merseyside toronto

Toronto cafe closed for three days due to power outage and considered never reopening

A Toronto cafe had to close for three days recently due to their power going out, and at one point the owner considered never reopening again.

The power went out at Merseyside around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, and it wasn't restored until around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Merseyside is a neighbourhood coffee shop known for their quick cafe items like breakfast sandwiches and scones.

The power outage resulted in the loss of all prepped food, and the cafe even had to stay closed an extra day once the power came back to redo all food prep.

"When there's a power outage it's always a gamble as to whether we need to move things off site and risk further warming of the food or whether to leave everything to hold temperature in the fridges and freezers and hope the power comes back on quickly," Merseyside owner Todd Delaney tells blogTO.

"We did not anticipate a three-day outage, because that's sort of unheard of. We made the call to pack everything in ice from our ice machine and then store-bought ice after that. It was a waiting game to see how much inventory we would lose. I regrettably don't have insurance for lost inventory, again because this sort of thing is a bit of an anomaly."

As if that wasn't bad enough, the cafe already had to be closed down temporarily just a few weeks ago because Delaney was ill and had no one to cover his shifts. 

To make things even worse, he was also recently hit with a $1,500 charge for a smoke alarm sending false alarms to the company due to a faulty battery. If you can believe it, that fee was bargained down from $3,000.

"Even after I spoke with the alarm company and told them it was a false alarm they dispatched the fire department twice within 24 hours, causing me to be on the hook financially for a false alarm," says Delaney.

"It's been months of going back and forth but I just recently got confirmation that the fire department has cut the bill in half as I requested call logs from the alarm company to prove that I had spoken with them before the second false alarm. The bill is now $1465.20 due in 30 days."

Because of the closure due to illness and the closure due to the power outage, Delaney estimates he lost around $10,000 in sales and inventory.

"I've already exhausted every financial avenue," says Delaney, "and actually considered not reopening this time."

Unlike some other businesses that have been able to bounce back relatively more easily, Merseyside is still operating at 40 per cent of its pre-lockdown sales, as the majority of their business was foot traffic headed to or from nearby Dundas West station.

"With people working remotely our sales have never recovered and even with people going back to offices part time they still have to wear masks on the subway and therefore don't stop for coffee beforehand," says Delaney.

"Coupled with the fact that we lost four days' sales, this was an extremely costly few days for my already struggling business."    

Delaney was finally able to reopen Merseyside on the Thursday following the power outage, and reached out online for support from the community.

"It was quite lovely to see how many people showed up and supported me," says Delaney.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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