The plight of a Syrian restaurant in downtown Toronto has commanded the attention of one of the country’s most prominent restaurateurs.
A news conference has been scheduled for Thursday morning outside the closed Queen Street West eatery. Owners Husam and Shahnaz Al-Soufi will be joined by Mohamad Fakih, chief executive officer of Paramount Fine Foods.
A news release stated the hugely successful culinary entrepreneur has been working with the owners of the Syrian restaurant to “revisit” their decision to permanently close.
The restaurant posted a notice to social media, prompting widespread reaction.
“As a result of numerous hate messages and death threats we’ve received over the past week, we’ve decided to permanently close our shop,” it read.
“Our decision is made with a heavy heart in effort to maintain our family and staff’s safety.”
It is anticipated that Fakih and the Al-Soufi family will announce new details about the future of the restaurant.
The establishment was allegedly targeted following the appearance of social media posts reporting that the owner’s son had taken part in a protest in Hamilton.
During the event, an elderly man and woman were blocked from entering a People’s Party of Canada rally.
“We would like to reiterate that our son Alaa regrets the incident that occurred in Hamilton this past weekend,” a statement issued by the family read.
“That said, he did not in any way verbally or physically assault the elderly woman and has nonetheless offered to apologize personally for not doing more.”
The Al-Soufis also alleged their son was “doxed and physically assaulted” last week.
The executive director of the West Queen West BIA told Global News he was hoping to speak with the Al-Soufi family to try to convince them to remain in the popular shopping district.
“I’ve been here 11 years now, so you build relationships. They’ve been here not that long, but they’re still part of the community… they were packed,” Rob Sysak explained.
“For them to have to leave when there really was no reason is quite upsetting and devastating.”
Sysak is slated to speak at the event outside Soufi’s Thursday morning.
The family has since filed a report with Toronto Police.