Go-to spot for Chinese buns and desserts closes its doors after 3 decades in Chinatown

A long-standing staple in Chinatown, known for Chinese buns and desserts, is closing its doors next week after serving customers for more than three decades. 

Furama Cake & Desserts Garden, located on Spadina Avenue just south of Dundas Street, announced that it would permanently close on Sept. 29

The popular spot serves up Chinese favourites like BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns and egg tarts, along with traditional-style coffee, tea and other treats. 

Shawn Crewson has been going to Furama every afternoon for the last 10 years.

“The reason I come here is the quality of the products and actually the people that are serving them. It kind of feels a little like home,” he said, while holding a donut and a coffee — his usual.

“I know they’re here for the community and it’s heartbreaking to see them leave.”

‘It kind of feels a little like home,’ said Shawn Crewson who has been going to Furama for the past decade. (Angelina King/CBC)

Other customers made a special trip to stock up on treats before the bakery closes for good. 

“It’s kind of a huge part of my childhood,” said Cindy Ma. 

“Back when I lived in Markham, we used to make trips down here all the time just to get this.”

For years, Furama gave the community a comfortable place to gather and have a tasty snack for just a few dollars.

“Food is very strong in Chinese tradition,” said Arlene Chan, a writer and a researcher who has the reputation of being a Chinatown historian. 

“I think it’s going to be really missed in the community because it is a very unique and yet, at the same time, very familiar, traditional kind of place.”

Furama serves up Chinese favourites like BBQ pork buns, pineapple buns and egg tarts, along with traditional-style coffee, tea and other treats. (Angelina King/CBC)

Chan said Furama is one of the many places closing down on the popular strip that gives the area its charm.

“Losing Furama means that we’re chipping away at the number of bakeries that are still going to be left in Chinatown.”

It’s not clear why Furama is closing its doors but a sign taped to the storefront said it was “due to difficult circumstances.” 

Furama owners wouldn’t give CBC News an interview but a sign taped on their storefront said they are ‘sad to go and will miss you all.’ (Angelina King/CBC)

The owners of Furama did not give CBC News an interview but the note said they are “sad to go and will miss you all.”

“We hope our buns, desserts and drinks have brought you some joy over the years,” the note reads. 

“We’ve watched Chinatown going through many changes and are thankful to all our loyal customers who’ve supported us all this time.”

Chinatown businesses hard hit by pandemic

The chair of the Chinatown BIA Tonny Louie says the area has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite business coming back around 50 per cent when the city went into Stage 3 of reopening, Louie said it’s still not enough. 

“Either you can increase your revenue or you have to decrease your cost and there seems to be no room to move because the building owner has a mortgage, the tenant has rent to pay,” he said.

“All these costs cannot be reduced and meanwhile, there’s no business.”

Mayor John Tory said he is “saddened to hear that another business in Toronto has decided to close its doors” in a statement on Thursday. 

“Although, Furama has closed its doors, I will work very hard to ensure that this doesn’t put the rich cultural presence within Chinatown at risk,” the statement reads.

“Chinatown has been a foundational community and area within our city filled with restaurants, shops and residential areas. Our residents want this area protected and I am committed to doing just that.”.

Chan said she is optimistic about the future of Chinatown, even as some of its staples become a thing of the past. 

“I don’t want to look into my crystal ball and say, yes, because of the pandemic, Chinatown is really going to be something of the past. It’s hard to to say that,” Chan said.

“Before the pandemic, I just saw a lot of positive indicators that Chinatown was going to be all right.”

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