The Al-Soufi family, owners of Soufi's located on Queen Street West near Tecumseth Street, posted on Instagram on Tuesday, saying the restaurant is shutting down for good.
We would like to formally apologize for the incident that occurred with the elderly woman. Alaa regrets that he did not step aside and/ or stand up against the act of verbal abuse that occurred against her, and would love the opportunity to personally extend his apologies to her, the family said, adding that their son did not in any way verbally or physically assault the elderly woman.
"As a result of numerous hate messages & death threats we've received over the past week, we've decided to permanently close our shop," the message said. "Our decision is made with a heavy heart in effort to maintain our family and staff's safety."
The post's caption said, "Please know that we do not wish to hide or conceal the events that led to these threats, and wish to address the claims and information shared by certain media groups in the near future, once it's safe for us to do so."
Toronto police confirmed Tuesday that Soufi's owners notified police about threats made against the business on Oct. 2.
The restaurant ended up embroiled in controversy after the owner's son, according to a family acquaintance, was involved in a protest outside a speaking event for the People's Party of Canada leader in Hamilton on Sept. 29.
Some protesters attempted to prevent people from entering the building and one video, which was widely shared among Bernier supporters, shows several protesters blocking the path of 81-year-old Dorothy Martson and her husband.
"They were in a lineup … and treating me like I'm a criminal," she said, during a previous interview at the Hamilton-area retirement residence where she lives.
A large crowd of protesters decrying the event stood outside with signs advocating for immigrant rights and yelling chants denouncing those entering, comparing them to Nazis and neo-Nazis. Supporters of the People's Party — some wearing "Make America Great Again" hats — stood behind police and verbally engaged with some of the protesters for about an hour.
A scuffle occurred in the crowd of around 100 about half an hour before the event at Hamilton's Mohawk College was scheduled to start. Two men from opposing sides of the protests were led away in handcuffs by police.
The Syrian spot was featured in Toronto Life, Now Magazine, and was even profiled in an article by the New York Times, which referred to the restaurants food as Torontos new craving.
In a Facebook post last week, the restaurant identified one of the people who blocked Marston's way as a man named Alaa. A family acquaintance said Tuesday that Alaa is the owner's son.
"We would like to formally apologize for the unfortunate incident that occurred with the elderly woman," the statement from the Al-Soufi family read. "Alaa regrets that he did not step aside and/or stand up against the act of verbal abuse."
The Facebook post said the family is "extremely lucky and grateful" to be in Canada and respect people's opinions, but they "kindly ask that people refrain from sending abusive and/or threatening messages to our staff and family members."
The restaurant's Facebook page has since been deleted. CBC News has reached out to the owners for comment.
The restaurant's website outlines how the owners, Husam and Shahnaz Al-Soufi, immigrated to Canada in 2015 and opened what they described as "downtown Toronto's first Syrian restaurant and cafe."
In the Instagram post, the owners said that since opening in 2017, they had "been met with nothing but curiosity, respect, acceptance and love from the people of Toronto, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at [email protected]
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