A Toronto restaurant that was a neighborhood secret is closing for good


If you didn’t know that Toronto had a secret destination for South African food hidden down an alley, go there soon, because it’s closing permanently.

Jack and Lil’s was a deli with a small window in an alley where you could grab baked goods like beloved banana tahini muffins, quick and healthy bowls, and South African items like biltong (a type beef jerky).

They once made their home in Dundas West where they served brunch in an intimate space, but that place had already closed.

The South African food company took to Instagram to announce it is shutting down its fast food and restaurant business after nearly seven years in the scene.

“Thank you to everyone who came to a Sunday brunch, visited us in the alley, ordered our food from the set, or invited us to cook at their home,” reads the ad, signed by owners Lauren and Dan.

There was an outpouring of hurtful comments in response to the post, including a few from neighboring businesses.

“Noooooo,” wrote Booyah, a nearby ice cream parlor. Barbershop Patisserie commented, “we will miss you!”

There’s good news for fans of these delicious muffins: they’ll live a certain life because Jack and Lil’s will continue to supply their muffin batters to IQ Foods and Hunter Coffee. Other than that, Jack and Lil’s may be back in some form, but probably not for a while.

“We’re closing because we need a break. It’s a really tough business and we’ve been working on it for a while,” owner Dan Gütter told blogTO.

“The current situation, inflation, labor shortages in the industry, etc. are making things harder, not easier. We want to take a step back, re-energize ourselves and seek to bring Jack and Lil back under one form or another in the years to come.”

Gütter isn’t sure what might take over the alley space, but hopes “it will be someone who wants to continue serving delicious food and drink to the community.”

The driveway window will be open for two more final weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 5 and 6 as well as March 12 and 13. They will continue to fulfill reservations and private orders until March 31.


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