Elizabeth Manso has worked at Kensington Meats for 21 years, ever since her parents first opened the Kensington Avenue butcher shop. Of all the changes she’s seen over the years, few have been as significant as this month’s closure of European Quality Meats and Sausages, the market stalwart that spent over 50 years on Baldwin Street (and, coincidently, was where Manso was employed when she was 18).
Most of the press about European Meats has focused on its customers and staff, but a quick talk with Manso reveals how vital the store was to the liveliness of the whole neighbourhood. “European attracted a lot of people down here,” she says. “Since they closed, it’s been a ghost town.”
European Meats manager Shalom Koningsberg suggested several weeks ago in an interview with Torontoist that “yuppies” were changing the nature of the market. Manso agrees that the neighbourhood is evolving, but in a different, more diverse way. “When we first opened, it was predominantly older European couples coming in,” she says. “Now we have their children or grandchildren as customers.” Along with others with European, West Indian, and Asian backgrounds, they form the base of her business—a base that’s thinned out a little since European Meats moved out.
Manso’s hopeful, though, that things will pick up. Her shop stocks a little bit of everything, from beef ribs, steaks, and roasts to pork shoulders, pigs feet, and ears. (It’s even provided suckling pigs for nearby frat-house parties.) She’s now waiting to see how things will turn out. “I wish I knew the future,” she says. “I’d love to be here for 50 years. I have the energy for it. I just need the customers to come in.”
Kensington Meats, 63 Kensington Ave., 416-596-7911