I heard about this on Saturday evening, and in the 2 days since, the story has only grown larger. The more I think about it, the more it ticks me (and hundreds of others) off.
Ray's Lebanese Cuisine and A Touch of India, two entries in the Scotia Square food court, are being evicted by the end of March, 2014.
I am not happy about this. Ray's falafels were so popular that he won for best falafel year after year in the Coast. It reached the point where they retired the category because nobody else had a chance of winning in it. I loved his combo plate, containing tabouli salad, chicken, rice, lentils, hummus and a piece of pita bread for only about six dollars. He always pretended to recognize me and to call me "friend". He is a great guy, with a wonderful product. Routinely at lunch time, people are lined up for his excellent food. If his lines were too long, or the lines were too long at A Touch of India, people would migrate to other entries in the food court.
I don't miss much from my years of working in downtown Halifax. I did at first, but not now. I don't miss the traffic. I don't miss the panhandlers. I don't miss the dirt and grime of that part of the city. But I do miss little restaurants like Ray's Lebanese Cuisine and I hope to get at least one more combo plate from him before he has to leave Scotia Square.
The brain trust who own Scotia Square, the Sobeys, have decided that it is better to get rid of Ray's business and the Indian restaurant next door to him, in favour of a large multinational like Subway. There is no way that this will be an improvement for anybody. People are not going to line up for blocks around for a six inch tuna sub from Subway. What they will do is line up outside of wherever Ray moves to and to wherever the folks who own A Touch of India end up.
Small business is the life blood of any economy. They seldom need government subsidies. They hire a few people and buy local supplies and provide a product that is consumed locally. It's all good. It should be encouraged, and not thrown under the bus by people who are jealous of the business and want to be there instead.
I am not going to organize any kind of boycott here. I am just stating that I have made the personal decision not to patronize anything from the Sobey family. That means I won't go to their grocery stores, I will not buy anything from any Lawton's drug store, and I will endeavour not even to enter any building owned or managed by that family company. They have to understand that people are disappointed by this decision; the only way to do that is to vote with your pocketbook. Do what you want. I know I will.
Ray, I hope you land on your feet. You are too good for downtown Halifax. Go to where you are wanted, like the North End. Hey, move to Young Street so that I can go to your establishment a couple of times a week.
Good luck, my friend.
See you tomorrow.