In 1971, the culinary journey began for the Pickle Barrel, an 85-seat Jewish deli located on Leslie Street in North York. Its humble roots aimed at offering high-quality deli fare at affordable prices, and from this modest start, the Pickle Barrel blossomed into a household name, with multiple locations across the GTA. Unfortunately, this original location recently closed its doors, marking the end of an era.
A sign posted on the door of the Pickle Barrel on Leslie Street conveys a heartfelt message:: “…The time has come for the Pickle Barrel on Leslie Street to close its doors after almost 60 years of serving you. We would like to thank each of you for your patronage and friendship over the last five decades, welcoming our team into your community and into your lives.”
Maintaining a consistent style across its locations, the Pickle Barrel is recognized for its expansive, vibrant leather booths, hanging blown glass lights, and chic décor. Presently, the Pickle Barrel has a footprint in seven locations across Ontario, including London, Waterloo, Bramalea and three GTA locations, including one at Yorkdale.
In 2017, CARA acquired Pickle Barrel, subsequently renamed Recipe Unlimited in 2018. The company oversee additional brands including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, and The Keg
Over time, the menu underwent significant changes, expanding to include over 300 items spanning various cuisines and preparations. While the classic deli sandwiches remained bestsellers, the menu diversified to include colossal burgers with lavish toppings like applewood smoked bacon, caramelized mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. Toronto nutritionist and bestselling cookbook author Rose Reisman contributed a menu of healthy options, featuring dishes such as Spanish paella and maple nut salmon.
This is yet another closure in recent years for the Pickle Barrel chain. In 2020, the Downtown Toronto location in The Atrium on Bay closed its doors after a four-decade run, citing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, a decline in downtown foot traffic and the lack of an outdoor dining patio. Adding to this, in September 2022, the Pickle Barrel at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke permanently closed its doors.