The Real Jerk may be staring down an imminent eviction notice, but the restaurant's owners are hopeful that a new campaign may help win them more time before they have to move.
The restaurant has been a local landmark at Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue since 1989, drawing hordes of loyal customers and many accolades for its array of spicy Caribbean dishes.
But the popular restaurant is being forced out of its long-time home by a new landlord who bought the property late last month.
Co-owner Edward Pottinger was out of the country when he got the news about the sale and was not happy to learn that he is being forced out so quickly.
“The neighbourhood was pretty rough when we came here. We had our challenges, of course,” said Pottinger, who first opened his restaurant in a different part of the neighbourhood in 1984.
“And that’s why we feel we shouldn’t be kicked out of this area without any cause.”
The property's new owners declined an interview with CBC News, but they indicated that the negotiations to buy the property had been going on for a year.
Online campaign launched
A newly launched campaign has the restaurant calling on its neighbours, patrons and supporters to sign an online petition that seeks to “help protect family run businesses like The Real Jerk.”
Pottinger believes he would need just a few months to find a suitable place to move The Real Jerk and he would like to negotiate with the new owner for the chance to do just that.
“I don’t think I am so upset about being told to move, but it’s the way it was done,” Pottinger said.
“We’ve been here 28 years and to be given one month to move out and find a new location is ridiculous.”
He’s got the support of his city councillor, Paula Fletcher, who intends to seek a meeting with the new owner.
“I think it seems quite unreasonable for someone to give a 30-day notice for a business that has been here for 28 years,” Fletcher said Monday.
Fletcher said she hopes that by talking to the landlord, it will be possible to reach a “reasonable solution.”
On Twitter, Fletcher said the protest effort had drawn the support of the Riverside BIA, which wants the new owner to overturn its pending eviction notice to The Real Jerk.
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