Built by the Community

Talking about small businesses, restaurants, rising rents, gentrification, displacement

Bernard FarrolShowing off a few wares at Bernard’s Filipino Specialties, located in Parkdale since 1978

The area here, when there were a lot of Filipinos going into the shop and a lot of friends…you feel that it is almost home. Old friends used to be almost all our customers. But now there’s a lot of competition. Bernard Farrol, owner of Bernard’s

Motivated by a desire to give back and help others, Garab Serdok raised over $5000 to aid the 2015 Nepal earthquake relief efforts. His contribution was celebrated in a Toronto Star article (framed in the background).

Parkdale has been built by the community, by the locals. And the locals deserve business, rather than big companies. When Parkdale had a bad reputation, none of the big businesses were here.


The small businesses helped build the neighbourhood up and we deserve to stay.


— Garab Serdok
Owner of Tibet Kitchen, Parkdale

Parkdale has gone through tremendous change over the last few decades. The stretch of Queen Street West, once dotted with small family-owned businesses, is now home to boutiques, cafes and corporate franchises. Parkdale’s reputation has changed from that of a neighbourhood for low-income immigrant families to a trendy place. Gentrification has had a harsh impact on the lives of small business owners and residents who helped make Parkdale the diverse, vibrant community that it is today.

Garab Serdok, owner of Tibet Kitchen, a popular Tibetan restaurant in the neighbourhood, was faced with a steep rent increase and had to compete with corporations like Pizza Hut who wanted his storefront space. A petition was started by a loyal customer and signed by hundreds of others, which brought attention to the cause but didn’t ultimately change the landlord’s mind. Garab remarks, “I am just enjoying the bone. He (the landlord) is eating the meat.”

Bernard Farrol’s Parkdale-based store, which sells Filipino products, seems to be one of the few businesses that has weathered the storm brought in by gentrification. Bernard owns the building which houses his store and this allows him to preserve his culture by selling Filipino foods and products without worrying about rent increases. However, Bernard remarks on the increase in competition and says that the store which once felt like home to him is beginning to feel almost neglected.

Listen to Garab Serdok and Bernard Farrol talk about starting their businesses in Parkdale and the challenges they face in the neighbourhood today.