The scene: A few tables and chairs occupy the main room, and the walls are painted with lively shades of yellow and green. In the adjoining room are two pool tables. The place is empty except for the owner, Nadi, her young daughter and two other young women.
Located at 155 Morningside Ave., Nadi’s Family Restaurant Bar and Pool Lounge sits in the middle of a small plaza in Scarborough’s east end and is at the center of a conflict involving Nadi and a handful of residents.
She recently applied for a liquor licence to serve alcohol on additional premises of her restaurant, but a few residents have voiced their concerns.
Ward 44 councillor Ron Moeser says he has received about six calls and emails from residents complaining the restaurant is the source of noise from music that plays past 2 a.m. and unruly behavior, including people urinating on nearby cars.
“My concern is if we can’t control what we have now and we’re getting complaints, if it expands, is that going to expand the problems that we’re seeing in the neighbourhood?” Moeser says.
“What I’ve done is set up a working committee with the owner and we’re going to see if we can work some of these issues out.”
But Nadi says the councillor hasn’t yet visited her restaurant and can’t fully understand the situation until he does.
Young adults often pass in front of the plaza very late at night or early in the morning and do make noise, Nadi agrees, but said she is not responsible for them, nor is she the only business owner in the plaza.
Another bar is at the far end of the plaza, but to Nadi’s knowledge no complaints have been made against it. She says she has nothing against the other bar but feels that all the problems the residents have are being dumped solely on her shoulders.
Nadi is receiving support from business owners in the plaza, as well as residents, she says. A petition was started and 200 people have so far signed.
Nadi recounted the time she first opened her restaurant. It was a fish and chips shop before she took over and changed it to Caribbean Place. Soon after she changed the name, she found a letter by her door.
“When I came to work the next morning, there was a letter by my door saying ‘It was a fish and chips for 45 years and now you come here and change it to Caribbean Place, I don’t think you’re welcome in the neighbourhood,” she said.
Nadi said she still doesn’t know who the author of the letter was, but kept it until last year. After receiving the letter, she changed the name back to a fish and chips bar, but saw that she wasn’t making money. She then switched it back to include the word ‘Caribbean’.
She says her quest for a liquor licence, along with the number of times she changed her restaurant sign, has cost about $5, 000.
“This is my bread and butter, and I’m a single mom,” says Nadi, tears forming in her eyes. “It’s me and me alone.”
After emigrating from Guyana in 1994, Nadi found work in a bar, which gave her the opportunity to learn about the business. Five years ago, after much hard work and perseverance, she opened her small restaurant, which she runs single-handedly.
“I have two pool tables over there, all the people who play are like my age, people who have grandchildren, who have a wife and kids to go home to, it’s not people who cause trouble,” she said. “It’s just family people, they play their game of pool and they go home. There’s nothing, what noise are they going to make?”
Her 19-year-old daughter, who was sitting at a nearby table, approached and stood beside her mom.
“She put a lot of money into this,” says Teena Kungbeharie. “She doesn’t have the best education in the world, but this is what she knows.”
Kungbeharie occasionally helps inside the kitchen or stops by the restaurant to check on her mom.
“The people who come in here, they have a lot of respect for my mom, nobody complains,”she says. “It’s probably like two or three people who are having such an effect on the whole decision whether they should get [the licence] or not.”