link haus toronto

Toronto man starts up sausage side hustle that sells out while waiting for job to reappear

One Toronto man started up a side hustle while he was waiting for his restaurant job to reappear.

Now, he sells out of some of the most unique sausages in town that go way beyond the classics like sweet Italian or honey garlic.

Link Haus was founded in late 2020 by David Neiman.

"My restaurant job came to a grinding halt and I needed something to do, both for my sanity and a bit of income," Neiman tells blogTO.

His career in hospitality spans 30 years and even includes some time in London, UK.

"I started off in the kitchen but moved to front of house in my twenties and from there did bartending and serving, primarily in fine dining in Toronto," says Neiman.

"I worked at Far Niente at Bay and Wellington, in the space now occupied by The Walrus Pub for nearly a decade. During that time was eventually given the opportunity to run their wine program, curating the lists for Far Niente and FOUR Restaurant in the lower level, as well as doing wine education for both sets of staff."

He'd had an idea to start up a sausage company for a while and had been working on a few recipes. Once he came up with one he was happy with, he started small by posting about it on a few neighbourhood social media groups.

"There was a surprising flood of interest and that initial batch sold out in four minutes, with a pile-on of back orders amounting to an additional 150 pounds. It was wild," says Neiman.

From there he started doing a new flavour every week, growing the business and creating an online ordering and home delivery system, limited to certain areas of the city. He would sell out of every single batch of sausages he made.

"By the time things settled enough for restaurants to open back up again Link Haus was busy enough that when my manager asked if I wanted to work again, I had to politely decline," says Neiman.

All sausages are made in small batches using Ontario products as often as possible.

"I found the options for sausage in Toronto pretty uninspired. After honey garlic, and mild or hot Italian the options drop off quickly, even at some of the better butchers. A lot of it is poorly made, too. Salted pork or poultry is a great canvas to work with for flavour combinations, so I wanted to make some sausages that were unique and different," says Neiman.

"Toronto is the most multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan city in the world, so why not cater to that diversity? I currently have flavours that have their roots in countries like South Africa, England, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, Armenia, Tunisia, Mexico, El Salvador, and many others, and I've barely touched the tip of the iceberg."

You might find options like the Lakeview breakfast sausage with cinnamon, apple and currant ($10.65/lb), the Holy Mole with Mexican mole chocolate and spice ($11.35/lb) or the popular Fan of Yu with five spice, orange and soy sauce.

"I make some classics that are pretty in the pocket, like Link's Lincs links (our Lincolnshire sausage) or Light The Braai (South African boerewors), and more original ones like Hulk Fingers (our bright green spinach/parsley/garlic flavour) or The Rose Of Maghreb, a harissa chicken style. Right now I'm at 35 flavours and counting," says Neiman.

"At the farmers' markets this past season I regularly sold out, in particular at the East York Farmer's Market which has a great and regular clientele. As we entered the last hour or so of the market I would usually only have one flavour left, which would inevitably sell out there."

Farmers' markets are something Neiman has been getting involved with more and more, and he wants to continue with that. He's also been doing pop-ups at breweries around Toronto where he actually grills up his sausages for beer drinkers. Neiman's also planning to launch a monthly subscription service.

"Right now my service area is limited to the east end, but I will be expanding my delivery zone to encompass the whole of Toronto very soon," says Neiman.

"I want to keep plugging away creating new flavours, including using proteins like lamb, turkey, and game meats or waterfowl. Lastly, in time I want to start working directly with Ontario farmers for full traceability and work farm-to-table."

Link Haus has now become Neiman's full-time occupation.

"Between raising two small kids, dabbling with a music career, and moonlighting as a boxing ring announcer, I have time for little else," says Neiman.

Lead photo by

Link Haus

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