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Complaints force Cambridge restaurant to close street-side grill

'It really just seems like someone is out to get us,' said the Silver Spoon as complaints force the city to shut down the popular street food grill
Cass, owner of Silver Spoon stands in front of his restaurant in Preston

A Caribbean restaurant in Preston has been put on the back burner, forced by the city to move their grill off the sidewalk. 

The Silver Spoon has become a recognizable sight to those who drive through Preston and often see the owner Cass grilling fresh barbecue by the intersection of King St. E and Westminster Drive. 

Mel Pereira has been working at the Silver Spoon at 656 King St E since their opening in 2018 and for as long as she can remember they've been grilling their signature dish, barbecue chicken on the Preston street. 

"This is one of our main sources of advertisement," said Pereira. "People walk by or drive by and smell the amazing food and they want to stop and come in." 

After receiving complaints about the smell and smoke from the grill, Pereira said they city came in last week to shut them down and move their grill to the back and away from the public eye. 

"When we first opened I called the city, the fire department and by-law to make sure we could grill outside and if I needed a permit we would get one," she said. "How come it's an issue now? It really just seems like someone is out to get us." 

The City of Cambridge was not available for comment. 

After suffering through years of construction on King Street and then the pandemic, the Silver Spoon was looking forward to grilling outside in the summer and bringing a little piece of the Island to Cambridge. Unfortunately for them, the street food aspect being a main focal point of Jamaican cuisine won't be allowed. 

Cass opened the Caribbean grill spot with the hopes of sharing his culture and his food with the community and giving other Jamaicans in the city a place to come and feel at home. 

"When the grill is out on the street and Cass can converse with customers and play music it's a whole vibe," added Pereira. "Now that the grill is in the back he is just really upset and defeated, it seems like people are always wanting to tear down his business." 

Being a black owned small business, Cass and Pereira feel like they are being unfairly attacked and that race has played a part in the response by a few locals who complained. 

In a Facebook post asking what happened to the grill, members of the Preston community were quick to voice their opinions on the subject. 

Some are defending Cass and his cooking style saying, "It took one person to complain about the smell and smoke with the barbecue so now he can't anymore only in the back of his store. It makes me sick he's been doing it for five years and now he can't."

Others were quick to guess it was more than just the smoke that caused the city to come down on the small business. 

"There's more to the story than just "not being allowed to barbecue". Silver Spoon has had months of noise complaints. There's the music, but more recently the issue was groups of motorcyclists on the patio endlessly revving their engines at night and doing burnouts in the street. Asking the owner to end it had no effect, so the City has essentially put a stop to it themselves," wrote a Preston resident. 

A neighbouring clothing store to the Silver Spoon, Ginny's Boutique said they have dealt with the smoke coming into the store and have had issues with the owners for years. 

"The smoke comes into the store and gets all over the clothes and their music is too loud and it has become too much," said Ginny, owner of Ginny's Boutique. 

Ginny has maintained that she was not the one who called to complain about the smoke, but is glad that for the time-being they are not on the street anymore. 

"Last Thursday looked like a wild fire out front so it's been nice to not have that for a few days, but they will be back out there cooking again, it won't last," she added. 

Currently the Silver Spoon has reached out to the local MPPs and ward councillors to try and reverse their street side ban. 

"We just want to have the vibe back and be happy doing what we love and sharing the culture with the community. It's a shame that one complaint can cause so much damage," added Pereira. 

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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