By ALAN SHACKLETON
Along with a COVID-19 pandemic and a lockdown of small businesses in Toronto, a bakery owner in Leslieville now has to also deal with an investigation by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) because she uses alcohol in some of the cakes she makes.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Lynda Paul, owner of It’s The Icing on the Cake bakery on Queen Street East of the fact she was visited by an AGCO investigator on Thursday, Dec. 17.
The investigator told her someone had made a complaint to the AGCO that the bakery was selling alcohol illegally. Paul said she uses alcohol in items such as a bourbon-peach cheesecake, Khalua brownies and a Cointreau fruitcake.
She has been running the bakery for 16 years in the Leslieville neighbourhood, the last 14 at her current location at 1238 Queen St. E., and this is the first time she has ever been visited by the AGCO regarding the use of alcohol in some of the items made at the store.
“He said they had received a complaint by a person that I was selling alcohol illegally,” Paul told Beach Metro News in an interview on Friday, Dec. 18.
She said she is baffled, frustrated and angered by the incident. “What is the difference between this and a Bailey’s chocolate? I don’t know now.”
Paul said the AGCO said the investigation is now ongoing and she has no idea what the final result be.
She has no idea where the complaint to the AGCO came from, but feels it was a vindictive act towards her and her bakery.
“I realize the inspector is only doing his job because of a complaint, but why would someone make that phone call? It’s really petty, not cool…Who would do this, it’s just ridiculous.”
Paul added it’s one more stress to add to the lockdown of small businesses in Toronto combined with anxious customers trying to get orders filled for Christmas while not being allowed to enter the bakery.
“Everybody says we need to support small business, and this I just don’t need…I’m like every other small business owner and I’ve had to pivot because of everything that’s happening, and I don’t need anymore b.s.,”
Ann McGill, a friend and customer of Paul’s, also shared her anger at the situation in a Facebook post on the night of Dec. 17: “I honestly will never understand people being so malicious. Hopefully the Commission will see this for what it is – a ridiculous complaint,” she wrote.
The AGCO is the provincial agency responsible for regulating the safe and responsible sale and service of beverage alcohol, under the authority of the Liquor Licence Act (LLA).
Businesses that sell “liquor” require a licence under the LLA. However, an exemption to the Act is provided for products “capable of human consumption that contains 0.5 of 1 per cent or less alcohol by volume or 0.4 of 1 per cent or less of alcohol by weight.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated from its original version to add information regarding the Liquor Licence Act.