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Iconic Annex diner People's Foods enters the deadpool

Posted by Derek Flack / May 28, 2012

People's Foods closuedAnnex area residents looking to sop up their hangovers have one less place to brunch as of yesterday when People's Foods closed its doors after being in business for almost 50 years. "I told the landlord not to raise the rent, that it was too much, but we disagreed," owner Kathy Tsatsanis told me earlier this morning as staff cleaned out the vintage diner, which is still adorned with retro jukeboxes at each table.

Tsatsanis, who's owned the restaurant for the last eight years, refuses to pay a rate that she believes is unreasonable for the small space on Dupont at St. George. "It's sad because the customers were like a second family," she says of the decision. "If the rent was lower, we'd stay."

It's a pretty standard business story, but that's hasn't numbed the pain for the restaurant's regulars, many of whom stopped by on Sunday to say goodbye and order a final bacon and eggs or club sandwich. "I think this is a real loss for the Annex, especially for those who made People's a regular habit on weekends," wrote David Silverberg, Managing Editor of Digital Journal and a restaurant regular, in a note to us about the closure. "It's hard for me to name a place on Dupont that could give off the same atmosphere found in People's."

Despite shorter hours, People's always had way better food than 3 a.m. hot spot Vesta Lunch, which is what made it something of an Annex institution.

Fortunately for fans of the restaurant, the plan is to reopen at some point. Although Tsatsanis tells me that she's having some trouble with her hands, she'd like to find another location in the neighbourhood at some point. "We won't move far," she says.

Still, without a concrete timetable, the mood at People's this morning was understandably sombre. The restaurant's lease is officially up June 1st, but it sure looks like neither side is budging. And so another old-school Toronto diner bites the dust.

What a shame.

People's Foods ClosedLead photo by Hidden Houses on Flickr



mezimeen / May 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm
Mason / May 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm
This is horrible..
with so little options of good food around where will we go!
Sad on Brunswick / May 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Awwwww terrible! I loved this place so much.
Josh / May 28, 2012 at 01:04 pm
That place was iconic!

I hope they find a new location, and that the old location doesn't become a Fido store.
Starvin' Marvin' / May 28, 2012 at 01:05 pm
Just another douchebag landlord doing what douchebag landlords do. Maybe the whole site'll get leveled for some d-bag condo development.
Daniel / May 28, 2012 at 01:21 pm
Jesus!!!! First I catch news that The food depot is doing poorly...and now people's hamburgers is closed!! What is left for us in this area??? I swear if Martinos goes next I'm coming or swinging.. I'll miss people's for all the hung over breakfast I had!
Margaret / May 28, 2012 at 01:29 pm
I'm so sad! It was my favourite spot for cheeseburgers and onion rings. I hope it reopens in the future.
Rob replying to a comment from Starvin' Marvin' / May 28, 2012 at 01:31 pm
Oh right, because that's the way things work...tenants dictate to owners what they can and can't do with their property.
Sad / May 28, 2012 at 01:38 pm
I hate when places just close up. After 50 years it would be great if Peoples gave a months notice so long time fans and those who always thought about going (I am in that camp) can make a final visit.

Blerg / May 28, 2012 at 02:02 pm
Starbucks coming soon. . . . .
jennifer / May 28, 2012 at 02:02 pm
I ate there over 30yrs ago :( And later I worked at the People's Restaruant (why they had the same name, I never knew???)just down at Bathurst but this was the original and it will be missed.
Other great places around but it's jsut not the same,
Ryan / May 28, 2012 at 03:49 pm
Kathy, we love you and we will miss you SO MUCH! It's been a few months since we came to eat at People's Foods but we think of you often! Best wishes to you and your family! 'your guys' Ryan and Warren.
Ted / May 28, 2012 at 06:36 pm
Frriiiigg! Are there any other places in the city that still feature table-top juke boxes?
Jenny / May 28, 2012 at 08:02 pm
Best fries and service in town. A place where they always knew my name and called me "sweetheart."

Tommy and Kathy are amazing people. What a loss.
Haha / May 28, 2012 at 08:31 pm
obviously delete the only comment with truth to it......
Annex Exile / May 28, 2012 at 08:48 pm
I'm sorry, but besides old-school diner nostalgia and employees who are "characters," there isn't much to love about Peoples. Frankly, the food wasn't very good. You would easily spend over $12 for an omelette made with low quality ingredients like processed cheese.

And to the guys who mourns the lost profitability of Food Depot, you shouldn't be shocked. Also overpriced, Food Depot buys nearly-expired clearout surplus stock and sells it at outrageous prices simply because it's open 24 hours/day. Freezer burnt ice cream is also a specialty here.

I lived in the annex for 7 years and miss neither spot.
Louis / May 28, 2012 at 09:48 pm
How is this "iconic". I've lived in the Annex for 15 years and never once noticed this place.
Gabe / May 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm
It came it went, it had its time, was good while it lasted, been there done that. I'm sure the family that runs the joint could gladly use the break...
Tuli / May 28, 2012 at 10:42 pm
Iconic: YES. Replaceable: YES. That strip has been changing over for a long time. Last of the hold outs..
Adrian / May 29, 2012 at 09:23 am
Hm...I smell condo! That's about the only reason someone would do that. And speaking sociologically, having more empty places on a street like Dupont suggests to others that the area is vulnerable, which will mean an increase in crime. I will miss the Manhattan on their menu. Hopefully, the workers will be able to collect EI without too much trouble...

Yale / May 29, 2012 at 05:35 pm
Wow. This is sad news. People's has been a staple in this area forever. I run a video production business right across the road (Massey Bros. Films) and our family business has been here for over 50 years as well (Davenport Tailors). Thankfully we have a landlord that supports loyalty. Hopefully they can still work something out.
rob / May 29, 2012 at 08:26 pm
sad sad news my wife Lisa went often and loved it.
we even went there when we dated. another Toronto landmark gone.
a.s / May 30, 2012 at 10:35 am
aw my parents used to eat here every day when they were dating, then i grew up, moved to the neighborhood and used to take them there for burgers when they visited. end of an era *sniff*
Arlene & Lou Barry / May 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm
So sad when read the news, Kathy you and your staff are the best, great service, family atmosphere, great food and always a hug and smile when we visit from Charlotetown, Prince Edward Island twice a year, can't miss a People's trip...
please keep us posted if you re-open, all the best to you and the staff and Family, you will be so missed in that area of the Annex. thanks and hope to see you soon at a new location.
(and a big thank you for being like family to my family that live handy you)
Kathleen Kajioka / May 30, 2012 at 09:08 pm
I am heartbroken. I was away, and had no idea this was coming. It has been my diner for 15 years. Even when I wasn't going there regularly, it has been a warm presence up the street, like an aunt who is always there to welcome you if you need it, and make you a grilled cheese. (Never mind that they made THE BEST onion rings on the planet). I don't care if others are indifferent. A beautiful, humble presence in the neighbourhood is lost. I didn't even get to say good-bye.
john / June 2, 2012 at 04:06 pm
might of had something to do with the clown on his computer on evenings
connie / June 3, 2012 at 10:46 am
That "Clown" actually wrote a feature film on his computer in his corner while cooking your food everyday, all day... You should be a bit nicer toward things and people you don't no, "John".

And yes, ICONIC is the perfect word! Im gona miss this place.
john replying to a comment from connie / June 4, 2012 at 10:27 am
nonetheless while (Nero fiddled) the burgers burned, check the reviews from other websites
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from john / June 27, 2012 at 02:24 pm
Who gives a frack about that, the place was iconic for a lot of people and now it's going to be going for more motherfracking crappy, shitty condos! Can't anybody do SOMETHING about stemming the tide of the overpriced, single people only eyesores? Before they destroy ALL of the character of neighborhoods like Dupont and Eastern Avenue?
Dupont / July 2, 2012 at 03:00 pm
This was the worst news I could have read today. I really loved that place.
I hope they find a place to re-open because they will truly be missed in this neighborhood.
john / July 4, 2012 at 10:34 am
Relax people, no condos stay tuned, you will be surprised
Annex / July 15, 2012 at 07:25 pm
What a loss. I have been going to people's since I was a child. Now at 37, it has become a regular gathering place for friends, family, loved ones, out-of-town visitors and even colleagues. There is no other place like it, and I'm at a loss for words that the doors have closed for good. Thank you for the memories!
Peter Bruce / November 19, 2012 at 02:20 pm
I've been going to People's since the mid-1970s. All the comments about the mediocre-to-bad food quality are true. But, nonetheless, the place grew on me. It was a comfortable hangout where I met up with fiends and other interesting people. And like an old friend, I came to love it and accept it with all its charms and shortcomings. And, I will miss it, dearly!
Amy in Toronto / November 29, 2012 at 04:05 pm
People's used to be my regular go-to diner spot for Sunday brunch, and to take out-of-town guests for breakfast or milkshakes or onion rings. I loved that the food was consistent (it's amazing to me how many breakfast spots can screw up an order of poached eggs), their French toast was plentiful and delicious and Kathy, Tommy, Manoli and Theo always greeted me with warm hugs and we'd catch up with one another whenever time permitted.

I hope Kathy and her family get a chance to take some well-deserved time off before they find another location, but I do look forward to the re-opening of a new People's Food. I will miss them!
Scarrah / January 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Anyone know about the restaurant that's currently open in the old location? Signage just reads "FOOD" now - they removed the remaining letters. Didn't get a chance to swing by yet.
armadillo replying to a comment from Scarrah / February 24, 2013 at 04:43 pm
It's now Rose and Sons. Seems like an overpriced dinner/brunch joint, judging by: / October 19, 2013 at 09:39 am
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