Group pressures council to ‘vote no’ to Tuggs deal

A group of Beach residents who want the city to take action against Tuggs Inc., the leaseholder who holds exclusive food and beverage rights to the Lakeshore eatery complex at Woodbine Park as well as other Beach park properties, hope that after meeting with the mayor last week, the situation will sway in their favour.

City council meets tomorrow, October 5, to discuss whether or not Tuggs Inc., the company which owns an exclusive 20-year lease to the city’s eastern beach properties, can assign a portion of its lease to Cara Operations Limited, the chain restaurant corporation and operator of Carter’s Landing, the restaurant which opened at the location earlier this summer.

Over the weekend, media reports citing family court documents state that George Foulidis, the owner of Tuggs Inc., claims to be under extreme financial duress and is asking for the reassignment as a way to come out of debt.

However, “Foulidis downplayed any link between his financial issues and desire to reassign part of the Ashbridge’s Bay lease,” writes the Toronto Star in its story about the divorce court documents.

Meanwhile, “Free the Beach”, an advocacy group formed last month in reaction to proposed changes to the lease, has been circulating a petition and releasing information on its website for the last several weeks. The group is eager to see how council handles the reassignment request at its meeting tomorrow.

They are trying to convince city officials to vote no to what they refer to as the “lease switch”, alleging the tenant violated the lease and is not in a position to ask the city to reassign a portion of its lease to Cara.

“He’s not in a position to be asking for consent,” said lawyer and community advocate Martin Gladstone, who helped spearhead the “Free the Beach” group. “He didn’t get his consent before he handed over possession to Cara, which he was supposed to do [according to his lease].”

The group’s aim has been to put pressure on councillors to stop the deal, and in particular to pressure Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon to convince her colleagues the deal is bad for the community and should be discussed in an open forum.

Previous meetings have gone ‘in camera’ so that council could receive legal advice.

“I’m not happy with the deal, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make it right for the Beach,” said McMahon, noting “we’re discussing someone’s lease. If you were talking about your lease to your apartment, it’s private and confidential. But I’m going to push and I’m going to push them harder at council to make as much of the debate as public as we can.”

Gladstone met with Mayor John Tory on September 29 in an effort to explain how the lease has affected the community and provide him with documentation.

“There were about eight people there in his office,” said Gladstone, including councillor McMahon. “He took it pretty seriously.”

The group shared their increasing frustration about the deal with the mayor, who also took the time to read through testimonials from Beach residents.

“He emailed me after the meeting to tell me how affected he was by them,” said Gladstone.

His group is also advocating for more transparency – and for council to take bold action.

“We keep hearing we’re stuck with it … that we really don’t have any options or leverage,” he said. “In fact we have enormous leverage to push back on this.”

The new deal, if approved, would see Cara take over the lease for the Lakeshore building at Woodbine Park which contains Carter’s Landing, Tim Hortons, and the Athens Bakery, as well as concessions at Kew Gardens and the Donald D. Summerville Pool.

Cara would then sublease back to Tuggs all portions of the buildings, except for the section containing Carter’s Landing. Foulidis is the franchise operator of the Tim Hortons.

As was the case when the lease was signed in 2010, Tuggs would continue to have exclusive food, beverage and sponsorship activity rights to events at Woodbine Beach, Ashbridges Bay, and Kew Gardens.


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7 comments

By chance if this matter doesn’t get stopped and proper bold language modified into Tugg’s current magical lease you can kiss the entire beach and board walk Bye bye forever it will be transformed into a big box type of operation and perhaps one day down the road we will need to pay a fee for admission to enter the boardwalk, if this Cara deal between the city of Toronto gets the royal green light to go ahead to sublet the remaining portion to Cara from Tugg’s

All The Best,
Reporter

Blame Tom Jakobek! First it was Tuggs and then the computer scandal. Is it a co-incidence that Tom Jakobek may have been the CEO at East General Hospital at the time and Foulidas gets the Tim Hortons Franchise at the hospital?

Everyone seems to want to blame the current councilor. The blame is on Jakobek/Bussin.

The question may be-how much will it cost to break this lease and is it worth it? Should it be allowed to expire and then put it out for proper tendering? Should the rest of the tax payers in Toronto pay what is thought to be millions to break this lease?

It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

The story of George Foulidas and Tuggs Inc. and their Lease, could have been written differently if only Foulidas had of made different choices.

Mr. Foulidas chose to be a man of business. His decades of operating his long term boardwalk-based food and beverage enterprises became the anvil upon which he pounded out an identity that is reputed by many local residents to be a penurious business operator and a curmudgeon, whose lease activities may be regarded as scandalous and possibly discreditable.
Foulidas, in my opinion and for what it is worth, railed against the very people to whom he relied on for conducting his commerce. He fought with the community. He challenged neighbourhood services who attempted to raise funds selling food and beverages on his lease hold. He seemed disinterested in helping to promote community services and their special events. He complained when a community charity handed out free small bags of potato chips to kids from the inner city who had no lunch during a summer day camp outing. He unsuccessfully sued a mayoral candidate for suggesting there may be political corruption afoot. He used his intellect and business acumen to navigate and maybe manipulate the outer frontiers of his lease. The end result is that business pressures may have caused him to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and possibly contributed to a failed marriage and a composite of general misery.
Mr. Foulidas could have taken a completely different business…

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Foulidas could have taken a business trajectory that worked with the community. He could have established himself as one, if not the greatest business community supporter and leader of all time. He could have easily formulated a business plan that not only made him money, but helped to raise thousands of dollars to support the fundraising efforts of those community agencies, organizations and causes that contribute to the quality of city life and whose programs and services help to make the Beach a desired place to live and work and play.
He could have developed and cultivated symbiotic relationships all of which would have returned his investments considerably. He could have chosen to support the small fundraising endeavours of all the local Non Profit and Charity groups who needed access to the busy locations that he had exclusively controlled within his lease. His support and encouragement and the philanthropic investments he could have made in the neighbourhoods in which he conducted business may have earned him the Grand Marshallship of the Easter Parade or Centre 55’s Christmas Parade. Possibly he could have been the Citizen of the Year, or received a special Civic Award of Merit or the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship. He could have been recognized and appreciated similar to someone who is hoisted up on the shoulders of a community and carried around as their Champion. The respectful and dignified relationships he could have cultivated in the…

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neigbourhoods could have had local residents excited to line-up to support his Boardwalk Eateries and he may have been so successful that reservations would be required. Diners may have sat in anticipation that he may recognize them and grace their table with his courteous and momentary presence. Residents, sports leagues, charities, and others may have supported his lease renewals with continuous deputations and statements and testimonials about Foulidas being “as good a man, as the good old city knew.”
Sadly however, he chose a path that may have led him to losing hundreds of thousands of dollars and possibly his marriage and maybe a composite of misery.
In a City that regards itself as accessible, fair, and transparent, this lease is absolutely antithetical to their operating paradigms. At the very least it should be renegotiated. The irony here, is the two local politicians who supported this lease are no longer serving and we continue to have hundreds of hours of expensive bureaucratic and political hours being squandered on this lease and the likelihood of a very very expensive revocation. Breaking this lease, if possible, may be costly but in principle it is the right thing to do. If it becomes more trouble than its worth, (ie. debilitating too expensive to revoke ), then at the very least new relationship with the community should be developed.
The epitaph remains to be written, and hopefully if and when a new lease is negotiated, the City and…

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the Lease holder will agree that business and community should work together. The result of a collaborative spirit will be a better and stronger community. I think the only people laughing here are the Cara Operations who unprecedentedly stepped onto prime public waterfront property that otherwise may never have been made available.

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