The Real Jerk returns

A decades-popular Caribbean restaurant has a new home on Toronto's east end
Toronto's iconic Caribbean eatery is back after a long battle 1:58

The Real Jerk, a Caribbean restaurant located on Queen Street East for decades, has reopened its doors on Thursday after it was evicted from a previous east-end location last year.

It is now located off Queen, on Gerrard Street East and Carlaw Avenue.

The eatery first opened in 1984 on Queen Street East near Greenwood Avenue. It moved later to Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue in 1989, a corner where it became a neighbourhood icon and a landmark around the city. 

The new location for a Caribbean standby in Toronto (Stephanie Matteis/CBC)

In 2011, the building that housed the restaurant was sold, and owners Lily and Edward Pottinger were given a month to vacate. After a battle to keep the restaurant in its location — a fight that included city councillors, an online petition and an injunction — the restaurant closed in spring of last year.

"We had to fight," Edward told CBC News at the re-opening Thursday.

Today the restaurant features its history on its tabletops, a reminder of the changes in location to the customers who’ve followed it all these years.

Tennis champion Serena Williams, as well as actors Wesley Snipes and Omar Epps, were just some of the famous patrons on The Real Jerk.

"We saw people we met there who became couples, who became families," Lily said.

Loyal customers of the restaurant returned Thursday to enjoy the food and greet the owners.

"It's a testament to the years they've been in the neighbourhood and the years of a consistent, quality, fun atmosphere — everything that they've put together," said patron Erik Joyan. "It's the whole package." 


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