It’s one of those places you pass by as you walk or drive down the street, a neighbourhood restaurant like so many others.
Now, I’ve never been inside the Morning Glory — it’s on one of those streets where I rarely travel, and really not that close to my neighbourhood — but it was one of those places I intended on getting to someday.
Unfortunately, I will not have the opportunity.
The Morning Glory closed down at some point during these past pandemic months. It is like so many other neighbourhood restaurants or stores we pass by each day in our daily lives.
The past six months have been tough on business, particularly those small and family-owned. Some have managed to hold through the lockdown on by offering takeout and delivery; others have not been as fortunate, even after regulations began to loosen as COVID-19 cases seemed to drop.
The restaurant industry is not the only sector of the economy hard hit by this coronavirus in Toronto and all cities and towns across this country.
You now see the signs everywhere on the streets — “Store Closing”, “Closed”, “For Sale” or “For Lease” — just as you see the empty spaces through the streaky glass windows; places where people used to congregate for lunch on the run, or pick up a coffee to go.
For 17 years, the Morning Glory was that sort of place.
What struck me, as I stopped to read a letter posted inside the restaurant’s door, was the honesty and appreciation the owner had for the Morning Glory’s former customers.
“We have seen our fair share of ups and downs but one thing has remained constant, our community. Our beautiful customers, neighbours, friends and family have stuck with us on this journey. You let us into your lives. Together we shared so much more than just meals,” reads the open letter.
It is devastatingly sad how something unexpected, like this deadly virus, impacts the lives of so many people more than we may ever understand.
It is difficult knowing the Morning Glory will not be the only place in this city, or so many others, which will lose contact with people who became friends over a morning cup of coffee, or light banter over a late lunch.
These were people who were, at first, little more than strangers. They were nameless faces, as the former owner writes in this letter
“I don’t even know all your names. I will know how you all like your coffee and what you eat for breakfast though,” reads the letter.
It is so often said that small business is the lifeblood of this country. Judging by the number of shuttered mom and pop restaurants and corner stores I see now on my daily walks, the pulse of this fragile economy is on life support.
Despite the money being poured into stopgap measures designed by multiple levels of governments to stop the bleeding, we are still unsure of the prognosis.
Nobody has any idea of how long this will last, or the true impact of this pandemic on the global economy.
But we can look locally and see what it has done to our neighbourhoods.
And we can feel for neighbours we might never have known, and maybe make an extra effort to support those operations that are still in business, when we can and if we can.
Look around. This is your community.