Restaurants, bakeries & take-outs

Of all the illegal business run out of condo residential units this one has got to be my favourite as it takes so much nerve, breaks so many municipal, health and condo laws and is so obvious to even the most casual observer that it is amazing that they can stay open.

In some of the ethnic enclaves of the GTA, there are families that run illegal takeout restaurants out of rental and condo residential units.

The business model
The food must be convenient, delicious and, at the same time, undercut the low prices offered by the legitimate ethnic restaurants.

The customers are usually working mothers who do not have the time to do all preparation and cooking of home-made food so they want to pick up dinner on the way home. During the day, they phone in their order and on the way home they telephone the "restaurant" to say they are almost there.

A family member brings the take-out food down the elevator and out to the front driveway where the customers are waiting. That makes for a fast and easy drive-through service.

Some of these "restaurants" offer free delivery for large orders.

You can find some of these take-out "restaurants" on the ethnic Internet sites. A few may place claffied ads in the local ethnic newspapers. Mostly they rely on word-of-mouth.


The condo bakeries are different. They have arrangements to supply one or more local restaurants and coffee shops or they sell their goods at local flea markets.

Low-cost providers
To make this work, they prefer that the cost of all utilities—including gas, water and electricity—to be part of the common element fees. That keeps their overhead low.

Health inspections
Obviously there are none. Still, I don't think that the customers are taking much of a risk.

A health inspection would include checking the temperature control of potentially hazardous food, how food is handled, improper handwashing, cross-contamination of food from improperly cleaned food contact surfaces or food stored in non-food grade containers, contamination of ready-to-eat food from raw food items stored or handled nearby, the source and condition of the food, the health of the food handlers, the presence of pests such as insects or rodents, and the potability of the water used in the restaurant.

Restaurants in private homes — sharing economy's latest trend
Sharing economy now serving home-made meals for dining-in or takeout.

Here is a link to a CBC news story on how young people in downtown Toronto condos are running restaurants out of their condo units.

Halima Iqbal cooks up meals in her Toronto condo and posts them for takeout online. (CBC)

Another way to make money from your tiny downtown condo. A couple of eat-in guests is one thing, running a full-blown sit-down or a take-out restaurant is something else.

Having one condo unit as a black-market restaurant may go unnoticed but having a several of them may be far more than what the residents will be willing to tolerate.

MealSurfers offers hungry people authentic food from home cooks
Start-up website aims to create the Uber of home-made meals.

MealSurfers connects people who love to cook with people who love to eat. The difference is the home-cooked meals are provided and the customers must visit a house or condo to pick up their grub of choice.

So what condos wants a stream of strangers flowing through their lobbies and elevators picking up food orders? Where will they park?

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