Longtime Leslieville resident Andris Grinbergs recently passed away at 70 years of age. As the owner and master smoker of Kristapsons, Grinbergs was well-known to many in the neighbourhood where he lived and worked at the Queen East shop for over 25 years.
Grinbergs immigrated to America from Latvia in 1950 where he served in the U.S. Army and worked in real estate before coming to Canada in 1986 to work with his uncle at Kristapsons delicatessen. He learned the craft of smoking salmon and eventually took over the business that continues to thrive today.
Kristapsons has been a Toronto fixture since 1953, and the store is widely regarded as the place to go for the best smoked salmon in the city. The shop uses a cold smoking technique on fresh salmon to produce a subtle flavour and succulent texture.
Its original Leslieville location — the second being on Yonge St. — is hard to miss. Kristapsons is something of a local landmark, easily identified by the big, brightly coloured fish head smoking a pipe atop the blue storefront.
Kristapsons is continuing business as usual. A statement of appreciation taken out by the store in the Globe and Mail reads:
"Family and staff at Kristapsons, Inc. on Queen Street East and Yonge Street wish to thank valued clients for their support and sympathy on the death of Andris Grinbergs, proprietor for over 25 years. Loyal staff and loyal customers have ensured that Kristapsons, Inc. will continue to smoke salmon and serve the community. Rest assured that the business is open as usual and orders are always welcome. Thank you, again, valued customers, from the staff and management at Kristapsons, Inc."