Popular Toronto brunch spot closes abruptly to surprise of employees
After nearly 10 years of being one of the most coveted brunch patios in the Church and Wellesley Village, Lola's Kitchen abruptly closed its doors yesterday, and former staff of the restaurant are accusing the owners of blindsiding them with the closure.
The Church Street restaurant, which has long been lauded for its seasonal brunch foods, announced yesterday on Instagram in a short, straight-to-the-point post that it's officially no longer in business.
"Lola's has been shut down permanently due to a new residential condo development," it says. "Thank you for all your patronage over the years."
Lola’s kitchen has been shut down permanently due to a new residential condo development. Thank you all for your patronage over the years.— Lola's Kitchen (@LolasKitchenTO) September 3, 2018
It's been known by owners and staff for several years that Lola's would eventually be replaced by a proposed 52-storey condo called "The Manhattan," which is slated to take over several properties, including Lola's historic building on the northwest corner of Church and Charles.
But former staff of Lola's are saying that they were never given a heads-up about the Labour Day closure, only finding out when an employee walked by the restaurant and saw a sign on the door saying that it was permanently closed.
"Most of us were scheduled to work today," says former employee Craig Jeffery, who was the one to spot the sign. "We all need to find other jobs and like most people in Toronto we live pay cheque to pay cheque, and now we don't have one."
did you used to visit Lola’s Kitchen for brunch? Well, you’re not going to again: pic.twitter.com/46DpQ6L3NS— Summertime Radness Li'l 🌳 (@karengeier) September 4, 2018
According to a press release sent out by a group called ShortList Artist Management, the acting PR group for Lola's ex-employees: "None of the employees received notification until later that evening after [owners were] confronted via text by one of the managers."
E-mails from Lola's parent company were sent out yesterday evening to all the restaurant's employees—a tight-knit community of people—to inform them that, due to an "urgent call from the Project Developer", Lola's Kitchen would be closing "prior to originally expected."
Employees were also informed that they'd soon be getting a formal notice in the mail detailing severance and backpay.
Lola's responded to allegations of foul play in the comment section of their IG announcement yesterday, saying, "The true fact here is that all of the staff were aware that the restaurant was closing sometime between the summer and the end of the year."
"Notwithstanding the sad closing of Lola's Kitchen Inc., the management shall do everything they need to respect and adhere to the laws of Ontario for all existing employees."
They also noted in a press statement that they are hoping to reopen Lola's in the same building later down the road. Whether or not former employees will be rehired when that happens has yet to be seen, and those who've just been fired are now on the search for new jobs.
"I think below the anger that we all feel, I think it’s just a real sadness that we’re not going to work together tomorrow," says Jeffery.
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