Resto owner blames closure on city

Accessibility renovations, tough business too much for Onassis Pizzeria

After 25 years of operating the Onassis Pizzeria on Eglinton Avenue East, Stella Grigoratos has closed up shop. Citing poor business, long hours, stiff competition and pressure from city hall to make renovations that would have cost her about $50,000, a sum she was not prepared to spend, she said enough is enough.

“The restaurant business had become pretty tough and the government wanted me to do renovations and install a washroom on the main floor,’’ said Grigoratos, 65. “I had washrooms downstairs but they wanted me to make it wheelchair accessible.

“I just decided I wasn’t going to do any renovations. I couldn’t put up with the government anymore. And I was working 12 hours or so every day and it was getting too hard.’’

Grigoratos was pretty much a one-person operation, serving up pizza along with dishes like chicken or pork souvlaki, chopped steak with spaghetti, sandwich wraps and salads.

On the same block, Grigoratos had to face competition for years from Domino’s Pizza and most recently from Shoeless Joe’s bar. Across the street is a long-time senior citizens’ home catering to Finnish people but none would ever go there to eat, much to her surprise and disappointment.

“I never did any advertising,’’ Grigoratos said. “If you advertise, you would get more business, but you would have to hire more workers.’’

When it would get busy, Grigoratos would get help from her daughter, her sister and a part-time cook.

She has sold the building and the restaurant and the new owner is expected to open up shop in the coming months.

About this article:

By: Danny Gallagher
Posted: Jul 6 2011 3:20 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto