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Deathwatch

23 Comments

Roncesvalles staple Granowska’s Bakery to serve its last paczki at the end of the month

Granowska’s has presided over the corner of Roncesvalles and Fern for 39 years (Image: Joey deVilla)

On the morning of Thursday, June 13, 1972, after three straight days of baking, Elizabeth Klodas and her mother Maria opened the doors to Granowska’s Bakery on Roncesvalles, which they named after the family bakery they left behind in Poland. “That first day, we sold out in five hours,” she told us. “We were both so happy but then started crying when we realized we had to start baking all over again! We thought we had baked enough to last the weekend!” Now, after nearly 40 years in business, the bakery will be closing its doors for good at the end of the month.

Elizabeth and, eventually, her daughter Kathy ran the shop, supplying hungry Torontonians and visitors like Pope John Paul II with some of the best paczki and rum babkas around. “My mom wants to retire now, and I want to respect her wishes,” Kathy said. “Plus, ingredient costs are constantly rising, margins are getting smaller and we’ve noticed that desserts aren’t as popular as they once were.” The building has been sold to a family that’s looking to turn the space into a flower shop. Kathy told us she believes it’s better to be remembered when you’re at the top of your game than to stick around past your due. Still, this might not be the end for the Roncesvalles staple: Kathy is contemplating eventually rekindling the Granowska’s flame online or even at another brick-and-mortar location—after she’s finished penning a Klodas family cookbook.

Granowska’s Bakery will close on December 31.

  • David Pylyp

    Full bakery exists at 289 Roncies, Chicago with a full deli..
    It’s ever changing, the Ace is open again!

    David Pylyp
    Living inToronto

  • Stephen van Egmond

    After all the recent stories in The Grid about gentrification on Roncesvalles, this feels like a kick in the nuts. I expected Granowska’s would be the last to go.

    Sorry to see you go, G’s. Enjoy your retirement.

  • parkdaleeater

    dark days ahead…

  • Monika

    I’ve been coming to this bakery for more than a decade. Their “paczki” are the best in the city! It was a Ronces staple, as well as a staple in the Polish community. Fingers crossed that a possible online option as was mentioned will surface in the future.

  • mo

    A legendary Polish bakery. So sad to see such landmarks disappear. The name is priceless, the baked goods were some of the best. The atmosphere, decor and marketing desperately needed to evolve.

  • ellen

    I have lived the neighborhood for 20 years. I tried to shop there many times in the being but stopped when I got lousy service. Their baked goods were good but I got tired of waiting for someone to served me. I go to Chicago for their paczki, not as good but I never needlessly wait for service.
    So goodbye but I stopped shopping there 15 years ago.

  • parkdaleeater

    i have never had to wait for service other than when it is busy and i am in line. if waiting in line while a place is busy constitutes bad service then i think we were really abused in toronto during the 90′s.

    one of the reasons chicago isn’t as busy is that they aren’t as good-i would rather wait a couple of minutes for something great than getting something i enjoyed less simply because it was faster.

    i have always received great and friendly service and i think that the decor is charming in that it has remained the same for so long. not everything needs to be ‘updated’ (code for gentrified?)…they do have debit-very current!

  • ellen

    It was never busy when I shopped but there was always white people served before me. Chicago is always busy but I always got served in a orderly fashion.

  • parkdaleeater

    race card? really? i don’t know how it can’t be anything but orderly…it is a tight space and once you walk into the store you are pretty much in the line up. next in line is always served when i’ve been there…my better half isn’t white and he usually does the buying at granowkas…

  • ellen

    You are right since it is a tight space it is hard to ignore when you are not being served. But I did stop shopping there about fifteen years ago. Glad you didn’t have that experience.

  • Mikey

    At least it’s their choice. Tinto, down the street, has been slapped with a Bailiff’s notice and is being evicted! They have a sign in the window saying they’re just closed for holidays, but the Bailiff’s notice says they’re being turfed for failing to pay rent. The landlord has even put up a “for lease” sign in the window. Rough death for a neighbourhood standard.

  • parkdaleeater

    the for lease sign was up prior to the closure at different points and tinto had been listed for sale for almost a year…i never liked tinto personally, never a good fit to the hood and never very welcoming-kind of cold…

  • brasfort

    There goes the neighbourhood! With Benna’s and the Chicago Butcher, Granowska’s one of the last bastions of Polishness on the Ronces strip.

    There paczkis were monumentally good. I’m tearing up right now…

  • T-dot

    Chicago’s paczkis are even better (and cheaper) than Granowska’s. I never liked that hard fruit that Granowska’s puts on their paczki. Open Window Bakery was also better value but they left a few years ago. Nonetheless, Granowska’s will be missed. I am sure the unnecessary road construction over the last couple of years bankrupted more than a few of the local retailers.

  • jaydee

    Goodbye to another Polish shop! And good riddance! The rudeness and terrible service to anyone that didn’t speak Polish in most of the Polish shops was/is unbelievable. And that goes for the staff & customers. I personally have never encountered such “me first” rude attitudes. And what’s with not speaking English after 35 years in Canada. They’re probably the ones that scream the loudest when people from Asia of Arab countries don’t speak English. What ATTITUDE.

  • parkdaleeater

    maybe it was the self-importance you exhibit here that turned them off of serving you in the first place

  • Asha

    Sorry to say, but I have been downright ignored on more than one occasion in this bakery, while others were blatantly served ahead of me. I was willing to put up with the ill-treatment for the sake of the delicious food. Don’t be so quick to discount other people’s experiences – just because it didn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  • Rajin’ Raj

    Personally, my experience was that service was only a notch above negligent and the product’s popularity was more about sentimentality than quality or taste. That doesn’t invalidate their success, though; it must be nice for them to see how they were appreciated and they should take pride in their longevity. Few family businesses get to bow out on their own terms.

  • Heather

    My boyfriend and I gave Granowska’s a try on 2 separate occasions. We were made to feel so unwelcome we decided not to return. It doesn’t taste as good to me when you’re treated like an inconvenience.

  • parkdaleeater

    i wonder how it stayed in business all this time with all these negative reviews?

  • Asha

    Well as evidenced by the range of comments, they weren’t uniformly rude to everyone, but to a select group who for some reason the staff felt didn’t merit their attention. I’ll leave those reasons to your imagination, lest I be dismissed for pulling some sort of card or having a bad attitude.

  • Alex L

    It was a bit of a landmark, for sure. It was also getting a bit dated. There’s lots of competition now for sweets and baked goods on Ronces and Granowska’s never changed. There is a good core business as their product was good, but it hasn’t “freshened up” for a long time. Inside, it was too small to be a coffee place, but they did have room for a patio. Having a bakery right next door made for an odd competitive circumstance. I liked their pastry and will miss the place. I hope we are able to keep a core of Polish places, there is no other area in Toronto. That said, Ronces has never had a majority of Polish establishments.

    I never had any service problems. I find this service issue to be common to many stores/cafes/etc. where it’s not fast food. I also find that people are often impatient and not willing to speak up for their service, and instead, just leaving after a couple of minutes. You see them grumble after waiting less than a minute. I have seen this. When you come into a place like Granowska’s that does not rush, they don’t change to fit -you-. Let them know. Really, I’ve often had very nice visits in there with my kids. But never rushed service.

  • DVC

    Granowska’s needed to close down years ago. They still served a “coffee to go” in a styrofoam cup with a plastic lid! And they served it without a smile. Now who does that? A shop that just does not care anymore that’s who? 40 years! That’s a good run. They should be proud, now on with the gentrification. Roncey has the momentum!Im excited.

 

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