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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Toronto restaurant known for its Belgian-style fries has permanently closed

A fry spot that's been in Toronto since 2014 is now permanently closed.

"The End is Here," reads grim text on the Moo Frites website above a letter that explains "Since March of this year, we have been forced to close due to COVID-19. With no tourism and substantially lowered number of pedestrians in Kensington Market; we have no choice but to close the business for good. It was a tough decision."

The tiny takeout joint was lauded as the source for Belgian-style fries in Toronto. The letter, written by owner Ambrose Lee, explains how he not only worked but lived in the Kensington Market neighbourhood where Moo Frites was located.

"We initially tried to do more takeouts and delivery through Uber Eats, Foodora and Ritual, offering discounts and upsizing, but for the fries and poutine business it was very hard, because our food doesn’t hold well in a closed take-out container while being delivered — it loses its crispiness and quality," says Lee.

"So we had no choice but to close the takeout as well. Our shop is set up for walking traffic, tourist, and pedestrians - without it, we can't survive."

He explains how he believes Kensington Market is a tourist destination, and that border closures and a major drop in pedestrian activity "affected our sales activity substantially."

"We tried opening and on weekdays and we can have zero sales for the whole day. Literally, we opened for the whole day and not one customer came in. We knew opening on weekdays would not have the sales to support even the utilities used for that day."

Lee is used to market activity dropping during the winter months but counts on sales during spring to fall to break even and make up for those losses.

"The pandemic started in March and we are still not in Stage 3 yet," says Lee, "so based on the missed opportunities to cover our winter loses, plus another winter coming, we knew we won't be able to survive a year and a half without proper sales. And we don't expect pedestrians to pick up anytime soon as the tourism industry is on a complete stand-still."

The letter also outlines Lee's desire to pass down the brand to someone who will preserve its integrity.

"We are hoping someone can take on as new ownership, to purchase the brand and the recipes and continue what we have worked hard on — being one of the best frites and poutine in Toronto," says Lee.

"We are hoping someone can continue this on in any shape or format (street retail, food stalls, food truck). We have a great product and we are on almost every must-eat best-of list."

Lee emphasizes that he wants to say "thank you to all our fans and customers both locally and throughout the world. They are what pushed us to continue to fight through our down days, and whenever we hear 'these are the best fries I've ever had,' it really means a lot to us, and to me especially."

by Amy Carlberg via blogTO

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