LPK’s Culinary Groove Closing its Retail Doors December 31st, 2012…!

To Everyone,

It is with great deal of sadness, disappointment (and even anger), I am writing this letter to let you know that LPK’s will be closing its retail doors on December 31st, 2012.

I have ruminated on this decision for a long time. To say it’s been hard to live with is an understatement. For me, closing the doors on my dream is the saddest, hardest, and what sometimes feels like the loneliest thing I have ever had to do.

Why? There are so many reasons. Some are simple, and some more complicated. Be that as it may, I have learned many lessons over the past several years, and looking back, now realize how I could have done things differently. My core beliefs, however, are even stronger now than when LPK’s opened its retail doors in November of 2008.

Since starting LPK’s 14 years ago in my basement, time and time again, I was told it made better business sense to use cheaper, non-organic, non-fair trade ingredients; to use less expensive, environmentally irresponsible packaging; and, to seemingly be wasteful and less mindful because it made more financial sense, even if it was in direct conflict with LPK’s mission of “Delighting our clients by treating them, our ingredients and our world with love and respect.” However, we stuck to our proverbial guns, and as such, I will always be proud of the following:

  • LPK’s used certified organic, fairly/horizontally traded ingredients, along with Certified Local Sustainable ingredients whenever possible.
  • We chose less packaging, and demanded our suppliers seek out better, more sustainable choices for our products.
  • We tried to minimize our environmental impact each and every day in as many ways as possible.
  • We became Slow Food members, Local Food Plus supporters, and partook in various sustainable food related events like Slow Food Picnic, Foodstock, Soupstock, and the Farm Fresh Fare at the Green Living Show.
  • We were huge supporters of the Toronto Vegetarian Association, and enjoyed participating in many Toronto Vegetarian Food Festivals.
  • We participated, with great dedication, in several seasonal, local and organic farmers’ markets including: Evergreen Brick Works, Withrow Park, Riverdale Farm, Leslieville, Sorauren, and Apple Tree Markets.
  • We provided the best tasting organic, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free desserts Toronto had to offer, winning awards for: our Spicy Chevre Noir Shortbread (Best Spicy Dessert in Toronto 2010), our Vanilla and Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars in (Best Professionally Crafted Vegan Dessert, 2009 and 2010), and 2 People’s Choice Awards at the Wild Blueberry Festival 2012, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over Toronto 2012.
  • In a continued effort to support our local, sustainable food community we introduced our new savoury menu this past summer, featuring as many organic, locally sourced ingredients and artisanal products as we could use, because we wanted everyone to know how amazing our food community is and what it has to offer.

The personal side of LPK’s…

Over the past few weeks, I have burst into tears many times in front of family, friends and staff. I have told the shareholders (all close family and friends), the money they invested in my business because of their belief in me, is gone. I have apologized profusely to my husband (who thankfully, and sometimes to my disbelief, is still my husband) for the upheaval – financial, personal, and emotional – LPK’s and I have caused our family over the past several years.

I have said goodbye to staff, and will be letting suppliers know I am not sure how or when I will be able to pay them. When the time comes, I will have to deal with banks and other lenders, and will have to consider giving up our home of eleven years. And, even though my decision to close LPK’s is now public, I will still have to muster the gumption to keep going until the end of January, and then for several months after, as the business winds down, loose ends are tied up, and (my husband and) I figure out where we will live, and what the future holds for me, and for us as a family.

Through the pain, sadness and even disappointment, I still deeply believe what LPK’s accomplished over the past 4 years was and still is important, and I am thankful for the experience and opportunity I have been granted. Our mission of “Delighting our clients by treating them, our ingredients and our world with love and respect.” was behind every action and choice we made. There were days we were better at it than others, but overall, knowing who and where our foods come from, and nurturing that connection for our clients, is as important today, as it was when we first opened our retail doors 4 years ago.

So what now…?

I do not know what the future holds for LPK’s or for me, but I know the sadness, anger, disappointment, and even the judgment I feel now will dissipate, and change into something better, more productive, and perhaps more far reaching. I know I am loved, and supported, and know others who share my core beliefs. I will lean on their strength and support while I/we figure out what to do next.

For now, LPK’s will continue with business as usual until the end of December, endeavouring to serve you as best we can in the limited amount of time and with the limited resources we have left. We look forward to dazzling you and yours with sweet and savoury delights over the holiday season, by continuing with the Brick Works and Withrow Park farmers’ markets until the end of January, and when the time comes, to say “farewell” by hosting a most deelish open house where we can all say our goodbyes, share hugs, and wish each other well.

Lastly, if any of the above has twinged even the tiniest of heart strings, I ask of you the following:

  • Please consider taking some extra time when it comes to making food choices, by really becoming aware of who and where your food comes from. Just because something is made from “natural” ingredients, what does that actually mean? Is it really better to have something that travelled halfway across the world rather than choosing something which was grown or produced right here in our own back yard?
  • Shop at local, organic farmers’ markets, and get to know who and where your food comes from. There are markets going almost every day throughout Toronto, and they’re virtually one-stop shopping (produce, dairy, bread, baked goods, and even meat). There’s something very empowering about taking an active part in supporting our local food community. Make the connection.
  • Shop with local, artisanal small businesses where, for the most part, food is still prepared and crafted by people, not machines. There is something to be said for the energy and sense of purpose that goes into something created by a human being, instead of a collection of well-oiled, well-timed, computer driven metal and plastic.

For all of the above, and whatever comes next, I thank you.

I believe in…
I am thankful for…

With love and respect,

Lesia

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15 Responses to LPK’s Culinary Groove Closing its Retail Doors December 31st, 2012…!

  1. Pingback: LPK’s Culinary Groove to wind down by the end of the year | torontolife.com

  2. Rachel says:

    My husband came across the news that your store was closing in Toronto Life and told me right away.

    I live in Leslieville, share your beliefs about sustainability and farming, and was in your store at least once at week (and also bought your products at the farmers markets you frequent). I can’t express how sad I am to read your letter. I LOVED your products! I’m not vegan, but avoid gluten and dairy and it was amazing to have access to so many delicious and ethically prepared treats. I was also loving your new savoury foods.

    I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and hope you are able to stay in your home. It breaks my heart that you may need to leave it. Thank you for all you did for my family and the neighbourhood.

    Rachel

    • Lesia says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words and commitment Rachel. I hope more and more people (like you) choose to make informed food choices, and support local, sustainably minded businesses. We can all make such a difference if each of us takes even the tiniest step in the right direction. Thanks again, and hope to see you at the shop before the end of December, and at Brick Works or Withrow before the end of January. Cheers!

      • Enrique says:

        We are stunned! We often visit and puashrce from you at the Brick Works and your retail store we are the ones of who buy 10 nanimo bars at one time. I am so very sorry to see you close. There are not nearly enough food conscious, fair trade, vegan, organic vendors to accommodate the rise of consumers who believe, as you do. I wish there was something more we could do to support you. But here is one thought. My family is having a big bash to celebrate my husband’s life. He has lymphoma and despite expectations is actually doing quite well. We would like to place an order ahead of time for the dessert portion of the party. If that is possible, please email me back and we can sort out the process and timing and cost. The party is Sunday, Dec. 9.Please let me know what you think.Sue

  3. Sue says:

    We are stunned! We often visit and purchase from you at the Brick Works and your retail store – we are the ones of who buy 10 nanimo bars at one time. I am so very sorry to see you close. There are not nearly enough food conscious, fair trade, vegan, organic vendors to accommodate the rise of consumers who believe, as you do. I wish there was something more we could do to support you. But here is one thought. My family is having a big bash to celebrate my husband’s life. He has lymphoma and despite expectations is actually doing quite well. We would like to place an order ahead of time for the dessert portion of the party. If that is possible, please email me back and we can sort out the process and timing and cost. The party is Sunday, Dec. 9.
    Please let me know what you think.
    Sue

    • Holla says:

      Hi Lesia,(This is my second amettpt at writing to you the first time I clicked post and my note disappeared here’s hoping you receive this.)I am saddened to hear that you will be closing your doors. I have enjoyed buying your products at the Brickworks farmers’ market the last few years and wonderful birthday cakes most recently one for my friend’s 60th birthday in October. While I am not privy to the details of your closing I commend you for staying true to your core values, the foundation of what makes LPK so vital. You have always provided quality treats with wholesome ingredients in packaging that is sustainably produced never taking cost-cutting short cuts . You found a community that shared your vision and was willing to support what you do. While you are angry and sad at having to sacrifice your dream (which I so understand), I hope you find a way to trust in the intelligence of the universe. In no way am I trying to impose any ethereal new age wisdom. But this is a piece to a far bigger story. Do what you need to do but also know that nothing stays the same forever and like a phoenix, you too will rise from this disappointment with greater wisdom and new insight to create something bigger and even better. You’re an artist. That’s what artists too. Remember who you are and why you created LPK Culinary Groove. It is a perfect example of what is possible. Don’t lose faith. I am wishing you a happy and healthy 2013 a clean slate and new possibilities.Stacey

  4. Dear Lesia,

    Just read about this on the Toronto Life blog. This is so heartbreaking. Just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you. Take care of yourself and your family. Best wishes.

    • Lesia says:

      Thanks Margaret. I appreciate your taking the time to write. Best wishes to you and yours, and nice to see that Wild Thyme is still around, creating beautiful art with flowers. Cheers!

  5. Stacey Bernstein says:

    Hi Lesia,

    (This is my second attempt at writing to you—the first time I clicked “post” and my note disappeared…here’s hoping you receive this.)

    I am saddened to hear that you will be closing your doors. I have enjoyed buying your products at the Brickworks farmers’ market the last few years and wonderful birthday cakes—most recently one for my friend’s 60th birthday in October. While I am not privy to the details of your closing I commend you for staying true to your core values, the foundation of what makes LPK so vital. You have always provided quality treats with wholesome ingredients in packaging that is sustainably produced—never taking cost-cutting short cuts . You found a community that shared your vision and was willing to support what you do. While you are angry and sad at having to sacrifice your dream (which I so understand), I hope you find a way to trust in the intelligence of the universe. In no way am I trying to impose any ethereal new age wisdom. But this is a piece to a far bigger story. Do what you need to do but also know that nothing stays the same forever and like a phoenix, you too will rise from this disappointment with greater wisdom and new insight to create something bigger and even better. You’re an artist. That’s what artists too. Remember who you are and why you created LPK Culinary Groove. It is a perfect example of what is possible. Don’t lose faith. I am wishing you a happy and healthy 2013…a clean slate and new possibilities.
    Stacey

    • Lesia says:

      Stacey, your words are so kind, so intuitive, and so gracious, thank you. I believe in everything you said, and know the Universe will provide when the time is right (it does all the time, even when it looks otherwise).

      It’s a total roller coaster right now, with us hoping, but not even being sure we’ll be able to keep working until the end of January. Today, in this moment though, business as usual, and we’re thankful for all the sympathy and support that’s being offered.

      Keeping the faith.

      Thank you,
      Lesia

    • Thanks so much Jeremy! This is something I’ve heard many times over the past few years, and hope to exirnpeece some of that European awareness first hand one day soon. It’s also my hope that people here do increase their awareness about who and where our food comes from, and start/continue making better choices now.Hopefully we’ll see you at the Brick Works before the end of January, or even the shop before the end of the month. Please say hello’ if you do.Cheers,Lesia

  6. Jeremy says:

    I am so sorry to hear about this. My children and I often frequented your stall at brickworks. It is sad that someone as awesome as you who clearly cares about quality food can’t be successful.

    I am recently back from a trip to Paris and am depressed at the food choices here in Canada. Seems Canadians and North Americans couldn’t care less about their food. Good luck and I really hope that something good comes out of this for you and your family.

    • Lesia says:

      Thanks so much Jeremy! This is something I’ve heard many times over the past few years, and hope to experience some of that European awareness first hand one day soon. It’s also my hope that people here do increase their awareness about who and where our food comes from, and start/continue making better choices now.

      Hopefully we’ll see you at the Brick Works before the end of January, or even the shop before the end of the month. Please say ‘hello’ if you do.

      Cheers,
      Lesia

      • Emce says:

        My husband came aorscs the news that your store was closing in Toronto Life and told me right away. I live in Leslieville, share your beliefs about sustainability and farming, and was in your store at least once at week (and also bought your products at the farmers markets you frequent). I can’t express how sad I am to read your letter. I LOVED your products! I’m not vegan, but avoid gluten and dairy and it was amazing to have access to so many delicious and ethically prepared treats. I was also loving your new savoury foods. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and hope you are able to stay in your home. It breaks my heart that you may need to leave it. Thank you for all you did for my family and the neighbourhood.Rachel

  7. Elyse Pomeranz says:

    Dear LPK,

    I went onto your website to order a cake for a celebration/ceremony we are planning in February. I was surprised to find your announcement of your closure. I read your blog entry carefully and feel I must reply.

    I believe deeply in the principles , practices and products that you poured yourself into for these last years. Your cakes have been part of several very significant family events/celebrations and I can say without reservation they were truly extraordinary. I will remember them as the best cakes I’ve had !!! I was so happy that such a place existed and was grateful that it was supported by customers in this city.

    I have spent my life creating opportunities for culture and creativity to be transformed and transforming. I have not been financially ” successful” ….there is one thing that I have learned and that is that what we do and have done creates powerful forces and is truly alive in all those who have encountered our deeds.

    Elyse