pams roti toronto

Beloved Toronto roti joint might close because landlord refuses to apply for rent subsidy

The start of a new month today means the end of the road for some business owners who simply can't afford to pay rent after more than ten weeks of being forced to stay closed amid a global pandemic.

Pam's Roti is on deck to be Toronto's next casualty, thanks to a landlord who refuses to even apply for government funds that would keep the long-running restaurant afloat — but this Bloorcourt institution won't be going down without a fight.

Though many in Ontario are surely getting much-needed help through the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCECRA) Program, which sees our federal and provincial governments together pay 50 per cent of rent costs while tenants and landlords both chip in another 25 per cent, reports continue to surface of building owners who just straight up refuse to participate.

Several small businesses in Toronto have already been evicted in recent months due to non-payment of rent amid the pandemic, prompting local politicians to ask for an immediate ban on commercial evictions.

Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory have both warned landlords that if they don't start to "play ball" and provide some relief to tenants, heavier restrictions will be put into place.

Despite his harsh words for "greedy landlords," however, Ford has not yet banned commercial evictions, as he did residential evictions shortly after declaring a state of emergency in March.

Being that landlords, not tenants, must apply for the OCECRA benefit, renters are at the mercy of those who lease them space... and some of those who lease commercial space in Toronto are d*cks.

Jameloon "Pam" Bacchus Singh, owner of Pam's Roti at 1089 Bloor St. W., just east of Dufferin, is only the latest business owner to ask for help from her community under an imminent threat of eviction. 

Pam, who has been serving up well-priced, delicious Caribbean food for decades in west Toronto, issued the following plea via Facebook on Sunday afternoon:

"Dear Loyal Customers, Greetings from Pam's and staffs — Pam's Roti.

I need your help; my landlord is threatening to close my restaurant Pam's Roti.

We are all feeling the financial burden of COVID-19 and due to 'take out only,' sales have dropped, but I know once the restrictions are lifted, sales will rise and things will be different.

But my callous landlord don't see it as such. He is threatening closing me down because I asked him to apply for the rent subsidy of 75 per cent and I pay 25 per cent for June's rent."

The post alleges that the building's landlord, Henry Goldberg, told Pam's Roti it was "too much work to apply" for the benefit.

"Instead he threatens to close my business, Pam's Roti, and [deny] me my passion and love feeding my customers," the post continues.

The restaurant is asking customers to email or call Goldberg directly using contact information provided in the post to "let him know this is wrong."

Pam's Roti is also urging customers to contact both Tory and Ford to express their concern, which said customers are now doing all over Twitter and Facebook.

City Councillor Ania Bailao has responded to the plea for help by publishing an open letter, seemingly addressed to the landlord in question.

"I write to you because in our community, landlords like you have a special and critical role to play in protecting our small businesses," reads Bailao's letter, published to Twitter on Monday afternoon. 

"I encourage you to participate in the CECRA, which will ensure you receive 75 per cent of rent owed while we await the full re-opening of our economy.”

Goldberg has yet to respond to a request for comment regarding whether he'll reconsider applying for the program, or simply crush Pam's Roti after decades in business because he can't deal with getting less than 75 per cent of the rent right now.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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