This is where you hope someone is paying attention...
After 46 years, Karl's smoked meat shop is closing because required renovations would cost $200,000
Dec 08, 2007 04:30 AM Emily Mathieu Staff Reporter
For the owners of Karl's Butcher & Grocery the product that was key to their
success could be the reason they're closing their doors.
"It's unbelievable what they want me to do," Karl Jarzabek said of provincial regulations he says he can't afford to meet.
Jarzabek, 86, is the owner of Karl's, on Roncesvalles Ave. near Queen St. W. While the family-run shop sells raw cuts of meat, it is most famous for smoked sausages, bacon and hams. Karl's produces about 1,000 kilograms of smoked products a week, all made from fresh meat from local Ontario farms. "We don't use any chemicals. It's all natural," he said.
After almost 46 years, Jarzabek will close his doors forever in two weeks because he can't afford an estimated $200,000 in renovations to make the store legal under the province's Food Safety and Quality Act., which came into force in 2005.
"The meat industry actually benefits from stronger standards" because it increases consumer confidence, said Brent Ross, a spokesperson for the Ministry of griculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Because Karl's smokes meat and makes sausages it is defined as a "free-standing meat plant," he said. Karl's shop is one of 150 smaller meat usinesses facing similar reviews, starting on Oct. 1.
"The future of small business looks very limited under this regime," said his son Walter, 52. Among the required changes, Karl's would need separate rooms for raw and cooked meat, separate entrances for employees, a change room, a curing room, a spice room and a separate lunchroom. All of the walls have to be covered in a white Plexiglas film and the floor space has to be refinished with a non-absorbing tile. All packaging must have nutritional labels.
The family said the shop has passed every inspection by Toronto Public Health since 2001.
"It does not mean that they are failing a health inspection, just that they need to meet different criteria," said Jim Chan, manager of the food safety program with Toronto Public Health.
For the neighbourhood, losing Karl's represents a loss of local culture. "All these little shops on Roncesvalles, I don't know what is going to replace them," said Martha Milczynski, 49. "Are we all supposed to shop at factory stores and big-box stores?"
The family accepts that in some ways the renovations would improve the business. But Karl, who started the business in 1962, said their reputation and product has been enough to maintain a steady business. "I've had the same customers the whole time I'm here."