The packing has already begun at Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine, the 31-year Scotia Square food court institution that served its final lunch customers on Friday.
The restaurant is closing at the downtown location after owner Raymond Khattar said he couldn’t meet the conditions of the food court operator, which included a demand for higher rent and a cut of the sales.
Taste of India, a second restaurant that had been on the chopping block, said it will stay in the food court.
Khattar says it will be tough to say goodbye to his loyal customers, many of whom have rallied to his support in the last two months in an effort to keep the restaurant in place.
"I don’t call them customers, we call them family," Khattar said.
The moving company is coming Saturday morning, he said. But he vowed this will not be the end of Ray’s and said he will look for a new location in the city.
"I’m still young, I still have the energy, I still have the power," he said. "I could do anything I want."
In late January the two restaurants said they were told, with little explanation, they had to pack up and leave within two months.
They say the company that runs the food court, Crombie REIT, later said they could stay, but under certain conditions. One of them was a near-doubling of rent.
The two restaurants have garnered significant sympathy. An online petition with more than 5,200 signatures was presented to Crombie.
Taste of India owner John Nakka said he’s decided he can live with the new conditions, and with customer support has decided to raise his prices. He also must move his restaurant to another part of the food court.
"Customers are supporting overwhelmingly that they wanted me to stay here," he said.