The chatter started months before Mark McEwan opened the doors to his gourmet groceteria last June. The choice of location, which was then a tired strip of Lawrence East, seemed quixotic at best. As boutique shops go, it was cavernously large: at 22,000 square feet, it was 33 per cent bigger than Pusateri’s, which until then had been the first and last word in high-end groceries in Toronto. And then there was the timing. Weren’t we in the middle of a recession? Surely shoppers were trading down, looking for bargains. Would they really pay $12.95 for chicken caesar salad? Or $6.25 for a squat 250-millilitre jar of salad dressing?
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