Community rallies to help Pam’s Roti Shop avoid closure

The owner of the beloved Bloorcourt restaurant says her landlord refuses to apply for the rent relief fund.

The owner of Pam’s Roti Shop is turning to the community for support to avoid eviction. In a Facebook post earlier this week, Pam Singh shared that her landlord is threatening to close her long-running Bloorcourt restaurant. 

She writes that her landlord has refused to apply for the federal-provincial rent relief program, which would provide financial assistance by allowing Singh to pay only 25 per cent of her June rent. 

According to the post, Singh’s landlord is allegedly unwilling to apply for the relief because it’s “too much work.” Singh provides her landlord’s contact info at the end of the post, writing “we need to let him know this is wrong.” 

The public shaming of an unaccommodating landlord proved effective for Pizzeria Lambretta, whose landlord came back to the negotiating table after the restaurant’s owner made a similar appeal to customers for support.

With dining rooms closed, Singh has been offering takeout at Pam’s Roti since early April and recently donated 100 meals to the staff at three local hospitals.

Singh has been met with a wave of community support since issuing her Facebook plea, writing in a follow-up post that she has received such an overwhelming number of takeout orders that she ran out of food earlier this week.

Ward 9 Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao took to Twitter to share a letter she has relayed to Singh’s landlord, urging him to apply for the rent subsidy.

Yesterday, Singh shared a video of MP Marit Stiles advocating in the House of Commons for small businesses and citing Pam’s Roti as an example of owners who are being let down by the rent relief program. 

Although Premier Doug Ford has encouraged landlords to cooperate with their tenants, participation in the rent relief program remains voluntary and no policies preventing commercial evictions have been introduced. 

In her House speech, Stiles quoted research indicating that only 1 per cent of commercial landlords have chosen to apply for the rent relief program, leaving small business owners like Singh on the brink of eviction. 

British Columbia recently introduced an emergency order that prevents landlords from evicting businesses if they are eligible for the rent relief fund, yet choose not to apply. In her post, Singh suggests that Ontario needs to institute a similar policy. 

The future of Pam’s Roti remains uncertain but, in her most recent post, Singh shares her gratitude for “the outpouring of support dealing with the landlord.”

“Changes are underway,” she continues, “from a political perspective and hopefully changes for the rent subsidy.”

Article exclusive to TRNTO