The owners of The Real Jerk are still coming to terms with the fact that their popular restaurant will no longer be located at the corner of Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue.
Co-owner Edward Pottinger told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that he is feeling a mix of “shock and disappointment” as he prepares to exit the location where his Caribbean restaurant has been thriving since 1989.
Pottinger and his wife, Lily, learned over the holidays that their building had been sold to a developer.
The new owner wants them out by the end of January.
“We were reassured by the owner that we would have a couple of years before anything would take place,” Pottinger said on Metro Morning.
Pottinger said he previously owned the building, but was forced to sell during the recent recession.
He and his wife intend to reopen at a new location, but there won’t be time to arrange that before the end of the month.
Over the years, The Real Jerk became a popular spot for Torontonians and out-of-towners alike.
Celebrities such as tennis star Serena Williams, as well as actors Wesley Snipes and Omar Epps, were just a few of the famous faces who found their way to The Real Jerk while in Toronto.
“I’m extremely proud of having a restaurant that represented my culture in a real positive way,” said Pottinger.
“It wasn’t always easy. I mean, obviously, we had our challenges and our struggles.”
Pottinger said many people travel to the Caribbean on vacation and acquire a taste for its local foods.
When they got back to Canada, they could always count on The Real Jerk as a place to get their spicy food fix.
“That was why I really wanted to highlight the Caribbean as a dining experience in Toronto,” said Pottinger.
“And before we came along, there were only takeout restaurants really. There wasn’t really any sit-down, dining restaurants that represented Caribbean culture.”
The Real Jerk first opened at a different location in 1984. It moved to its Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue digs in 1989.
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