Italian bistro to open in condo that rejected The Real Jerk
Toronto Star
By: Alex Ballingall
26 August 2014

Photo Alex Ballingall

More than a year after a heated push to stop The Real Jerk restaurant from moving into their building, residents of a Riverside condo will allow an Italian bistro to set up shop in the same space.

Papered-over windows declare that Il Ponte Cucina Italiana will be “coming soon” to the ground level of the Edge Lofts at 625 Queen St. E., directly east of the Queen Street Viaduct.

Last year, the owners of The Real Jerk decided not to move in, facing challenges from more than two dozen people living in the 66-unit building who were concerned about decreased property values and late-night noise from the east-end eatery known for its spicy roti, jerk chicken and karaoke.

“We tried as much as we could to make them comfortable with the operating times and so forth,” Real Jerk owner Ed Pottinger told the Star.

“They made it clear that we weren’t welcome.”

The Real Jerk ended up moving to its current site on Gerrard St. E. last September.

The next contender for Edge Lofts’ street-level space didn’t get a free pass from residents, either. After Il Ponte submitted its application for a liquor licence in October, 13 residents sent letters to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to express their opposition, said commission spokesman Ab Campion.

Howard Buckman, a consultant who helped Il Ponte’s owners with their liquor licence application, said he counselled the restaurateurs to engage with the condo dwellers and respond to their concerns. Through a series of meetings, they were able to make compromises on closing time and noise levels. The restaurant also promised to bring in security cameras, said Buckman.

Campion said the residents challenging Il Ponte’s application withdrew their complaints. “There will be conditions on the (liquor) licence to reflect those concerns.”

Buckman added that the previous unease about possible noise from The Real Jerk — which stays open past midnight when it has karaoke — won’t apply to the incoming business, simply because it won’t stay open late into the night.

“It’s not going to be focusing on late hours, with people who are going to come waltzing in at 11 o’clock at night. It’s not going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to be run as a fine, first-class restaurant.”

At the time of The Real Jerk’s application last year, some condo residents wrote strongly worded letters urging the commission not to award it a liquor licence.

“My priority is to live in a peaceful place where I can go to bed at 10 p.m. without disturbance,” one resident wrote. “If I can’t sleep here, I can’t live here.”

Pottinger said Tuesday that, like Il Ponte’s owners, he met with residents to assuage their concerns, offering an earlier closing time, but they were unresponsive.

Messages from the Star to numerous building residents have gone unanswered, including emails to condo board president Dom Conte.

Jason Garland, vice-president of development for Streetcar, the company that built the condos, said he helped mediate between the prospective restaurants and residents.

“I don’t think that the residents outright didn’t want The Real Jerk,” said Garland. “They were looking for a restaurant that was a little bit more family-oriented and a little bit quieter.”

Il Ponte is just a “better fit,” said Garland.

Reader's comments
Old Pete
“My priority is to live in a peaceful place where I can go to bed at 10 p.m. without disturbance,” one resident wrote. “If I can’t sleep here, I can’t live here.” ---- I have a question for that resident ----:

If your priority is to live in a peaceful place, why do you live right next to the Don Valley Parkway a multiple lanes highway, and the Queen Street TTC streetcars rumbling past your building all day long and well past 10.00 P.M. if not all night???

If you want to live in an area where nothing is open past midnight then live in Scarborough. Downtown is not the place for you. Scarborough boring quiet Scarborough.

I used to live across the street from a bar that had karaoke on Friday nights and it was not pleasant. For me, that is. I'm sure the customers were having a great time.

I moved. Then I lived next door to some very pleasnt Islanders who played music lots of nights until about 2 am. I moved again.

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