Alternative Grounds, one of the first Toronto cafés to boast an eco-friendly mandate and 100 per cent fair-trade beans, has been pouring lattes on Roncey since 1995—long before modern bistros and organic greengrocers began replacing the strip’s Polish pierogi joints. Earlier this month, owner Linda Burnside closed the shop for good, citing competition from newer spots like Cherry Bomb and Lit Espresso, and a plan to focus full-time on the company’s roasting and wholesale businesses.
Just days earlier, a group of Roncey residents drew taunts and grumbles of NIMBYism when they attended a community meeting to protest the launch of a Tim Hortons franchise at 175 Roncesvalles, in the old Granowska’s space. While some voiced concerns about the fate of the strip’s indie cafés, others seemed more concerned about the blight the corporate logo would impose on the quaint neighbourhood (“I’ll be looking at a Tim Hortons sign for the rest of my life,” bemoaned one woman). Whether Alternative Grounds is merely the first casualty in a mass indie exodus remains to be seen. In the meantime, fans of the café’s house beans can find them at nearby Sunny Joe’s on Sauauren, or purchase them online.