Toronto restaurant turns 100

Toronto restaurant turns 100

What is possibly Toronto’s oldest eatery, United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, turns 100 this year.

Toronto’s oldest family restaurant turns 100 this year.

To celebrate, United Bakers Dairy Restaurant is asking customers and friends to contribute stories for a booklet that will come out during a birthday bash in May.

Philip Ladovsky, who owns the dairy institution with his sister Ruthie, says they’ve already received “really wonderful submissions” for the “Stories for One Hundred Years” project.

“A lot of the stories date back to when people first entered United Bakers — many as youngsters, some as new arrivals in Toronto, most in the company of family or friends. The recurrent theme seems to be that they all felt a sense of being comfortable, that being at UB was like being at home.”

Ladovsky’s Polish grandparents Aaron and Sarah Ladovsky started United Bakers downtown in 1912, first on Agnes St. (now Dundas St.) near Bay, and then on Spadina Ave. near what was then the Jewish neighbourhood of Kensington Market. Later Ladovsky’s dad, Herman, took over. The family opened a second branch in Lawrence Plaza, at 506 Lawrence Ave. W., near Bathurst St., in 1984, and shut down the Spadina location two years later.

“Rabbis, priests, bookmakers, businessmen, athletes, neighbours and dairy food gourmets from across town chatted at the tables on equal terms,” wrote the Star in a 1986 article to mark the downtown closing. “Warmth and easy friendliness is a specialty of the house,”

United Bakers doesn’t serve meat, just dairy and things that are pareve (neutral) like fish, fruit and vegetables. (Mixtures of milk and meat are forbidden according to Jewish dietary laws.)

The restaurant is renowned for its thick, vegetable-based soups. The green split pea soup and the beet borscht (hot or cold) are so popular they’re served daily. Cheese blintzes, gefilte fish, lox and cream cheese platters, latkes and cabbage rolls all have their loyal fans.

The Ladovskys still work the floor and greet the many regular customers by name.

On the menu, they write: “We probably knew your grandparents, and we’d like to know you, and your children, too.”

Their goal, then and now, is “to be the restaurant that feels like home.”

To contribute to the United Bakers story project, email or click on the “100 Years” tab on its website to find out more.

– From The Toronto Star