jack and lils toronto

Toronto restaurant that was a neighbourhood secret is permanently closing

If you didn't know Toronto had a secretive destination for South African food hidden in an alleyway, head there soon, because it's shutting down for good.

Jack and Lil's was a caterer with a little window in an alley where you could grab baked goods like beloved banana tahini muffins, quick healthy bowls, and South African items like biltong (a type of beef jerky).

They once took up residence on Dundas West where they served up brunch from a homey space, but that spot had previously closed down.

The South African food business took to Instagram to announce their ceasing of grab and go as well as catering operations after almost seven years as a presence in the scene.

"Thank you to every single person that came to a Sunday Brunch, visited us in the lane, ordered our food on set or invited us to cook in their home," reads the announcement, signed by owners Lauren and Dan.

There's been an outpouring of sorrowful comments in response to the post, including a few from neighbouring businesses.

"Nooooo," wrote nearby ice cream shop Booyah. Barbershop Patisserie commented, "you will be missed!"

There is some good news for fans of those scrumptious muffins: they will live on in a way as Jack and Lil's will continue to supply their muffin batters to IQ Foods and Hunter Coffee. Other than that, Jack and Lil's may be back in some form but probably not for a while.

"We're closing because we need a break. It's a really tough business and we've been at it a while," owner Dan Gütter tells blogTO.

"The current situation, inflation, labour shortages in the industry, etc. are making things harder, not easier. We want to step back, re-energize and look to bringing Jack and Lil's back in some form or another in the coming years."

Gütter doesn't know what might be taking over the laneway space but hopes "it will be someone who wants to continue serving delicious food and drinks to the community."

The laneway window will be open for two more final weekends from 9 a.m. t0 4 p.m. on Mar. 5 and 6 as well as Mar. 12 and 13. They'll continue fulfilling private bookings and orders until Mar. 31.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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