Cluck, Grunt and Low silenced: The carnivore’s paradise closes rather abruptly
The meat lovers among us were surprised and saddened by today’s unexpected news: Cluck, Grunt and Low—the Annex’s go-to ribs palace—will be shuttering for good tonight. Morale at the barbecue pit has been low since Monday, when the staff was notified that the restaurant was closing; but they were not told by either owner Wesley Thuro or the general manager. “I think the owners no longer want to play,” says a frustrated and shocked server who declined to give a name. “Given the way the economy is, April was going quite good. In fact, we were making back the money that we didn’t make during the winter months, when business tends to be slower.”
The server says that Thuro had been hands-off during the ordeal (on Friday afternoon, Thuro was in Parry Sound on another business venture and unreachable) and that the manager had already been “cut loose.” For the past few days, only the staff has been on-site, trying to hold things together until tonight, “when we run out of food.” The restaurant has been for sale for a while, but despite the prime location and sunny patio, few buyers were attracted during the recession. Rumours, however, indicate that the joint may have changed hands recently and may reopen with a new name but similar menu.
The southern barbecue pit opened to much fanfare just two years ago. It received an honourable mention from James Chatto in our guide to the best new restaurants of 2008, was voted the best place for cheap eats by BlogTO readers last year and, at one time, had two of the city’s top chefs—Marc Thuet and Paul Boehmer (Scaramouche, Opus, Atlas)—as menu consultants. Boehmer left in the restaurant’s first year to be the executive chef of the Rosewater Supper Club, and Thuet left last year to open Bite Me.
Boehmer, who is planning to open his own spot on Ossington this summer, seemed as surprised as our unnamed source to hear the news, saying he had a great experience developing the restaurant’s menu and working with Thuro. We feel his pain but are getting over our shock in order to keep an eye on the story as it develops.
27 thoughts on “Cluck, Grunt and Low silenced: The carnivore’s paradise closes rather abruptly”
This is horrible news.
matt said it. this is terrible news for those of us who are sick of phils (overrated) ribs. i miss the kansas city sauce at cg&l already. why the hell cant any business survive in the annex without offing absurdly small prices and ridiculously bad quality items (see the shut down of that sushi joint)??
Wow… I do hope it reopens with a similar menu… I’m addicted!
Sign on the window today (May 4) says something to the effect of “closed due to the untimely death of one of our founders.” That sign definitely doesn’t give the impression of permanent closure … who knows what’s really going on.
This restaurant failed simply because the food wasn’t good. Even to Torontonian BBQ standards, the food here was pedestrian.
I agree with commenter “chenyip” that the food wasn’t good — not consistent actually — I do remember having one great meal there, and then 3 subsequently lousy or mediocre meals in a row, and each for different reasons. Three strikes was enough to make me never want to return to give them another chance.
But that’s not necessarily why the restaurant failed. Toronto seems to support mediocrity at restaurants… hey, Phil’s BBQ is still operating!
Let’s hope, that with a choice space like this, the new owners of the CG&L spot will turn it into an eatery of high standards, consistency, yummy food and great service (or is that too much to ask for?)
This restaurant sounded promising, yet didn’t deliver. There are so many BBQ enthusiasts in the city – yet we never get anything resembling the real thing. The Stockyards is a new joint on St. Clair…let’s up they pick up the reigns…
Food was awesome, especially the Memphis Dry Rub. It was a nice change from the typical over-priced T-Dot food which is stacked higher than wide
If you’re good then you last. I’ve been going to Phil’s Original BBQ for years and, guess what, it’s still around.
What got me was the sign for the staff, basically saying, if you want to get paid, send your SIN, name, address, hours, etc to *address*. Very wierd. Wouldn’t they have that information already? Gives the impression that the managers cut bait and dissapeared… I really hope that’s not the case!
Hope the staff are taken care of. Good luck, guys.
This place was great, as someone who had lived for some time in Texas and the Southern US, it was an essential Toronto restaurant. Hopefully they reopen. In the meantime, get a pulled pork sandwich at Lou Dawgs on King.
Tried to go for Mother’s Day dinner yesterday. Very disappointed to see the signs. I heard the cornbread was amazing! I hope they re-open soon. Any other good suggestions (other than Phil’s)?
I’ve heard great things about Highway 61: http://www.highway61.ca/
Haven’t had a chance to try it yet myself, but I know several repeat diners.
Phils is the closest we’ve got to a real down and dirty BBQ joint here in the GTA. Sad to see any business close and people out of work. The replacment for CG&L, Highway 61, is pretty much the same and the sides are not quite as good in my opinion. Both CG&L and Highway 61 still feel like canned versions of BBQ as if a Caseys or big chain was making their attempt at it. I don’t see Highway 61 lasting either. Staff are great but the food and atmosphere are still missing something. No one is going to make it in the BBQ world here until you see those real meat smokers and the tried and true BBQing environments like they have in the southern US at BBQ diners.
I am one of the former staff members of CGL, and as per the notice on the window asking for our information, you would be right to assume the people in charge jumped ship. No one has been paid as of yet. The previous location which was opened then closed on bayview closed shop by changing locks and not informing employees. Some employees waited over six months only to recieve partial payment. Needless to say The owner of Cluck was a shady bastard.
CGL is an unfortunate loss to our culture. At Lou Dawg’s we will service all your BBQ needs!
Being American, I’m always on the lookout for places around the city that can substitute for soul food. I checked out CGL and thought the food was good, not great. The problem I had with CGL was that it was operated like the typical Toronto restaurant: small portions, fancy menu, higher price. The best BBQ joints are unpretentious, with a focus on great food and simple menu and ambiance. I realize this isn’t the US, yet everything doesn’t have to be “Canadianized” in order to be successful.
BTW, tried Lou Dawgs and was extremely disappointed. In a word, the food sucked. The lady taking the orders was a vegetarian and the preparers were Asian. This tells me that the owners are not serious.
It’s funny. all of the articles written about this Resto’s closure seem to suggest that corner as an impossible sell. This has, historically been true. The Cluck was close though! Observers saw sales slag in the winter months, but the place fills in summer. With a fair sized patio and pretty substantial seating inside, it seems a wonder that it failed so quickly.
Smoked food; locally bought and slow cooked, large sides and a great appetizer menu, what gives? And it seems the same story goes for the Bayview location. The fact that an almost identical resto has hopped in the hole and is thriving (so I hear) speaks volumes. So what gives?
Well, as the ridiculous posters on the windows of cluck would suggest, the owners passed due to Swine Flu, Avian Flu and Mad Cow Disease. How funny. I wonder which meathead thought of this moniker.
But it gets better doesn’t it? As Belial666 has suggested, the management doesn’t have any staff info. What the? Most of this staff have been there snce the place opened.
Where has the ownership/management been? According to staff, they have been AWOL for months.
Digging a bit deeper, one finds that this confederacy of fools gave another staff and restaurant the big shaft. Yes, the Bayview place was closed without so much as a phone call to staff! Some got paid, six months later after a facebook page was created to badmouth the place. Some still have not seen recompense.
So, a great place with huge potential is allowed to drop unceremoniously into the waste basket, and a large group of employees; loyal to the last, selling until food was literally gone on closing day, await months of struggle to recieve that which they earned.
Unnecessary finds new meaning.
Sadly enough to see a groovy local joint closed, even more jarring to see the little guy getting trod upon.
Compared to real southern BBQ, CGnL was mediocre at best. The brisket was soft, not tender. The ribs were pull off the bone, not fall off the bone. The quality was about as good as Kelsey’s. This place deserved to shut down.
Went three times. First time great and twice awful. Prices were high. Never went back after third time. Voted with my feet and wallet.
Wow Stacey, your comment was a little on the racist/meat-centric side!
As far as real BBQ in the city, Phil’s and Lou Dawg’s are the only restaurants with in house smokers. CGnL’s food was all prepared off-site.
My in-laws are from Missouri, so I know the good ‘Q (like Gates, Arthur Bryant’s and Biffle’s). CG&L was dire. I’ve had better BBQ beans from a Heinz can, and their sauce was a watery disgrace.
Never went there, but there are plenty of mediocre restaurants in this city that seem to survive and even thrive. Nope. It’s the corner, I’m tellin’ ya. Nothing lasts long there. That corner is cursed. I start a mental pool everytime I see something new open up there.
I was all excited to learn about this restaurant, but couldn’t even get past the exterior to try the food.
Nothing doesn’t say BBQ joint like an exterior, scrolling electronic menu. Also, the big wide open windows of that storefront do not lend themselves to dining. I certainly don’t want to eat in a fish bowl, I want somewhere darker and intimate, ESPECIALLY for a BBQ joint.
No one mentions the Restaurant Make Over, and the brutal teachings of southern bbq to a wanabe cook from a famous un-named chef who knows squat about bbq. She cooked the pulled pork in a OVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not a bbq. HELLO!!! Never had to eat the food to tell you it was not the real deal. Owner looked like a rich snob, with little interest other than cash flow. Good food makes lines long, not lights and trinkets……
My husband and I just finished watching a TV re-run on Restaurant Makeover and found the restaurant to be very appealing. When we checked the listing on how to get there, the restaurant is closed. Too bad, as it’s hard to find ribs and chicken done the southern style, unless you make it yourself and also have a smoker for the delicious pulled pork sandwiches. too bad……Perhaps a new owner, will take over the restaurant and save the menu and the staff that made these wonderful meals!
Is Wesley Thuro the same guy who owns Studio25 Photographers in Ontario Canada?
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