Toronto Caribbean restaurant closes following dispute with landlord and neighbour
A Toronto restaurant known for lively dance parties, over-the-top cocktails and Caribbean food is now closed, citing disputes with the landlord and neighbours as the cause.
Maracas in Kensington Market posted a statement on social media telling followers that they have officially closed.
This is not good bye. It is a bittersweet feeling to officially announce our location at 📍181 Augusta Ave is officially closed. Due to ongoing issues with our landlord and also a neighbour that continuously harrasses the business and files false claims to the City of Toronto on a daily basis, it is in our best interest to close operations at this time. We want to say thank you to each and every person that had the opportunity to visit us in person, ordered our food through delivery, attended one of our summer curb side events and also to the many families that subscribed to our weekly meal delivery service. You all have helped our small business get through such a unique and difficult time. This is not the end for us. This is only the beginning and we cannot wait to reveal what's next for Maracas 🇹🇹. Through the good, bad and ugly aka Andy.. THANK YOU! #doitfortheculture
"This is not good bye. It is a bittersweet feeling to officially announce our location at 181 Augusta Ave is officially closed," reads the caption of the post.
"Due to ongoing issues with our landlord and also a neighbour that continuously harrasses the business and files false claims to the City of Toronto on a daily basis, it is in our best interest to close operations at this time."
The restaurant had pivoted this summer to put on curbside events and start a weekly meal delivery program highlighting different kinds of cuisines, and thanked everyone that supported these initiatives in their announcement as well.
"This is not the end for us. This is only the beginning and we cannot wait to reveal what's next for Maracas," the announcement concludes.
Owner of Maracas Douglas Ling was also behind Caribbean Sunset in Riverside, which previously closed as well.
According to Ling, he signed a lease which he alleges was supposed to be a duplicate of terms he was given to look over, but which he says was in fact altered with hidden fees.
He claims he only found out about the changes to the lease when he spoke with a lawyer about being unable to make rent when COVID hit, and alleges the landlord also refused to apply for rent relief.
Ling says he's now in the process of suing the landlord, and claims that he has also had to deal with a neighbour in the area who constantly harrassed Maracas and tried to get them shut down.
Ling alleges the neighbour has done everything from planting garbage in front of Maracas to filing noise complaints for music within legal volume limits.
Ling alleges the neighbour has also referred to the soca music playing at Maracas as "jungle music," threatened staff with a golf club, turned other neighbours against the business, and spread rumours about them violating health codes (though they've passed all health inspections).
"Kensington BIA are also fully aware of this but I did not get much help from them. They requested for a mediator but I did not hear from this person either. Other business owners in the area as well as Kensington BIA are fully aware," says Ling.
"They know exactly how he is and they just keep quiet and allow it. He has done this to other businesses as well and they've just waited long enough for him to find someone else to attack and throw hate on. I just happened to be a business directly in front of his home therefore, he would not stop until my business was closed or moved."
Though they just posted the news recently, Maracas has been closed since Sept. 27.
"When I chose 181 Augusta Ave for Maracas to be located at, I was hoping to bring diversity and positive energy into a side of Kensington that normally patrons wouldn't visit. All I ever wanted to do was share my passion for cooking and share my culture with everyone. Instead I was dealing with all of this hate and nastiness," says Ling.
"I do not know what will take over the location, but I send them all the positivity and hope they do not experience anything close to what I have had to deal with during the last 18 months."
Ling will be posting updates on the Maracas Instagram page about what's coming up next, so watch that space.
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