The owners of a popular downtown lunch spot in London, Ont., say they have been forced to close down their family business due to personal health concerns and a massive rent increase.
After 12 years in business, Eddie’s Fresh Grill, a food truck owned and operated by Eddie Manuel, no longer sits at the corner of Queen Avenue and Talbot Street.
“Now the corner is completely empty,” Eddie’s daughter Olinda Manuel said.
In 2020 Eddie was diagnosed with stage four liver and kidney disease, requiring two transplants.
“We decided the best thing to do is to put the food truck up for sale after 12 years and let him stay homes as everyone probably should, especially those who are immunocompromised,” Olinda said.
After working for months to find a buyer, she said they reached an agreement with someone pending a new lease with their current landlord.
But Olinda said the buyer backed-out after their current landlord upped the rent from $450 to $2,000.
“It was very shocking because we worked with them, and they knew my dad’s health condition, and they knew why we were selling it,” she said.
“It was very hard to find a buyer because everything is closed down, and it’s high risk to reopen a restaurant downtown, but it’s a little easier with a food truck.”
With no buyer and the Jan. 1, 2021 deadline looming they were forced to dismantle the trailer and put it into storage until they can find a new buyer.
“He really did build it from bottom up. Everything was built by hand, and seeing it go to a storage unit was heartbreaking.”
The health concerns and lack of income due to the failed sale of the business promoted the family to start a GoFundMe page to support Eddies medical and living expenses.
So far, the campaign has raised more than $6,000.
“It means so much to us, we have raised quite a lot so far, and it’s really great to see the community coming together and help him,” Olinda said.
Eddies Fresh grill is not the only business being impacted by the pandemic. A number of downtown businesses like Plant Matters Bistro, Circle K, and Starbucks are just some of the many businesses that have closed up shop because of the pandemic.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates one in seven small businesses “are at risk of going under.” CFIB’s mid-range estimate for business closures due to COVID-19 is 158,000 and could reach as many as 218,000.
–With files from Roy Green