The reopening will come after an outpour of support from the community, including that of Mohamad Fakih, CEO of Paramount Fine Foods.
“I spent two years of my life fighting hate; me and my family,” Fakih said at a press conference on Thursday morning. “I don’t think businesses should be closed.”
Soufi’s owners Husam Alsoufi and Shahnaz Alsoufi chose to permanently close their restaurant on Tuesday in order to maintain the safety of family and staff.
The family and eatery had been inundated with threats after their son was identified as a protestor at a Maxime Bernier event that became violent, where an 85-year-old woman with a walker was blocked from entering and was reportedly called a “racist” and a “Nazi.”
“Our decision to close down the restaurant yesterday came from a place of fear. In doing so, we hoped that the threat to our family and staff would dissolve, and that the hate messages would subside,” Husam said on Thursday.
“We just want it all to end, and to live in peace again.”
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Fakih emphasized the importance of proving that Toronto, and Canada as a whole, are safe for business. As such, he will be sending managers from his own restaurant chain, Paramount Fine Foods, to operate Soufi’s while the Alsoufi family takes time to rest.
“We’re going to send a message that hate will never win in Canada,” Fakih said.
All of the staff who had been let go from their positions when the restaurant closed will be re-hired, Fakih said, and should the time come when security measures need to be organized for the space, he will organize them.
“We do not wish to set a tragic example for future immigrants and refugee business owners as the business that gave into hate,” Husam said.
“And yet, I remain in fear for my family’s well-being and safety. And that will always be my first concern.”
Beyond his own involvement, Fakih is calling for community members to support the restaurant. While Paramount managers will take over leadership roles in the space for the time being, all funds will still go towards the Alsoufi family.
“They need your support. They don’t feel good about what happened,” Fakih told the room.
And thus far, it seems that the community is prepared to support the restaurant. The front windows are plastered with messages of love and support, and Husam says that there are even more than what the storefront shows.
In addition to community-members, politicians including Toronto Mayor John Tory and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have expressed their support for the family-owned establishment.
Hatred and threats of violence have no place in Canada. We are always stronger together than when we’re divided. https://t.co/vnGmX1vts9
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 9, 2019
Husam said that when the restaurant opens, he plans to hang the hundreds of supportive messages around the space.