nino daversa

Toronto bakery defends itself after declining service to frontline worker

Nino D’Aversa, a popular Italian bakery with multiple locations in Toronto, is defending itself after a woman accused them of refusing to serve her 69-year-old father who is a frontline worker.

The woman says her father is a maintenance worker at the Downsview Long Term Care facility, which has been experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among its residents and employees.

She says her father has been working at Downsview for 30 years.

Last week, she says her father went to the Nino D’Aversa Bakery near Keele and Finch.

Visiting the bakery after work wasn’t unusual for her father, she says. “He's been going to Nino D’Aversa for 20 years, twice a day. [...] He always goes there for a coffee, cold cuts, or lottery tickets. They know him by name.”

On this day, she says a customer at the bakery noticed her father and told a staff member about his presence in the establishment.

“The staff member then told the manager, [and] the manager came out and they told him that he was not welcome at the bakery and he had to leave,” she said. “So he left, and I am just shocked that they would do that to a regular customer.”

She acknowledges that her father was not wearing a mask on this visit.

“He had changed his clothes [after his shift],” she said. “During his shift he does wear all the personal protective equipment: a face mask, a shield, full suit, gloves, everything. [And at] home he does test his temperature in the morning and when he leaves work to make sure that he does not have a fever.”

In a since-deleted post on Facebook, the woman described the ordeal leading to a number of angry comments about the bakery.

The backlash prompted someone at Nino D'Aversa to address what they called “the spread of mininformation” in a post on the bakery's own Facebook page.

“A maintenance worker who works in a long term health care facility which had a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak entered our store after a shift wearing NO PROTECTIVE MASK OR GLOVES. This customer asked to purchase a lottery tickets and made no mention of food.”

“Another customer recognized this person and reported them to our night manager based on concern for public health and safety. The manager then asked the maintenance worker to leave the store as she was uncomfortable serving him.”

“If somebody is in contact with COVID-19 they should be self quarantined/going straight home from work,” the post reads.

“We need to work together to flatten the curve. We support our employees [sic] decision and thank all the individuals who stood with us regarding this issue.”

The woman disagrees with the policy and how it was handled.

“He was maintaining social distancing, he had washed his hands,” she said. “There's no sign on the front of this bakery to say masks are mandatory...he was singled out [and told] to leave...they kicked him out and he was humiliated.”

Claudia Assenza also works at the Downsview Long Term Care Facility. She says she called the bakery and spoke with the manager there.

“He was aware of the incident and stated that they have the right to refuse service to anyone if his staff feels unsafe,” Assenza confirmed.

blogTO asked to speak to management at Nino D’Aversa but they declined to comment.

The woman says her issue with the bakery is not that staff wanted to keep themselves safe, it is that staff embarrassed her father and asked him to leave without providing him an alternative option.

“If you're not comfortable, take him aside [and ask him], What do you want?” she said, potentially offering him the option to pick up his items curbside. “He's a regular customer. Why would you treat a regular customer like that? And he's a frontline worker.”

“This bakery shouldn’t be treating people like this,” she said.

Lead photo by

Carrie Perreault

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