Somun Superstar

Toronto businesses are finding creative ways to support each other during pandemic

Some businesses in Toronto are finding creative ways to help out their neighbours who have either been forced to close or are in need of support.

Take the Bosnian sandwich restaurant Somun Superstar in the Upper Beaches which recently started offering a potted plant from its neighbouring store Flower Centre as an optional add-on available through its online ordering platform.

Somun Superstar is owned by Sanja Topić Zukanović and Alen Zukanović, who said over email that the idea to include the plants was Sanja’s.

“She thought that it would be nice to include an option for people to receive a small potted plant with their orders, just to brighten their day, so she reached out to Andy from Flower Centre next door,” Zukanović says.

Owner Andy Sue closed the The Flower Centre over a week ago when florists weren't included in the list of essential workplaces

“Our decision to include flowers from Flower Centre with our somun orders is largely symbolic, to keep in mind and shine a light on small businesses that have had to close their doors during this difficult time,” he adds.

The online-ordering initiative at Somun Superstar is still fairly new — they will begin their first deliveries of online purchases in the next two days — but Zukanović says that the response from the community has been positive. “About half the orders that came in requested flowers with their somun bread,” he says.

Another business bringing in Toronto makers is Grape Witches, an educational platform and catering business that specializes in natural wine.

It’s helmed by Nicole Campbell and Krysta Oben. Through its Tuck Shop, Grape Witches sells bundles of select wines, and their two newly-launched packs include snacks created by local makers.

Campbell and Oben both have many friends who have been laid off or face precarious work situations because of the pandemic.

“We wanted to help in whatever small way we could,” they said over email. “We could think of nothing nicer than bringing in some of our favourite chefs,” to add to their bundles, they added.

Jess Maiorano makes incredible pasta and Mikey of Uncle Mikey's is such a talented chef with a huge passion for cool beer and wine.

We have our website set up to sell and deliver easily, and if we're able to give business to our talented friends there is literally no downside,” they said.

Proceeds from Grape Witches’ bundles are also being donated to COVID-19 relief. Campbell and Oben say they are aware that many Canadians are facing difficulties when it comes to employment, and so they decided to work with Foodshare to donate proceeds that will “reach marginalized communities quickly,” they said.

NEW PACKS LIVE! ❣️ Introducing our Tuck Shop. A little bodega featuring our fave small makers and ummm chip factories to accompany our natural wine boxes. 🍬 A brand new Super Fresh andddd a California Dreams mixed case (with lots of @grapewitchimports selects!) are both LIVE and shipping out from Friday on. 🍇 We have a limited amount of beautiful pasta from @jessmaiorano and perfect kimchi c/o @unclemikeysinc or good old chipos to accompany each pack. We are soooo excited to share our favourites, but also appreciate how freaking privileged we are ESPECIALLY on April 1st. We are donating $4 from every pack to @foodshareto COVID emergency food box working with local frontline agencies to get good food to vulnerable populations in need. We were lucky to hear FoodShare executive director @paultaylorto speak when he ran as a @ndpcanada candidate and respect all the work he does in parkdale and beyond.

A post shared by Grape Witches ⚡️🍇 (@grapewitches) on

Zukanović, Campell and Oben urge their fellow Torontonians to support local, small businesses where they can.

Whether it be through the purchase of gift cards, artists’ prints, ordering delivery, or even engaging on social media, Zukanović notes — it will go a long way.

“Stay connected while we’re physically apart,” Zukanović urges.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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