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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Toronto landlord says chicken restaurant left them first before lease was terminated

Last Wednesday, Toronto-Danforth MPP Rick Tabuns shared with his constituents a photo of a "notice of landlord's possession" sign on the front door of a Nando's peri peri chicken restaurant in his ward.

The Nando's at 671 Danforth Avenue had closed its dining room down in March under government orders, just like every other restaurant in the province, but as of April 19 it no longer appeared to be in business at all.

"Nando's Peri Peri restaurant at Pape and Danforth taken by landlord. Another business closes," wrote Tabuns on Twitter at the time. "[Premier Doug Ford] needs to step up — a 4 month moratorium on commercial evictions and rent subsidy grants, not loans."

The assertion that the restaurant had been "taken" by its landlord was backed up by three different pieces of paper posted to the restaurant's door, one of them stating that the South Africa-based fast casual brand owed $23,154.30 in arrears to the building's landlord, another one stating that the unit's locks had been changed "to deny access due to your failure to pay rent."

Realtor Sari Samarah of Value Insight Realty Inc. says that the unnamed landlord, referred to in the default notice document only as 671 Danforth Avenue Inc., received a hefty amount of backlash from members of the community in light of the tweet, the signs on their door and our story about both.

Samarah says there's another side to the story: A side that involves Nando's initiating the break-off of their lease and walking away voluntarily.

"Nando's mailed the keys back to the landlord and provided their written termination, and the landlord took the necessary legal steps to secure the premises," said Samarah to blogTO on Wednesday. 

"There is a duty for the landlord to give the tenant an opportunity to rescind their repudiation of the lease. The only way to do that is to ask for rent to be paid or propose a plan. They confirmed they wish to walk away."

Samarah provided a photo showing another letter as proof, one that was not visible in the restaurant's storefront when Tabuns or I visited the location last Wednesday afternoon.

nandos torontoThis letter appears to show Nando's North America CEO John Fisher writing that "the unfortunate decision has been made to cease operations of the Nando's at your property on or before April 13, 2020.

"Please understand that we are very disappointed to be in this position and we do not take this situation lightly, but due to serious distress of our corporate performance, turbulence in the marketplace and in light of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we are no longer able to sustain business at this location at this time."

Samarah says that this letter was posted in the window when he visited the location last week, which may have been true — it's in the exact same spot as an "outstanding rent" letter from Spectrum Property Management.

The letter from Fisher (as well as the original "notice of landlord's possession" document) is taped inside the window, while Spectrum's was taped onto the window from outside as of last Wednesday.

nandos torontnoWhen asked about the closure last week, Nando's said in a statement only that the company had made the difficult decision to close some of our restaurants temporarily" and that they were "currently in negotiations with our landlords during this difficult time."

According to Samarah, the landlord in question did not kick the chicken restaurant out, despite what the smattering of possession notices and a statement of arrears posted to the door suggest. In fact, he says they've "provided rent relief arrangements for their other tenants who have requested it."

"For Nando's, it was more that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated the challenges the tenant was already facing," he said. "The landlord would have definitely preferred to keep the tenant."

by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

Toronto cooking school is baking up pies for local food bank

Hitting up a hands-on cooking class is a definite no-go these days, but one cooking school is dedicating its kitchen to turning perishable donations into beautiful pastries for charity. 

Lisa Dickie, who heads the Dickie's Cooking School by Woodbine station, has been using her school's kitchen to bake up pies and tarts for the Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre

Like all other non-essential business, the school — which runs classes for adults, kids, and students with down syndrome, autism, and mild intellectual disabilities—  was forced to temporarily close its doors on March 16.

"I started reaching out to east end organizations letting them know I have a big working kitchen that is laying dormant," Dickie said. 

A few weeks ago she connected with the Eastview Community Centre, and since then, she's been picking up ingredients on Thursdays or Fridays and turning them around in time for the centre's new emergency food bank on Tuesdays.

dickies cooking school toronto

Dickie's Cooking School owner Lisa is using the school's kitchen to turn perishable donations into meals for charity. Photo vai Lisa Dickie.

First, they sent over 250 pounds of fresh tomatoes, which Dickie simmered down into sauce and drove over to the community centre in her family Honda.

Then last week, the centre sent over 150 pounds of frozen berries and tons of frozen puff pastry sheets (donated by a restaurant that had closed), which Dickie baked into 62 tubs of mixed fruit preserves, six blueberry pies, and more than 100 tarts.

In a few weeks, she'll start cooking community suppers for WoodGreen Community Services, which will provide her with the ingredients to make 75 family meals for residents of WoodGreen's community housing units on Donlands. 

"You're just looking for way to keep busy in this bizarre limbo," said Dickie. "It's wonderful to be able to provide something that's not pre-prepared or packaged." 

by Tanya Mok via blogTO

TTC and GO staff to hold parade in recognition of healthcare workers in Toronto tonight

In an effort to show appreciation for the many healthcare workers on the front lines of Toronto's health crisis, TTC and GO Transit workers have organized a parade down Hospital Row. 

The parade will take place tonight and feature dozens of frontline TTC and GO Transit employees in decorated vehicles parading down Hospital Row in support of healthcare workers across the Greater Toronto Area. 

"The initiative was developed at the grassroots by employees from the two transit agencies who wanted to express their gratitude to healthcare workers," reads a statement from the TTC about the event

"Employees enlisted their families to create signs and posters for the parade."

The parade will begin around 7:15 p.m. tonight at Queen's Park Circle and travel south on University Avenue toward Edward Street. Vehicles will then make a U-turn and travel north to Gerrard Street.

Toronto Police Services will be on site to "support and manage movement," meaning they'll be there to prevent crowding and gathering among residents. 

This event will mark the second time a parade has been held out of appreciation for healthcare workers in Toronto since the pandemic began, the first of which took place almost two weeks ago

The first parade — hosted by Mayor John Tory and TPS — led to some crowding issues in a city calling for residents to stay home as much as possible. 

So while tonight's parade will surely bring a smile to the faces of many, residents should refrain from heading to the site in person and stick to cheering from balconies and front porches. 

And if you're not in the area, you can count on an abundance of photos and videos that'll surely be posted to social media as it happens.

by Mira Miller via blogTO

Mexican restaurant in Toronto says it's permanently shutting down new location

Mexican restaurant Pancho Y Emiliano has announced that it's shuttering its location in the Entertainment District in light of "hard times". 

The second outpost of the Kensington original opened little more than a year ago on King West's main restaurant row. 

Owners announced today on social media that they'll be selling the business to "give the opportunity to another brand to dedicate his future to this vibrant location." 

"Departing from this location is never cheerful, nor easy occasion for our business as we have enjoyed serving you there, but we will try to make this a little less painful by [welcoming] you all at our Kensington Market location." 

Pancho Y Emiliano was one of the first restaurants to join the King West strip off John Street following a string of closures that some business owners blamed on the King Street transit pilot, though studies later showed foot traffic in the area had actually increased due to the commuter project. 

The multi-floored restaurant had more of a nightlife bent than its Kensington counterpart, with an upstairs lounge and cocktail focus. 

Earlier this year, Pancho also fell victim to theft when a man was captured on surveillance camera swiping a stuffed panda head from the restaurant (don't worry, the WWF donated a new one). 

The restaurant in Kensington has decided not to stay open for takeout or delivery orders during this time, but says it will re-open when it's deemed safe. 

by Tanya Mok via blogTO

Doug Ford says Ontario businesses should start getting ready to reopen

The provincial government is "getting close" to reopening Ontario's economy, according to none other than Premier Doug Ford, who announced during his daily press conference at Queen's Park on Wednesday that he is "laser-focused right now on opening things up as quickly as we can."

Ford, while still adamant that everything must be done "in a safe and measured way" based on the advice of public health officials, seemed notably more optimistic about reopening the province than ever before.

"I want companies to start getting ready — we're getting close," said Ford after announcing a new set of safety guidelines for employers to follow once they get back down to business. "I'm giving you hope. We are getting close. Get ready."

The sector-specific guidelines are meant to help protect workers, customers and the general public against COVID-19 as Ontario's economy gradually reopens in phases.

These guidelines follow Monday's release of a "framework for reopening our province" document, which contains guiding principles, clear criteria and targets that must be met before the province can begin lifting its current emergency orders. 

"We need to continue seeing the curve flatten, we need to see the numbers continue to go down, not just for a few days but for a couple weeks," said Ford on Wednesday. "But the reason we're throwing out these guidelines... there's a reason: Get ready, we're going to get things moving."

When asked why, after consistently reiterating that he won't be rushed into reopening the economy, Ford seems to be gung-ho on the issue now, the Premier said his optimism is rooted in results.

"I'm feeling more positive, over the last four or five days — you get the odd spike, as we've seen, but over the last four or five days we've seen more positive results," he answered. "This changes day by day by day, but we have to make sure that we're prepared."

Ford once again stressed his number one concern remains the health and safety of Ontario residents, and that reopening actions will only be carried out on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. That said, he believes the time has come for businesses to begin preparations.

"We can't just throw out the guidelines and expect people to open up overnight," said Ford of the new workplace safety guidelines. "This is a clear indication that the time is coming sooner, and we're going to get there. I just want people to be prepared."

by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

Some TTC buses are still way more overcrowded than they should be right now

The TTC has been struggling both practically and financially since the pandemic began in Toronto, and it seems they still haven't figured out how to properly prevent crowding on buses. 

The transit agency has implemented various measures to enable social distancing on its vehicles and address crowding issues, such as only allowing rear door boarding, not accepting methods of payment other than Presto, blocking off every second seat and more. 

But despite these actions, photos and videos of dangerously crowded vehicles continue to circulate on social media. 

One Toronto resident, for example, posted a video from the inside of a TTC bus Wednesday afternoon, and the footage shows a vehicle packed with people without any physical distancing at all. 

Last week, the TTC announced it would be laying off about 1,200 employees to cut costs amid an 85 per cent drop in ridership and a loss of $90 million in monthly revenue. But many have said the move will undoubtedly result in more crowding and more danger for the essential workers who have no choice but to use public transit. 

"Make no mistake — layoffs mean reduced service and these cuts will have consequences for essential, low-income workers who depend on the TTC to get to work at hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores and pharmacies," said President of the TTC workers' union Carlos Santos in a letter last week

"Service cuts will lead to overcrowding, which increases risk for spreading the coronavirus to those who are most vulnerable in our city."

The transit agency has acknowledged that several bus routes tend to be extremely busy during the morning rush hour, and they've asked passengers to avoid nine specific routes before 7:30 a.m if possible.

They also say they're monitoring a long list of routes that they've deemed problematic, and that extra buses have been redeployed on those select routes. 

"In order to reduce customer volume and allow for better physical distancing, we continue to monitor higher volume routes particularly in the busiest times of the morning and afternoons," the transit agency said in a statement about bus crowding.

"We encourage customers to delay any trips until after 8 a.m. whenever possible."

The TTC also says that 14 supervisors have been assigned to key positions to direct additional buses to where they are needed most.

And yet, the crowding persists. 

by Mira Miller via blogTO

Ontario confirms 86 new deaths from COVID-19 in highest daily death toll yet

Ontario health officials have confirmed 86 new deaths in COVID-19 patients as of Thursday morning, marking the highest single-day increase in deaths thus far and bringing the province's total death toll to at least 1,082.

The new record is a grim one for the province, especially after the brief optimism felt by many yesterday after posting the lowest one-day increase in new cases in more than three weeks.

Today's case increase is slightly higher than Wednesday, with 459 new cases confirmed. This is a 2.9 per cent increase from the previous report. 

There have now been 16,187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario reported to date, though resolved cases (10,205) have significantly outnumbered active cases (4,900) for a while now. 

Testing in the province is on a very gradual incline, with 12,928 conducted yesterday. A total of 277,522 tests have now been administered in Ontario, though the backlog of tests under investigation also continues to grow. Yesterday, there were 9,530 cases under investigation for COVID-19 in Ontario, while today there are 11,859.

Many have criticized the province for falling well below its testing targets, as Premier Doug Ford had initially said we'd be seeing 18,900 tests per day by April 17. The government eventually revised that benchmark to 12,500 tests per day by April 22.

Meanwhile, according to the province's dedicated COVID-19 web portal, 999 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. Of that number, 233 are in ICU and 181 are on ventilators. 

Ontario's daily Epidemiologic Summary indicates that of the province's 1,082 deaths, 530 have been reported among residents/patients in long-term care homes. There are now 190 outbreaks reported in long-term care homes, which is an increase of nine outbreaks from the previous report.

While Ontario has certainly seen some reasons for cautious optimism this week, today's substantial death toll and case increase is a reminder that we have a long way to go before the province reaches 200 new cases per day or less — the figure Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams says he'd like to see for at least two weeks before the province reopens. 

by Mira Miller via blogTO

50 restaurants that do their own delivery in Toronto so you don't need to use apps

Restaurants that do their own delivery in Toronto let you support local businesses directly, rather than letting a pretty big portion of your dollar go toward hefty commission fees handed down by delivery apps like Uber Eats.

You might have to pre-order in advance online or over the phone, and pay a little extra for the delivery fee (not all the time), but supporting your favourite establishment directly is worth it. 

Here are restaurants in Toronto doing their own delivery. 


Just text your order to the number in this pizzeria’s IG bio and they’ll arrange a way to get your pizza to you using their own delivery staff.


This Keele Street Vietnamese spot is doing local deliveries when you place an order by phone.

Somun Superstar

Bakery owner Alen will deliver your fresh Bosnian sandwiches on his bike for free, if you live between Woodbine and Warden Avenue, from the train tracks down to the lake. Just call. 

Wilson’s Haus of Lechon

This popular Filipino BBQ spot will take your minimum $50 orders through text, and even delivers to areas outside of usual zones like Brampton or Durham, depending on the day. 

Season Six

Order a hearty meal online from this Ossington restaurant and get it delivered straight to you. 


Get Indian food delivered to you for either $3 or $7 extra, depending on where you live in the boundaries between Kipling and Spadina, south of Lawrence to the Gardiner. Order online.


Put in your order over the phone to get in on scheduled deliveries of Filipino feasts to specific parts of the city, which you can keep up with on their IG. 

Little Sito

Get homestyle Lebanese food delivered to you between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. by ordering online.

Hong Shing

This Chinese restaurant by St. Patrick station is now offering 20% off all online orders. Head to their site for a very clear breakdown of delivery areas and times. 


Ossington’s most popular Greek spot is taking online delivery orders, though you’ll have to order at least a day in advance. 

Lambretta Pizzeria

You can order delivery from this Roncy pizzeria online between Wednesdays to Sundays, 4 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. 

The Fix and Co

Plant-based eats are available for in-house delivery, just call ahead and order. 

Fox on John

Pub food can be brought straight to you when you place your order online, with a minimum spend of $18. 

Han Moto

The snack bar just off Dundas West offers pre-orders via email, which they’ll be delivering personally if you e-transfer, with a minimum order of $45. 

Double Ds

Get your deep dish pizza fix by heading to their website and getting some delivered from their Lakeshore location. 

Adamson BBQ

Texan style ribs will be brought to your door between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Friday to Sunday, depending on what you choose. Just make sure you only order from their delivery section, and don’t worry if your checkout says PICKUP instead. 

La Grotta Pizzeria

This Pape Village pizza spot delivers orders made online anywhere south of Eglinton to Lakeshore, between Mount Pleasant and Victoria Park. 

Dino’s Pizza

Call to all three locations of Dino’s and get those pies and Turkish pides delivered to your door within 7 kilometres for a $5.50 fee, and an extra $3 anywhere beyond that. 

Kingston Social House

Prepared meals from this Scarborough’s spot can be pre-ordered from 3 p.m. to midnight through e-mail. 


All four locations of Tabule are offering delivery orders through their site, just pick the one that’s closest to you. 


Kensington’s bake and shark destination is doing weekly meal plan deliveries, which includes two meals a day for up to six days. Pay and order through their Google Doc form. 

Queen of Persia

Call this St. Clair restaurant for deliveries of halal kebab platters and delicious jewelled rice. 

Pray Tell

This snack bar is now offering meal delivery through its new site Sixteen Ounce, with options to subscribe or just do a one-time deal. 


You can e-mail your order to Gushi’s newly launched Gushi Tech for a scheduled delivery of nanban and ramenu noodles. 


The Danforth mainstay is now doing its own deliveries, spanning a large part of Toronto’s east side from Rosedale down the Beaches, just order online. 


Call into this Esplanade Italian restaurant for delivery orders until 11 p.m. daily. 


This popular Indian restaurant is taking online orders and payments for $30 minimum orders, offering free deliveries if you’re in the right zone. 

San Remo

Etobicoke’s favourite bakery is offering $50 minimum delivery pre-orders to certain areas in Toronto and Mississauga. No same-day orders, and beware that weekly slots fill up fast. 

Lazy Daisys

Call the Gerrard East cafe for contactless deliveries of buttermilk pancakes and breakfast sandwiches.

Conspiracy Pizza

The East York pizzeria is taking delivery pre-orders if you live between Lawrence and Bloor, between Yonge and Warden. 

Fat Lamb Kouzina

Delivery is free, and will be dropped off between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. every night of the week. Just place your order over the phone at least one day in advance. 

Greek Grill

This Danforth staple will take your orders over the phone, as long as you live within their delivery range.


You can order Mediterranean dishes for delivery online from Sofram’s Thornhill or Richmond Hill locations. 

The Irv

You can call this Cabbagetown staple or text your order to their designated number to get pub eats delivered to your door.


Call to get your Indian food fix. This Etobicoke restaurant is offering 15% off on apps, too. 


Greektown’s Mediterranean restaurant will deliver for free if you live between Broadview and Greenwood, from O’Connor down to Queen Street. Just call or e-mail.

Mashu Mashu

It’s minimum $30 for delivery through this Spadina Road restaurant’s handy website. 

Aviv on St. Clair

You can order Monday through Saturday from this St. Clair restaurant, just call.

Quanto Basta

Residents near the Rosedale area can place an order over the phone for free deliveries, scheduled or regular. 

Gordo Ex Cafe

This longtime Venezuelan spot near Bathurst and Dupont is taking delivery orders over the phone. 

Eden Restaurant

Use this Humber Bay restaurant’s designated web page to get your Italian food delivered to you. 


Leslieville’s chic crudo spot does weekly baskets appetizers and pre-made pasta sauce that you can order before Monday to have delivered on Wednesday; minimum $100.

Madame Levant

Weekly dinner feasts are available for delivery through this Leslieville restaurant’s easy-to-use online shopping cart. 

Buca Toronto

Salumi, pizza, and pastas can all be ordered online from Buca’s St. Clair  location to be delivered to your door. 


This restaurant is doing pre-order deliveries of their homey eats to anyone within an 8-kilometre radius of their St. Lawrence Market store, just order online. 

The Grapefruit Moon

Order online and get free delivery if you live within the restaurant’s boundaries: Bloor to Davenport Road, and stretching from Spadina to Dovercourt.

Poet Cafe

The menu changes daily but you’ll have to place your online order before 6 p.m. the day prior. This Persian cafe delivers within a 1-kilometre radius for free, and extra within 8 kilometres. 

Cici’s Pizza

As always, delivery is free for residents of the Parkdale area for orders above $15. For anyone outside those boundaries its $2 to $4 more; just call. 

Buddha Pie

The junction’s gluten-free pizzeria offers free delivery when you order over the phone. 

Green Papaya

Yonge and Eg’s Brazilian-meets-Asian restaurant will deliver your meal if ordered online. They have three delivery zones, ranging from no charges up to $8 fees.

by Tanya Mok via blogTO