Just Desserts, on Yonge Street just north of Wellesley, is throwing a party Tuesday night to celebrate its long run in the hugely competitive business of satisfying Toronto's sweet tooth.
"It's been a sweet ride," chuckles owner Richard Fernandes. "But it's time to move on and to do something else. I could stay for another five years but I want a new challenge."
Fernandes, who plans on staying the food and beverage business, said Just Desserts, which had been operating since the 90s, has recently fallen on hard times.He said poor management and lack of leadership contributed heavily to the demise of the chain's 30-plus franchises.
"Its popularity reached its peak when desserts were in fashion," he told CBC News. "People would go out and have a fancy dinner and then they'd come here. People still do that but not as much.
"Now, restaurants have pastry chefs and bakers in-house, and people are willing to pay for that," Fernandes added.
While Just Desserts is associated with signature, sinful cakes, it is also linked with a high-proifle crime that occurred at one of its franchises 21 years back
On April 5, 1994, three men walked into a Just Deserts restaurant in Yorkville and robbed 30 patrons at gun point. Before they left, one of the gunmen shot a customer — 23-year-old Georgina "Vivi" Leimonis — in the chest. She later died in hospital.
"That was sad," Fernandes said. "But, sadly, it's like the shooting propelled Just Desserts into the mainstream. Ironically, (the shooting) contributed to its profile. All of a sudden, everyone knew what Just Desserts was."
Fernandes says he'll remember meeting celebrities like Bruce Willis, Mike Myers and Chris Bosh at the restaurant, and says his patrons will remember it as "a place they felt at home, that was inviting, that had a great aura, and where they felt welcomed.
"I know thousands will miss it," he added.