'Heartbreak all over': St. Clair West community mourns death of local restaurant owner

Tom Davis, founder and owner of The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder, was struck and killed by a car while vacationing in Jamaica. 

Stockyards Smokehouse owner struck, killed while on vacation in Jamaica

Tom Davis, founder and owner of The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder, was struck and killed by a car while vacationing in Jamaica.  (thestockyards/Instagram)

Customers, staff and friends are mourning the sudden death of The Stockyards Smokehouse founder and owner, Tom Davis, after he was struck and killed on Sunday while on vacation in Negril, Jamaica.

Davis had worked in the Toronto restaurant scene for decades, before opening his own restaurant on St. Clair West in 2009.

The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder serves up southern comfort food, though friends of Davis say he had never actually been to the southern U.S.

Lisa Josephs, who has worked with Davis for the past 12 years, told CBC News he had a passion for food.

"When it came to food, Tom was a perfectionist," she said. "He would taste it and if it didn't taste good he would toss it out and start again. Food was his passion."

"Every single recipe that is on this menu, every sauce, every side, everything...everything Tom developed."

Lisa Josephs worked with Davis for over a decade. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

'He made me feel like a million dollars'

Josephs said Davis wasn't just popular for his food. He also had a big heart.

"He made me feel like a million dollars every day that I was around that man," she said. "He made me laugh every time."

Homelessness was also something dear to Davis's heart, she said, adding he'd even given up the shirt off his back in some cases. 

"I have watched that man, in the middle of winter, take his coat off and give it to a homeless person," she says. "I know that I've been here, and there are people without money who come in, and Tom made sure they get fed."

Customers post tribute notes to Davis on the Stockyards Smokehouse front window. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Stockyards customer Bob Charendoff, who lives in the St. Clair West community, said Davis's death has hit hard.

"When this came out about Tom, there was heartbreak all over," he said 

"He just brought something so new and fresh to this neighborhood," said customer Maria Syrgiannis. "But then he is a great part of the community, you know he was a friendly guy, he was a good guy, and well loved."

In a tribute on Instagram, the restaurant called Davis "a generous and kind soul," and that everyone who knew him loved him. 

"His star will continue to shine, because Tommy's star has always shone the brightest of all stars," the tribute continued.

Details still emerging on crash

Details are still emerging on the circumstances of the crash that led to Davis's death.

The restaurant says Davis was struck by a car on June 13 and was rushed to hospital, where he later died.

He leaves behind a wife and daughter, who Josephs says are in shock.

"My heart breaks for them," she said. "This shouldn't have happened. Not to him."

Other business owners in the neighborhood have started a GoFundMe campaign to help Davis's family bring his body back home. 

In just one day, the account surpassed its original goal of $10,000.

With files from Greg Ross