Pam’s Roti asks customers for help keeping doors open

Owner of beloved Bloordale roti shop says her landlord is refusing to apply for rent relief measures

Pam’s Roti is asking for help staying open after the shop’s landlord declined to apply for rent relief, owner Pam Singh says.

“We are all feeling the financial burden of COVID-19 and due to (being) takeout only, sales have dropped, but I know once the restrictions are lifted, sales will rise and things will be different,” Singh wrote on Facebook.

However, the fate of the business now seems to be uncertain. Singh says the restaurant’s landlord declined to apply for the federal rent subsidy, which would allow her to pay only 25 per cent of her usual rent for the month of June. His reasoning, she added, was that it was “too much work” to apply.

The long-running roti shop has changed locations several times in Toronto over the years, but arrived at the Bloordale location in 2017. Pam’s reopened for takeout in late April, and has begin doing roti donations to front-line workers at local hospitals.

Since posting their call for help on Sunday, Pam’s has seen an outpouring of offers for help, including from local MP Marit Stiles, councillor Ana Bailao and MPP Julie Dzerowicz.

Singh’s plight is one echoed by numerous small businesses, who have found themselves at loggerheads with their landlords during the pandemic. The federal rent relief plan has come under fire from business owners, who say it doesn’t do enough to prompt landlords to sign on for the benefit.

In April, a survey found that just one in five businesses expected they would receive rent relief under the CECRA. “Because participation in the program is voluntary for landlords, and they will still be expected to accept some losses under the program, there is mounting worry many will choose to ignore it, even if badly needed by their tenants,” Save Small Business, the coalition behind the survey, said in a statement.

A number of bars and restaurants have been locked out by landlords during the pandemic, and despite politicians calling for landlords and tenants to work together, no policies forbidding commercial evictions have emerged thus far.

UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been launched to support Pam’s.


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