prairie boy bread toronto

Toronto bakery abruptly shuts down all locations

A Toronto bakery that's popular for its bread has suddenly closed all its locations.

Prairie Boy Bread is known for their baguettes, and their products have been sold, served and made into sandwiches at countless other businesses in the city.

The first warning sign was an abrupt social media post about a fire sale the first weekend of November.

The post without a caption said the sale would take place November 4 and 5 at their 201 Geary Ave. location, that products would be sold for 25 to 50 per cent off and that all proceeds would go to staff pay.

Praire Boy made one comment on their own post: "To all her friends out there, if you can help out by sharing this post to as many people as you can. That would really help us sell all our stuff this weekend Thank you so much."

Many people commented on the post, alluding to their sadness that the bakery appeared to be closing.

A sign in the window of the bakery signed "Farewell" reads: "Recently we have faced increasing challenges that have become insurmountable for us and we are unable to continue operating. This is not how we envisioned things going but it is our reality right now."

Prairie Boy followed up with another post on social media after the weekend showing their window with the sign, surrounded by sticky notes left by people sorry to see the bakery go.

"We took our son to see all the notes you left. It was important for us to read the notes and feel the emotions together as a family. To acknowledge being part of something bigger than ourselves. To recognize that it takes a village and to honour the power that food has in bringing people together," reads the post.

"To whoever put the pen and stickies up for people to collectively share their feelings and send us love was the most beautiful thing we could have imagined. Thank you. You're welcome for all the bread. We are sad too but have to leave and we will miss you all."

Prairie Boy did not confirm what date their College or their Yonge and St. Clair locations closed, but fieldwork by blogTO provided evidence that all of the bakery's outposts are no longer. 

prairie boy bread toronto

Photo of Prairie Boy Yonge and St. Clair by Zaynab Rujabally.

In addition to the farewell letter and sticky notes found at the College location that was shared on social media, blogTO did notice the entirely papered-up storefront at St. Clair 

prairie boy bread toronto

Photo of Prairie Boy Geary Ave. by Zaynab Rujabally.

A letter posted on the front door of the Geary St. location states that the location's landlord had taken possession of the premise and terminated the tenancy. 

"Building Prairie Boy over the last nine years with my partner Lainie Knox has been a continuously challenging and often rewarding experience. In 2019 we were feeling good about our future and found a great spot in midtown where we could grow. We sunk all our resources into securing the location and planning the space. Things felt great," Prairie Boy owner Grant MacPherson tells blogTO.

"In March 2020 everything changed. The initial support from the neighbourhood helped us weather the storm but as thing dragged on the challenges piled up. We lost most of our staff and sales were erratic. The costs of everything went up and many essential supplies just vanished."

By late 2020, they decided to go ahead with the new location, but there continued to be delays with construction and costs skyrocketed.

"We had to borrow more money to finish the opening and the rates and terms in 2020 were grim. We added the production space at 201 Geary in anticipation of increased demand from St. Clair which added to costs. The fall at Prairie Boy is always our busy period and October 2021 was a solid month and seemed like a good start towards our goals," says MacPherson.

"With our new shops open and things moving again there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Then came Omicron Christmas. Slower than Christmas 2020 but with three locations open. Sales were dismal throughout the winter and into early spring. I took more loans just to continue operating."

Sales returned a bit that summer but Prairie Boy still struggled to recover with finance costs, MacPherson trying to hold out until the busier fall season. Unfortunately, that fall was even slower.

"The daily struggle overwhelmed me. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't get anything done. I was making poor decisions. I pulled away from the people who could have helped. Now I have closed all the shops. I am out of resources and too tired to fight on. I am deeply sorry to all those whom I have hurt. My unemployed crew, my unpaid suppliers, my partners, and most of all my family," says MacPherson.

"Thank you to all of you who have reached out in support over the last week. It has made me realize that I was never alone. I just couldn't see it. I hope that other small business owners who are struggling can realize they aren't as alone as they feel. That there are many people out there who care and can help."

November 1 was the last day of operation for Prairie Boy, and all locations are now closed.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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