Fiesta Farms purchases the land it sits on
Monica Gupta, chair of Friends of Christie Pits Park group, poses in front of the beloved neighbourhood grocer
Image: CJ Baek
For nearly 30 years, neighbourhood favourite Fiesta Farms has been at its location at 200 Christie Street. Now, after a successful negotiation to buy the property, it will remain there for many more years to come.
Fiesta Farms confirmed that the vendor, Essex Properties Inc., sold the four properties that make up the 2.10 acre site, to Salina Properties, the store’s parent company, for $28,500,000.
In June, residents noticed the advertised sale of the property where Fiesta Farms has been a tenant since 1989, and the conjecture began: would the independent, family-run store have to relocate? The business took to their blog to let customers know they held first right of refusal on third-party offers and hoped to soon own the property themselves.
News of the sale was first tweeted the morning of Aug 23, which Fiesta Farms confirmed with Post City shortly after.
Monica Gupta, a 20-year resident and chair of Friends of Christie Pits Park group, was pleased to hear the popular grocer would be staying.
“This is great news for Fiesta Farms and our community! It's such a pleasure to know a family-run business can be successful. Especially in these days of 'big grocery' chains and box stores,” said Gupta.
Tracey Virgona, Fiesta Farms’ store manager and daughter of the owner, said the outpouring of support they have received from the community has been overwhelming.
“This puts the cap on a thirty-year dream of a visionary entrepreneur and his family to secure the opportunity to continue our work in the city we serve. Joe Virgona started with a simple idea and a big heart: treat people like you'd like to be treated,” said Virgona.
Gupta called the store “a unique shopping experience,” and “a throwback to that kind of place you walk in and everyone knows your name,” that she said doesn’t exist anymore.
Councillor Mike Layton is also a fan, and said he shops at the store “a minimum of three times a week.” He calls Fiesta Farms a “food oasis” which has become a neighbourhood institution.
The concern over the sale had been third-party developers taking over the property, which is zoned as residential. Layton had explained that, from a purely planning perspective, “You’re not likely to get a high density on the site,” given the location is not that close to transit and isn’t on a main street.
Virgona said they were grateful to play their part in the community, who seem to support their ideals.
“At a time when five companies own most of the brands you find on grocery store shelves, exposing more people to healthier, locally grown, independently owned, and culturally appropriate options has never been more important,” said Virgona.