Vintage Toronto Ads: Sample Some Switzer's
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Vintage Toronto Ads: Sample Some Switzer’s

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Source: The Best of Toronto, 1980.

When Switzer’s served the final hearty sandwich at its 322 Spadina Avenue location on September 15, 1991, it was the last deli standing on what had once been a prime strip for diners to get their fix of Jewish delicacies. While competitors like Shopsy’s and United Bakers moved elsewhere, Switzer’s stuck it out a few more years as nearby storefronts started to sell noodles instead of knishes.


One item on Switzer’s menu that received high marks from a review in the Toronto Star around the time this ad appeared was the fries:

Toronto’s best fry is sort of a second string specialty here. This deli may be better known for its corned beef and knishes, but the fries are good enough to be put in the window, too. Short little homemade devils, crisp on the outside, downy on the inside. They carve up the Ontario-grown spuds right there, boil them in Super Fry pure vegetable oil (which is changed four times a week) and, yes, they do blanch them (pre-cook ‘em and then throw them back in the oil for another 60 seconds upon each order). But they’ve got a flavour that any mama would envy. No need to bother with the gravy. Downing these chippies is a crime.

Shortly before the Spadina location closed, general manager and co-owner Eric Solomon shared his memory of one of the many characters who passed through Switzer’s doors:

We once had a woman come in for a corned beef sandwich and she said she had no money but could she sing for her supper? She then proceeded to sing and dance to “Hava Nagilah” up and down the aisles of the restaurant. Everyone was singing and clapping with her, so of course we fed her. The best was when she asked if the pickle was extra and she started to sing and dance again.

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Source: the Canadian Jewish News, September 12, 1991.

Besides the move of Jewish clientele north from Kensington Market, Solomon saw parking as a major reason for the demise of the Spadina location. Tickets were handed out freely, and the scarce number of spaces along Spadina was to be further limited with the forthcoming streetcar line. Today, 322 Spadina serves up bánh mì instead of corned beef, thanks to Nguyen Huong. Of the other Switzer’s locations listed in today’s ad, only the Torbram Road branch still operates as Switzer’s.
Additional information from the September 12, 1991 edition of the Canadian Jewish News; and the March 3, 1981 and April 17, 1991 editions of the Toronto Star.

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