Future Bakery steals the march on Swiss Chalet
but 'free' meal voucher lands in appreciative hands
as Frances heads to city hall to tell mayor Rob Ford
to keep his cutback hands off tenant service finances
By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspectiveproudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

Toronto Major Rob Ford got elected this fall on a promise "to stop the gravy train" at city hall.

Included in this "gravy train" apparently, is the Tenants Defense Fund that helps tenants fight landlords.

With the support of the Tenant Defense Fund, the Federation of Metro Tenants Association is able to provide important services and programs to more than 60,000 Toronto tenants annually.

Including a Tenant Hotline, Outreach team, Tenant Education Project, and Online resources.

Mayor Rob Ford promised that there wouldn't be any service cuts and yet, at the first available opportunity, he and his Budget Committee are doing exactly that.

There was a call to support tenants and show up at City Hall to protest these cuts at the budget consultations.

This was for 6 p.m. Of course I must go and protest the cuts. Parkdale has some of the worst landlords in the City. Tenants need all the help they can get to fight them.

That morning I cleaned out my back pack and came across a voucher for a "free" meal at the Swiss Chalet.

While visiting a friend in Ottawa we did some shopping at Shopper's Drug Mart and they were giving out vouchers for quarter-pound chicken dinner if you spent more than $50.

My friend and I had intended to use it while I was there but never found the time nor the Swiss Chalet.

I decided to save it until my return to Ottawa.

But I then discovered that it expired January 20. That was tomorrow.

Now, I'm no friend of these coupon "gimmicks". In fact I've never used one. I'm fully aware of the purpose and promotion; they con you by providing something "free" that you would never otherwise touch.

But this time, much to my better judgment, I thought I might as well use it, even though that cuisine is not in my diet. I skipped lunch and googled the nearest Swiss Chalet. There were two on Bloor Street.

My mind started concentrating on that chicken as I got on the streetcar and headed up to Bloor Street.

By this time it was 2:30 p.m. and I was more than ready for some nourishment.

As I got to Bloor and Bathurst I looked around for this Swiss Chalet. Couldn't see any. I asked passersby if they knew. The answer was, there used to be one right across the street but I think it's gone.

Since there were supposed to be two in that area I began to walk east. Along my way I came across Future Bakery. Now this is an old time favourite, healthy place I used to frequent. As I passed by my stomach convinced me to forget looking any further for the Swiss Chalet. Stop here before you have a sugar attack. 

What a great meal. Borscht, to start, a healthy salad, veggie cabbage rolls and  a fruit salad.  Total cost $16 dollars.

So much for my "free" Swiss Chalet meal.  But, to compensate, much healther.

But I still had the coupon to deal with.

Fortified with all the great food, I continued along Bloor Street. Once more I inquired about the whereabouts of the nearest Swiss Chalet. The reply, "Just down the street half-a- block." How do you like that?  Right under my nose.

I continued my journey and there it was. I looked around to see if I could see someone who needed a good meal. Lucky me. As I glanced at the subway entrance there was a young man asking for a handout.

When I approached, he asked, "Do you have two dollars?" No, I replied, but are you hungry? I have a meal for you.  He looked at me and I produced the voucher for a quarter-chicken dinner at the Swiss Chalet.

"Wonderful," he said. "There is one just around the corner, but why didn't you use the voucher?"  Because I couldn't find the restaurant, got too hungry, and had to eat elsewhere.

Too bad he said, I got a voucher for Xmas and they're great. Thank you so much.

You're welcome I said. Enjoy.

Now I just had time to get to city hall to protest mayor Rob Ford`s cuts to the Tenants Defense Fund.

Matters of gastronomy aside, I still had to defend my Parkdale.