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Leslieville Cheese Market closes its Queen West location, blaming Loblaws


The sign currently in the window at the Queen West Leslieville Cheese Market (Image: Matthew Fox)

The west end Leslieville Cheese Market has shut its doors after a three-year run at the corner of Queen Street West and Augusta Avenue. A small handwritten sign posted in the window unabashedly points the finger at the agent of its destruction—local grocery giant Loblaws. The story follows a familiar refrain: a small, independently owned business is summarily ousted from the neighbourhood when a big-box super-chain moves in next door. Leslieville Cheese Market owner Michael Simpson tells us that after a successful two-and-a-half years, revenues rapidly declined with the introduction of a Loblaws location one block away. Given high operating costs, Simpson had no choice but to close. Those in need of cheese have two options: travel across town to Simpson’s other two locations—in Leslieville and Donlands—or check out the giant (but evil!) wall of cheese at the local Loblaws.


  • Cody

    The service at this location was abysmal, snooty and borderline hostile. I went in many times and finally gave up. It was basically self serve and I never once saw a smile on anyone’s face or any display of product knowledge.
    Yes I was delighted when Loblaws opened! Leslieville’s managers are oblivious to their own shortcomings. Would I have shopped there exclusively if I was getting good service at Leslieville – probably not. Now I serve myself AND save money at Loblaws. If I want something special I go to St. Lawrence market where the vendors have some knowledge of and passion for their product.

  • Charlotte

    I had the same experience at Leslieville as Cody describes: terribly slow service and a snooty attitude – topped off by being sold an expired round of brie, which I didn’t realize until I was unwrapping it to serve to guests (embarrassing!). Nice try blaming Loblaws – they may have stood a chance if their service was anything but hostile and their products were, you know, edible…

  • Doug

    Glad to find out that it wasn’t just me that found Leslieville way overrated.

  • Dan

    I’ve had better experiences there than Cody and Charlotte, but the gist is still the same. Snobby hipster vibe that put me on edge.

  • Phil

    Agreed. Poor service and high prices — I’m glad to see them go! I buy my cheese in Kensington Market where there is a great selection and excellent, helpful staff.

  • jkwon

    not to pile of the complaint train, but I’ve had similiar experiences here as well. Product was great, but the service was poor & snooty… That was enough to sour me away from returning… too bad. I think the owners have no one to blame but themselves. Sad to see they are using Loblaws as a scapegoat…

  • LCBO sucks

    That is how the free market works. Loblaws has better selection and pricing… you need to fill a niche to compete against them. People vote with their wallets. Now if they could only allow dismantle the LCBO.

  • Bary

    I’m with Cody on this. The service stunk more than an expired round of brie. Leslieville Cheese Mkt can stay in Leslieville for all I care…I’m just happy that Global has reopened in Kensington Mkt.

  • harp

    Since discovering the village cheesemonger in liberty village theres no other place id rather go for cheese, sure loblaws you may save a buck or two but the pleasant knowledgeable guys here will make you feel at home. sometimes you have to wait but they always give the same care and time with each customer a must stop for any cheese lover if your in the west end check them out.

  • CheeseLovinLady

    The Leslieville Cheese market was WAY overpriced and the people who worked there were not very helpful or cheerful at all!
    About Cheese on Church St. still seems to be going strong and Loblaws moved in up the street from them too. The difference is that they have amazing customer service, so people are happy to spend a few extra dollars there.

    Personally, I LOVE World of Cheese in Kensington Market and also The Village Cheesemonger in Liberty Village.

  • CdnSyrup

    live around the corner from this place, and never went in because of the service I received. terrible!

    serves them right for having to close up, when you treat people who walk into your store like shit.

  • moonshake

    or… go to Kensington Market.

  • LPS

    I only went into the Queen West Leslieville cheese market two or three times, usually for something simple like bread, and while I thought the staff was odd but I didn’t interact with them that much so I didn’t receive any outright rudeness.

    That being said, I’m not surprised at all about the comments here. I live in Leslieville and the original Leslieville cheese market is awful! Three-months-past-expiry cheese (I’m not exaggerating), lack of cleanliness, and many of the staff are just hostile of you dare ask a question. Horrible place. Leslieville market west had a pretty spotty Dinesafe record too.

    I’m usually a big supporter of small local businesses, but I’m just waiting for the east-end shop to shut down and be replaced by a business that actually cares about their customers and the products they sell.

  • Russ

    All of you have saved me a lot of time by taking the words right out of my mouth! Thanks.

  • Jake

    totally agree with the above comments about Leslieville. The service SUCKED, and on more than one occasion I purchased pre-made food from them that had gone bad! They can’t really blame Loblaws if The Healthy Butcher has managed to stay open despite the big box move-in. Queen West residents are already being gouged on rent/parking/everything else, so it’s nice to be able to buy food and basic cleaning supplies at non-corner store mark ups.

  • havingalook2

    I went in once – asked for mimolette – they didn’t have it – fancy a cheese shop not having one of the classic cheeses. So that sorted me out – never had any cause to go back…if you cannot provide customers with what they want and many other shops can provide it – why the hell go back. And fancy blaming any other business on your own failure…get real and stop the whining.

  • Nicki

    Loblaws has an incredibly limited selection of upscale products, unless you want their own brand. The Wall of Cheese at Queen street is about 90% parmesan, last time I checked. So I agree with all the others, it’s not just Loblaws that shut down this store. I asked them for Haloumi once and got nothing but blank stares, even though I had purchased it there before. That was only after the two clerks finished their personal conversation, of course. I still go to the Healthy Butcher, despite Loblaws being closer to me. Perhaps the owners of Leslieville will take note: a business plan might have helped, rather than just blaming someone else for your troubles.

  • Cathy

    I went in to the Leslieville store for mozzarella once and they didn’t have it! They had buffalo mozzarella but I didn’t want to pay that much for cheese for lasagne. So I went to Rowe Meats across the street and got my mozzarella.

    Generally, the staff were not knowledgable about cheese. They obviously weren’t trained and probably not well paid. And it was/is annoying how poorly they’d wrap the cheese. It couldn’t be messier if you tried. And butcher paper is not appropriate for wrapping cheese (despite it’s use in some cheese stores).

    I’ll stop complaining now. Leslieville Cheese was a wonderful idea for a store but very poor execution. It’s obvious the owner isn’t really a “cheese guy”.

  • hillcrest

    no sympathy

    the service was terrible – at worse rude and at best indifferent

    the products were boring – you can’t offer the same products as loblaws at a higher price and expect people to stay

    cheese boutique has arguably a way worse location and is consistently rammed due to interesting differentiated products and solid customer service.

    leslieville good riddance

  • Bill

    I love the Leslieville Cheese Market.

    For some reason people here are saying that they are more expensive than Loblaws, but that’s just not true. I shop at Loblaws and keep track of prices. They charge about the same as Loblaws for the cheeses that they both have.

    Anyway, the one that shut down was stretched to it’s limit because they didn’t have the cash flow. The staff was not able to keep up, and you could tell they were rushed. I asked the owner. His only regret was not shutting that one down sooner. It was sucking up all his time and energy.

  • Sharon

    “leslieville good riddance”?

    Wow, hillcrest, you are very angry.

    I don’t think they were doing whatever evil things they did as a personal insult to you.

  • hillcrest

    fuck you sharon.

    angry enough?

  • mike

    The Queen St. location had the absolute WORST service and ZERO selection. With so many good cheese shops in the city ie. Chris’ at St. Lawrence Market or Cheese Boutique, why the hell would anyone spend their money here. They only need to blame themselves.

  • Jenny

    I disagree with most of the negative things written here. I was a customer at the west, and they were definitely going downhill, but I don’t hate them for it.

    I’ve never posted on a page like this. I have always found that the people who post on these pages are angry, lonely, negative people. This page proves it.

    I was standing at the streetcar stop outside the shop that shut down. In 20 minutes I heard at least one person a minute walk buy and say, “oh no it’s shut down, I loved that place!” Zero negative comments by the way.

    I had to weigh in here, because of the overwhelming difference in the comments on the sidewalk, compared to the comments here.

  • smark

    Yes, the internet gives far too much power to people who have the time and energy to unfairly trash a business.

    I am a regular customer of the one in Leslieville and I have no complaints.

  • wendy pillows

    what does “ZERO selection” even mean? they had no cheese?

    i went in there once and bought some cheese…hmmm…i must have bought the last piece of cheese…then after that, they had ZERO selection! i’m to blame!

  • Pierre

    Natural selection: bad service wont get you far in this business… I travel over 25km to get my cheese @ Cheese Boutique – this is real selection: raw milk cheese from Quebec, real Tomme de Savoie and not the pasteurized chemical taste that Loblaws sell… Leslieville Cheese Market had always been a fake, a wanna be… won’t be miss.