Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Coffee Shops Along Gerrard Street

There are two new cafes that are set to open up on Gerrard Street East in the next while.  There addresses are not separated by much but due to the jog that results in Upper Gerrard, they are considered being in different neighbourhoods.

The history of upper Gerrard Street is centered around the railway and streetcar tracks.  It used to be a major thoroughway through the area.  Pictures up until the late '60s show a vibrant community including banks, butchers, grocery stores and the like.  That all disappeared for a very long time.  Now the stretch just east of Woodbine and Gerrard is starting to see a glimmer of life, as new cafes, condominiums and other more service oriented businesses start.  It is in this block that a new espresso bar will open up.  Up until early this year, you could get an espresso at the Upper Beach Cafe on your way to work.  However, the cafe is trying to remake itself into a bistro serving lunches and suppers and now opens too late for the morning rush.  The new espresso cafe does not have a name listed yet but you can see the metal lights hanging from the ceiling through the kraft paper barrier.

The second cafe, The Lazy Daisy cafe is opening at Coxwell and Gerrard, at the edge of Little India.  This set of blocks is also seeing a metamorphosis.  It has been for around 30 years, the epicenter of Eastern Asian culture in Toronto but like all ethnic quarters has seen its inhabitants move to the suburbs and only show up for nostalgia.  There is a resurgence of Indian and Pakistani restaurants to replace some of the for rent or lease signs but the newer restaurants are becoming more attuned to area tastes.  In some cases this means a dumbing down of the cuisines while in others it means serving a niche in terms of food tastes.  The first indicator of this movement seems to be BJ Supermarket which is more like a traditional western supermarket in terms of design, signing and organization that happens to carry a lot of groceries from "back home".  There is now a hakka restaurant, an ice cream shop and a refurbished Lahore Tikka House.  Other bits of excitement that fit into the more reflective of the area are the new pet shop, an upcoming fruit market that looks more traditionally western and the upcoming cafe as mentioned.

Does this mean the end of India Bazaar?  I don't think so.  If you go down any evening in the summer, there are many people walking the streets.  Many of them are suburbanites out for an evening of shopping, eating and catching up with old friends.  What this new wave does is to fill in the gaps of morning, midday and the cold winters with local consumers and more importantly local friends and neighbours.  In this new Ford city, it is important to remember lessons from Jane that it is the messy interactions on the street that create vibrant communities rather than the sterile drive from house to work.

Update: The new coffee shop on Upper Gerrard is Bandit Coffee and opened.  See review here.  Review of Lazy Daisy's here.


  1. Check out the social enterprise coffee cafe
    "The Social Gardener" organic and fair trade coffee

  2. I have tried it. Made mention of the coffee shops a while back and can be found here.

    I commend their commitment to community. Thanks.