Tsikinis Montreal Villeray Rubino Holdings predatory landlords Montreal

Photo by Devon Behelak

Predatory landlords in Montreal: Beloved Villeray grocery store under threat

After 42 years, the Tsikinis shop is being turfed out in favour of a rival business co-owned by its new landlords, repeating a process that previously shuttered Fruiterie St-Denis.

Pointing to what he’s calling “a new twist on Shiller-Lavy,” Villeray resident Sebastian Cowan (Arbutus Records, le Système) is raising the alarm about the practices of predatory landlords in Montreal. This time the business under threat is the locally beloved Fruiterie (and charcuterie/fromagerie) Tsikinis, which has stood on the same spot on Jarry E. for 42 years. The building that houses the two Tsikinis storefronts was recently acquired by Holding Rubino, landlords who happen to own shares in the rival small grocery chain Fraîchement bon!

Holding Rubino Tsikinis
A “for lease” notice for the building housing the Tsikinis store, which has been removed from realtor.ca.

“Tsikinis’s lease is up in May 2023 and their rent has more than doubled, forcing them to vacate,” Cowan says. “This is a strategy to drive Tsikinis out of business as Rubino is also a shareholder of Fraîchement bon!, a new grocer that recently opened in another Rubino-owned building across the street. They have already performed this exact dance with their Fraîchement bon! location on Villeray, and the now shuttered Fruiterie St-Denis.”

Predatory landlords in Montreal Holding Rubino Tsikinis
Predatory landlords in Montreal: Beloved Villeray grocery store under threat

Cowan says that recent bad press and community backlash (including the creation of a “Sauvons Tskinis” Facebook group) has moved Rubino to take down the “for lease” notice for the Tsikinis building on realtor.ca and take away a plaque displaying their logo on the front of the Fraîchement bon! building, “showing that they cannot stand behind their actions.” He is encouraging fellow Villeray residents and other Montrealers to continue to “speak out against this disgusting trend of predatory real estate monopolization in Montreal,” suggesting the use of #savetsikinis on social media.

“We can’t allow this kind of takeover, which will destroy the fabric of our community along with local independent owner-operated businesses like Tsikinis.”

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