BY KEVIN CONNOR, TORONTO SUN – A group in the Beaches has started a petition to stop restaurateur George Foulidis from subleasing a prime waterfront location to a food-chain giant.
Tuggs Inc. requires city council approval to assign the lease to the large food corporation Cara Foods.
Tuggs owner George Foulidis inked a controversial 20-year deal with the city in 2010 for the exclusive food, beverage and sponsorship rights to a considerable stretch of the Eastern Waterfront that takes in Ashbridges Bay, Beaches Park, Kew Gardens Park and Woodbine Beach Park. The deal was resoundingly criticized at the time for being sole-sourced, but former councillor Sandra Bussin convinced council that Foulidis would be a good fit because his was a “mom-and-pop” operation.
“The objective of the petition is (that) we don’t want the city to repeat mistakes of the past with deals made behind closed doors where they signed away the beach,” said petition founder and lawyer Martin Gladstone, who so far has 700 signatures against the Cara deal.
“There are many unhappy people in the Beach and we have one opportunity to get this right.”
Gladstone says Foulidis has violated his lease agreement as he needed city approval to transfer any part of his lease, and Cara’s Carters Landing restaurant opened in the Tuggs-leased space at Ashbridges Bay Park in July.
“He needed prior approval to have a new tenant and he violated that. He broke the lease with a large tenant and hopefully City Hall will push back and put his feet to the fire,” Gladstone said.
The city’s government relations committee discussed the latest request from Tuggs Inc. behind closed doors earlier this month and sent the report to the Oct. 5 council meeting with no recommendation.
Beach Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said it had to be that way because there were legal implications.
“This is a highly litigious situation and we have been in court with (Foulidis) many times,” McMahon said. “I want to bring as much information to the public as possible.”
McMahon, who beat the incumbent councillor in the last election mainly on the Tuggs lease issue, says the deal is one that never should have gone through.
“This is the best location for a restaurant in the city and it should have been put out for tender,” she said, adding many creative possibilities were missed.
Foulidis didn’t return calls on Wednesday.