Caplansky’s Deli closure comes after years of health infractions

Pop Goes The News — The owner of Toronto’s popular Caplansky’s Deli has vowed to fight the seizure of his flagship restaurant by his landlord.

The College Street restaurant was locked by a bailiff overnight Monday. A sign posted on the door said the lease was terminated because Caplansky’s failed “to effect repairs not authorized by the landlord.”

Reached by the Toronto Star, landlord Walter Kung said the restaurant was closed due to “a safety issue.”

Owner Zane Caplansky told CP24 he plans to seek a court injunction to re-open his restaurant, which also serves his catering and food truck operations.

The sudden closure this week is the latest drama for the College St. deli, which has a less-than-stellar history with Toronto Public Health.

Between February 2010 and January 2012, it was hit with seven Conditional Passes and cited for a whopping 56 infractions — including 42 that were identified as “Significant” or “Crucial.”

(Ironically, Caplansky’s mother Elinor Caplan served as Ontario’s minister of health from 1987 to 1990 and his brother David Caplan was minister of health from 2007 to 2009.)

According to DineSafe records, the restaurant was also cited for two by-law violations during the same period — one for failing to produce a valid food handler’s certificate and one for not producing its last food safety inspection report.

Some of the infractions at Caplansky’s are stomach-turning, including failures to “maintain hazardous foods at 4C or colder,” to “protect food from contamination or adulteration,” and to “provide hand washing supplies.”

It was repeatedly found to have not properly washed surfaces and utensils and was once cited for storing ice “in unsanitary manner.”

The restaurant was hit four times for failing to have adequate pest control.

During one inspection in October 2011, Caplansky’s was found to have failed to “thoroughly re-heat hazardous food items” and to “maintain hazardous foods at 60C or hotter.”

A January 2012 inspection found hazardous foods not properly heated and failures to “use proper procedure(s) to ensure food safety” and “ensure premises cleaned to prevent food contamination.”

Caplansky’s appears to have been cleaning up its act, though.

Toronto Public Health inspected the restaurant three times in the last year and — although the restaurant was given a Pass each time — it found one “Significant” violation and three “Minor” ones.

On May 19, 2015, an inspector found Caplansky’s failed to protect food from contamination — specifically because it did not “ensure cover will prevent contamination or adulteration.” It also failed “to properly maintain rooms.”

When an inspector returned on Nov. 5, 2015, he noted that the restaurant failed “to properly maintain rooms.”

It was cited for failing to “properly maintain equipment (non-food)” during an inspection on Mar. 23.

Caplansky’s received a Pass after an inspection on Aug. 24, 2014 despite a “Significant” failure to “protect food from contamination” that was corrected on the spot.

Caplansky is a familiar face on Canadian television, having appeared on Dragon’s Den, You Gotta Eat Here!, and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He was also a judge on the Food Network series Donut Showdown.