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Coffee and Tea


Roncey loses a beloved coffee shop, gains a shiny new Timmies

(Image: Alternative Grounds/Facebook)

(Image: Alternative Grounds/Facebook)

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.

  • Realale44

    Well that just F@#Kn sucks. Condos, Tim Hortons when will it end. So long AG, you were a wonderful place to hang, sip and just be

  • Danno

    Well, thank goodness! This city was painfully short on Tim Horton’s stores.

  • Laura J Jackson

    Yes toronto comes up with variety of design ideas in cafe’s house, bathroom, kitchen. A major kitchen/bathroom/cafe’s house/ should be done in the right order for maximum efficiency.
    People will be more satisfied with photographs you show rather than just telling about your design. And it would be easier for them to take a decision also.
    The trends in
    kitchen interior design in Toronto is something very interesting to know

  • IJ

    Trying to give an honest assessment here, personal, so please do not kill me. AG was a great place to hang out on your day off work or on a weekend, nice people frequented the place, but there were some serious shortcoming in the way way the place was run that may have contributed to its lack of competitiveness in the area and its eventual closure. Firstly the coffee – don’t know if it was the beans roasting, or the brewing process but all the flavours I have ever tried there tasted the same bitter to me. The second cup (no pun intended) was an absolute limit, even throughout a longish stay. Next the bakes – small in size and overpriced, gave up on those quite quickly with all the great competition around. Service – maybe it was the general ‘take-it-easy’ character of the place, which I generally like when I have time, but when you’re on the go and just want a quick cup of java – well – there were situations, when I had to leave a 3-person line-up because with all the chatting and slow movement it was taking for ever to get served in a reasonable time. Cleanliness – at best it was matching the coffee sold there – it was fair (but not trade), and nothing beyond. In fact when my baby grew up to the point of developing interest in the pile of old, dirty and dilapidated toys that were left in some corner close to one of the washrooms for kids to ‘enjoy’ I had to distract him each time we wanted to go out to the patio, so he would not want to play with them.
    All in all – the idea was great, it worked to some degree, especially as an off-beat, unpretentious meeting place for local folks, but it was hardly providing the goods and service that could withstand the competition of other indie or corporate coffee places in the area. Too bad and good luck next time.