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Moe Pancer's Reno

Okay so I have a bbbaaggg log of recent food related activities to catch up on (including one last carte blance at Yours Truly with Jeff still at the helm!) so I don't know why I am starting with this but...

What happened to Moe Pancers?? I dropped my mom off at the airport at 8 am Friday morning, only to discover that it was closed for what looked like some renovations!

Anyone know what's going on?

And to my dismay, Dr. Laffa is still closed :(

I know, I have been going on a real Bagel Alley Bender (BAB). Cannot explain why.

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  1. Dr. Laffa is still closed because Passover doesn't end until sundown tonight (Apr/2). Truth be told, I am done with the Bathurst & Wilson Pancers. I've been eating there for about 15 years, and ever since Lorne sold, the quality has been declining. The last time I was there, about 6 months ago, the meat was way too salty. Don't get me wrong, I know that I'm not going into a deli for a low-sodium meal, but the saltiness dominated everything. I'm hoping that Ben & Izzy's are up to the challenge of good Kosher deli.

    1. Agree with Ubervache that since Lorne Pancer sold, the quality went down (they stopped smoking their own meat) and the prices went through the roof. I live about 2 min. from here and was a regular for many years when Mr. Pancer ran it, but things have definitely changed for this neighbourhood staple. There is never anyone in there now - it used to be packed. I'd love to see this strip mall taken down. Its been an eyesore for years with garbage everywhere and owners that don't care. - but that's a whole other topic. If Ben and Izzy EVER opens, and its good, this place could be history.

      2 Replies
      1. re: barneyvernon

        When I heard that the new owners planned to put in TVs upon taking ownership, I knew that was a red alert. Haven't been back since the ownership change, with no plans to go.


        1. re: barneyvernon

          I'm not sure if you're aware -- they do actually make the pastrami and corned beef in house, but not the smoked meat. I had actually ordered the smoked meat on my recent visit, not realizing, and the surly waitress shook her head disapprovingly. I asked her if I had ordered poorly, and she told me about what they make there vs. what they buy prepared. It's very, very odd that they don't indicate this on the menu.

          And the pastrami was quite good -- a little tough, but otherwise above average.

        2. I hope Pancers doesn't close. It fills a big void in the area, especially since Coleman's closed (which I liked for some reason....). Ben and Izzy's looks good but there is something to be said for the traditional dingy deli.

          8 Replies
          1. re: MeMeMe

            Another dingy deli in the area is Wolfie's on Sheppard west of Bathurst. Can't say I've been there in the last 10 years but from what I remember it wasn't awful.

            And for the record I haven't been to Pancer's since the ownership change. I go to the new spot up at Dufferin and Major Mack.

            1. re: jeremyh1

              How is the new spot. We almost went there a couple weeks ago but continued on into the Bridge to an Italian Bakery.


              1. re: Davwud

                New spot is good. Same food as pre-sale Moe Pancers. Same waitress even. The location is in a new strip plaza and the restaurant has somewhat of a warehouse feel to it. But you don't go there for fine dining you go for awesome deli and they have it up there on Dufferin.

              2. re: jeremyh1

                What about Yitz's? I know I've eaten there once, a long time ago, but I can't remember anything about my meal. I do know that Katz's on Dufferin is to be avoided at all costs though. Has anyone eaten at Jody's (http://jodysdeli.ca/)? They have two locations in the East end and I just haven't had a chance to check them out.

                1. re: Ubervache

                  I still love Yitz's.

                  Corned beef. A little fatty. Heaven. Yummy baked treats and prepared goods too!

                  1. re: Ubervache

                    I tried Jody's down by Greenwood and thought it was fine. It didn't WOW me but I enjoyed my sandwich none the less.


                2. re: MeMeMe

                  Wait so, what's this Ben & Izzy's everyone keeps talking about??

                3. As barneyvernon has attested, the crummy little strip plaza where Moe Pancer's is housed is indeed an eyesore. Trash-strewn. Tight parking in front. Expect to be dinged. The rear parking lot is also trashy, chaotic, often blocked, problematic. Which may be part of the reason I haven't been there in more than a year, though I was a regular for 30-35 years before the change in ownership. It's kinda depressing to drive by it nowadays, in a plaza that takes the word "dingy" to a whole new level. I suppose I miss the ebullient atmosphere of the place when there was always a Pancer on the premises: Moe, then Stan, then Lorne, with Wilf cutting the meat. Atmosphere is important to a deli. In my view, it even makes the food taste better. Certainly, the guy in charge of the place immediately after the change in ownership was - how to put it? - not particularly charming. A few visits under the deadening sway of the new regime turned me off. And I won't be back till someone I know who knows deli food tells me the nosh is as good as ever. Good deli nosh forgives everything. I'm doubtful about Moe Pancer's renaissance, though I hope the place manages to reinvent itself. It's just a 10-minute drive from my humble abode, and central Toronto needs a good deli (note: the bleak Katz's, on Dufferin south of the 401, isn't it). Perhaps the still-unborn Ben and Izzy's, just south of Moe Pancer's on Bathurst St., will actually open, as promised these many moons, but....well, we shall see. In the meantime, I must make do with occasional forays south to Caplansky's or north to Centre Street Deli. The newish northern outpost of Pancer's Deli, up in the back country of Dufferin and Major Mac, is too damn far to go for a pastrami sandwich. (I've heard that Lorne is no longer involved in that joint either, though I don't know that for sure.)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: juno

                    That Pancer's out in the "Back country" is probably only an extra 5 minutes from CSD.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      As Davwud points out, it is only a short drive further north from Centre Street Deli to Pancer's (newish) Deli at Dufferin and Major Mac, but a guy has to to draw a line in the sand somewhere. By the time I've shlepped from York Mills and Yonge St. north to Centre Street, a tortuous 30-45-minute drive, and found a parking spot in that jammed Centre Street Deli lot (not always a given), I have no wish to travel a minute more. So Dufferin and Major Mac remains back country to me, though probably not to someone in Aurora. I'm always astounded at Davwud's assiduous ability to get from his north-of-Toronto lodgings to here, there and everywhere around Toronto and environs, in search of decent nosh. A true over-the-top Chowhound. I usually tend to poop out after about 20 minutes on the road.

                      1. re: juno

                        But, but that extra 5 minutes!!!

                        I hear ya but I'd bet it's worth a try once. You may save time in the parking lot. I used to work across the street and that lot was always only ever half full.

                        Perhaps we can hook up there sometime. I'll bring Mrs. Sippi along. She loves her some good deli.


                        1. re: juno

                          I've never seen the CSD lot jammed.

                          I usually go on a Sunday, after the lunch rush - around 2 pm or so. Sometimes earlier.

                          Parking is never an issue then. Lot is dead.

                          1. re: magic

                            "I've never seen the CSD lot jammed.

                            I usually go on a Sunday, after the lunch rush - around 2 pm or so."

                            no kidding

                            1. re: disgusti

                              My point is that juno might want to try this time to avoid a busy lot.

                    2. They were probably just closed for Passover which ended April 2

                      1. I am coming to Toronto next weekend. Any word on Pancer's reopen date. I am not sure I want to deal with the potential grand opening crowds at Ben & Izzy's (if they are open by May). If neither are open I will choose between the new Pancer's or take the Monday opportunity to finally try Switzer's on Tobram Rd. Does anyone know if Lorne Pancer is really out of the Major Mac Pancer's & if so, is he going to start a new store?

                        Also any of you deli fan's tried out Nu Bagel? Should I make the stop or stick with Gryfe's (or do both)?

                        Keep up the great work on this GTA board!

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: sspector

                          If you try Gryfe's be careful of their hours. I know they do open but it's never been open when I drive by. Call ahead maybe, they sell out.

                          Can also get warm, fresh Gryfe's at Sunrise Foods on Sheppard, just west of Bathurst. Gryfe's can actually be found at quite a few places around town including Nortown, Dave Young, Fresh Harvest, Kitchen Table, and more (probably Pusateri's too).

                          Also, you should go to Centre St. Deli for smoked meat.

                          1. re: magic

                            You can also get Gryfe's bagels a Daiter's Creamery which is 2 blocks north of Gryfe's bakery.

                          2. re: sspector

                            Can't answer your questions on Pancers, and I haven't tried Nu Bagel yet, but nothing beats a Gryfe's Bagel...nothing!!

                            1. re: kwass

                              Gryfe's has its detractors, but to me they are glorious.

                              1. re: magic

                                I feel the same way :) I don't eat them that often, but when I do, they're such a treat!!

                                1. re: magic

                                  My mom used to work for a Jewish woman and would bring home Gryfe's bagels all the time. They were amazing.

                                  Haven't had them in 20 years so can't comment on quality now.


                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    They're friggin' amazing dude.

                                    If you don't care for their style, that's one thing.

                                    But in terms of quality they are the exact same as they were 20 years ago. Or so I think.

                                      1. re: kwass

                                        +1...their pizza "bagels" are pretty good too.

                            2. I have been going to Gryfe's every visit for many years & they always have products available. The packaged Pizza bagels and danish are also very good. I always also go to the kosher bakery down the street on the same side - Grodzyski's. They have great bread & rolls.

                              I find Centre St a bit overrated. I hope to drive up to Montral for Shwartz's, Main & Smoked Meat Petes this Summer. I feel Centre St has been slipping over the past 10 years & is not nearly as good as Snowden Deli despite the relationship. I still have not had s great hand sliced smoked meat in T.O. I have high hopes for Ben & Izzy's but we have been down this road before. Maybe I should hit them up this visit before success goes to their head like some highly touted places downtown that never really lived up to their publicity and have trended downward ever since.

                              I have been visiting GTA often for over 45 years and fear that the locals don't see the the possibility of the loss of their deli/jewish food scene. I have watched it disappear in the face of modern eating trends all over the USA (even the metro NYC area). I know that David Sax was a leading voice to alert Canada to save the deli, but his voice is not to be found since his publishing success. There is legit concern among the faithful around NYC and other parts of the US where the exile still has some economies of scale to support this tradition. I am not certain that T.O. is even close to their potential. I love Canada!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: sspector

                                I don't think you're going to have to worry about success going to Ben and Izzy's head. They seem like really nice, humble guys.

                                1. re: kwass

                                  Well, the owner of the highly touted downtown deli that will remain nameless always seemed like a nice guy, and he's perfectly content to serve what I'm sure he's aware is a sub-par product, so you never know.

                                  1. re: Michael N

                                    Do you really think he believes his product is sub-par? I don't. I think he believes in the quality of his product.

                                2. re: sspector

                                  Too bad about your Centre St. Deli experiences as of late. I still go and love it. No quality dip for me whatsoever.

                                  For corned beef, my go-to is Yitz's, not Pancers. I like mine fatty or "juicy" for the most part (sometimes medium-fatty).

                                  True about David Sax. I haven't really heard much since his richly deserved James Beard award. Thought that was just me, that maybe I'd been missing something.

                                  1. re: magic

                                    He was featured on The Layover: Toronto but not for deli. He took Tony to Kensington Mkt.


                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Oh that's pretty cool. Did not know that...

                                3. If anyone happens to be driving up or down Bathurst passing by Pancer's, please post if they are open or still closed for renovations.

                                  I will be in GTA a week from today.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: sspector

                                    I walked by today at 8:00 a.m. -before they open at 9. It certainly does not look like there were any renovations done of any kind, and I suspect that the photo of the ladder was probably because they were changing a lightbulb or some other very small maintenance issue. It looks to me that they are open as usual. There's no additional signs in the window (stating they are closed, or whatever).

                                    1. re: barneyvernon

                                      Hmm, that is interesting. So, when I took those pictures during passover - not sure if you can actually tell in the ladder one - there was actually NO other furniture in the place, other than that ladder.

                                      All those tiles you see on the floor, you normally would not be able to see for all of the furniture on top of it. So I think it was something slightly more than just a simple lightbulb change but a full-on reno.

                                      Maybe they just wanted to polish their floors while they thought they would have no business or something. Who knows. Guess we could ask, now that they seem to be open again.

                                    2. re: sspector

                                      Why don't you call them? Here's the #: (905) 417-1719

                                    3. Memo to sspector: I drove by Moe Pancer's, on Bathurst St., this evening about 8 p.m., and it sure looked open to me. And a friend of mine, a Pancers regular, told me the other night that he'd had a pastrami sandwich there recently, and he thought it was a first-rate nosh. Just like it was in the days when an actual Pancer was running it. All of which encourages me to give it another shot shortly, despite that crummy plaza it's situated in.