Local Etobicoke bakeries worry they will be considered non-essential

Mar 24, 2020 | Life

Monja Chiara, owner of Cakestar, is worried about letting go of staff and paying bills when it comes to adjusting to changes caused by COVID-19. (blogTO)
Madeline Jafarnejad

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising every day in Toronto, and Premier Doug Ford announcing the closure of all non-essential businesses, local shops and restaurants are worried about what the future holds for them.

The Government of Ontario said in a press release Monday that food services are considered essential however some local bakeries worry that their shops are not essential and their main concern is that they will have to close.

Bakeries and bake shops like Cakestar, a 10-year-old cake shop in Etobicoke, should be able to remain open if they adhere to the rules provided by the provincial government.

Monja Chiara is the owner of Cakestar and her biggest worry is that with the new rules she might have to shut down her business completely. 

“My main concern is obviously staying open and being able to provide services to my customers,” said Chiara. “I have already let go of two staff members and that makes me feel awful because we are all in a hard time. It hurts my heart to do that.”

She said that despite getting a few orders a day, she worries about paying the bills to keep the shop open.

“I’m still getting the occasional little cake order. I’ve implemented a take home and delivery for cookie and cupcake decorating kits to apply to today’s market,” she said. “Business is probably at like 10 per cent of what it was before so it’s not enough to pay all of my bills but hopefully it’ll be enough so I can ride this out.”

Chiara’s cake business always offered a delivery service but not all businesses are used to servicing customers this way.

Many places are either offering takeout or trying to find a way to allow customers in.

Elaine Stalteri owns La Rose Bakery and said she is still allowing customers to come inside and shop but is closely monitoring them.

“I try to let four in so I can serve them good and I can keep an eye on everything they touch,” said Stalteri. “I am sad because it is very difficult. People want delivery but we can’t deliver so we’re doing the best we can.”

Stalteri said her clients are happy the bakery is still open but business has changed because not a lot of people are leaving their house.

“It’s not the business it used to be,” she said. “People are scared to come out.”

Ford said the closures of non-essential businesses will last at least 14 days and that this measure was not taken lightly but needed to happen in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.