Frank Dimant knew what he was going to have for his “last lunch” days before he sat down at his table at Marky’s Deli & Restaurant. The cabbage borscht soup and a kishka had been on his mind since he heard the 43-year-old institution was closing.
“You absolutely can’t get this anywhere else in the city,” says Dimant, the executive vice-president of B’nai Brith. “This is the last of the really kosher Eastern-European Jewish delis, so it’s hard to see it go.”
After 43 years at the centre of the Bathurst and Wilson Jewish community, Marky’s is shutting down on July 18. While there’s no shortage of kosher restaurants in Toronto, many of the new entrants serve Middle Eastern-inspired food such as falafel and kebabs, not traditional European kosher fare such as liver and onions and goulashes, which are staples on Marky’s menu.
Owner Erez Karp says tougher economic conditions hastened his decision to close the premises. In the last year four kosher meat restaurants — ranging from Chinese food to upscale mixed grill restaurants — have also shuttered their doors in the GTA.
“It’s just been very tough on Orthodox families,” he said, noting that they typically send their children to private schools and pay a premium on real estate so they can be close to places of worship. With money tight “eating out becomes a major treat,” explains Karp.
Dimant says there are more than 200,000 Jews in the GTA, with anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent being orthodox, who require their food be kosher. Jewish dietary law restricts what they can eat and how their food is prepared.
This is sad, sad news. Babushka like NEVER gets to eat out, due to a severe lack of kosher restaurants in the Detroit area, and always looks forward to visits to Toronto where Marky's was a favorite.
There is no lack of crappy pizza and falafel joints, but Marky's was a deli of the old school, where you could get a nice pastrami sandwich and a hot bowl of matzo ball soup.
Marky's we will miss you!