Taylor’s Bakery on Queen Street will soon be home to the newest big name franchise in the historic district — Dairy Queen.
The change has been in the works for some time.
The bakery, which has operated since the 1970s, has been outcompeted by big brand companies such as Starbucks and COWS which have opened on Queen Street in recent years, bakery owner Tom Stavropoulos told the town’s municipal heritage committee last fall.
During the meeting, on Sept. 14, 2021, committee member Phillip Hoad voiced his frustration with the increased number of big brand companies on Queen Street and his disappointment that Taylor’s would become one.
“I am so fed up with these mega-corporations and franchises taking over main street Ontario,” Hoad said after telling Stavropoulos he was disappointed with a lack of effort to make the Dairy Queen visage blend in with the Old Town.
But Stavropoulos said he would not be converting his business if it was still viable in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“Taylor’s Bakery was an ice cream store since 1973,” Stavropoulos said in response to Hoad’s comments.
“I would love to have kept that store. It’s been operating for 50 years,” he said.
“But you know what? When you let in COWS in an inappropriate building … and you open up four other gelato places and three other bakeries on the street in illegal zones, well, guess what happens to Taylor’s Bakery? We can’t compete anymore and I’m forced to change.”
“I can’t compete. I couldn’t even make ends meet. Everybody was eating away through all my business.”
“You let Balzac's (and) Starbucks in — there goes my coffee business. You’ve got COWS and four gelato places— there goes my ice cream business.”
“And now with Budapest Bakery and Fritters on the Lake and on and on, I’m forced to change. My business dropped 75 per cent and that was going into COVID. It’s not even operable anymore. So, I’ve had to make changes. This is just my chance to survive.”
Hoad responded, “I sympathize totally with you, Tom, and I’m right on board with you. It’s very sad and I’m sorry to see another (independent business) go.”
He apologized to Stavropoulos for directing his frustrations towards him regarding the invasion of major franchises on the main streets of Ontario’s small town.
He said he questions what such franchises bring to NOTL and that it seems they are only interested in “their business, their name and their logo. That’s all I see now on Main Street, Ontario and it’s sad.”
“All I really see on this building is another bloody franchise — Dairy Queen,” Hoad said in reference to the preliminary drawings.
“I’m just a little bit frustrated with some of the stuff that goes on downtown Niagara. I know it’s a heritage district but I just don’t see us paying any respect or taking the time to really think about what we’re doing.”
“I’m not in a position to be able to change things. It’s going to be up to the councillors and the politicians of Niagara-on-the-Lake. But we have got to stop this. This is just way, way too much,” Hoad said.
Stavropoulos, Hoad and Dairy Queen were unavailable for further comment.
It's not known when the Dairy Queen franchise will open.