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Introducing: Smock Café, the new Roncesvalles spot for coffee, kids and crafting

Smock on opening weekend (Image: Yves Freypons)

One day prior to its opening a couple weeks back, a mosaic of pint-sized hand and nose prints adorned the glass front of Smock, Ronvesvalles’ new tot-focused café. “It’s like the kids knew this was going to be a space for them,” says owner Sara Wood. While child-friendly cafés aren’t new to Toronto (Lil’Bean N’ Green, Playful Grounds), Smock takes the concept even further: there’s no charge for kids to play with the toys, but should parents want some downtime to gab and sip espresso, they can ship the kids off to the craft corner, where, for $8, a facilitator will make sure they’re occupied. For those interested in more than a drop-in craft session, Smock is also offering summer courses in things like print-making (for 4- to 7-year-olds) and Campanimation, a chance for 8- to 11-year-olds to make their own short stop-motion films.

The doggy-and-stroller crowd has been swarming the new café like moths to a flame. With a reading nook, loads of toys, decoupage tables, a Lego-covered bulkhead, a craft corner and an apothecary-inspired craft repository complete with a rolling ladder, it’s no surprise that the local kids are drawn to the space. Indeed, even adults are not immune to the sort of unbridled enthusiasm that the sight of a good marble run can bring on. Other details, such as the fantastic mid-century Argentinean sink or the washroom art installations (hanging paper airplanes made from maps, a spiral of origami-paper butterflies bursting from a jar), only heighten the kid-fuelled sense of whimsy.

The marriage of art and food was a natural one for Wood, who comes from a background that marries the two. She studied at the National Ballet School and at George Brown’s theatre program before opening her own catering company, Les Louises, with her sister and best friend. She sold her share of the catering company when she had her daughter, Adelaide, which is around the time she dreamed up Smock. Being the mother of a four-year-old, Wood knows all too well how picky kids can be, which is why the kids menu ($4.50) has a long list of options (carrots, chickpeas, avocado, blueberries) from which kids can decide on their own favourite three. For the adults, Wood is planning on a daily menu that will feature in-season organic options. On their opening weekend they were serving sandwiches with brie and salami, and cheddar sandwiches with a side of roasted pepper and coconut soup ($11 for a combo). Currently, Wood is in the throes of applying for a liquor license; local parents have their fingers crossed.

Smock Café, 287 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-530-0888,

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  • impeachford

    i guess this is the total gentrification of my neighborhood and time to look elsewhere for new digs. with the increasing number of douchy coffee shops for those people who can reproduce, not bother to shave, leave their dogs tied up to trees while having coffee and not realizing that their double wide strollers have to share the sidewalk with the rest of the world…but the charm of what was roncesvalles is becoming tarnished as this neighborhood went from polish to gay/urban professional to whatever it seems to becoming now

    this looks like a great idea and fun for parents and kids alike…

  • Devin

    Having been to Smock’s opening party I was in awe of the detail of design, deliciousness of the food and wonderful programming available. I think this is a wonderful addition to the neighbourhood! It’s such a happy place, and how can anyone hate on happy?! Congratulations.

  • Kirsten

    Going to check it out! Hope they have Gluten Free options..

  • christiny

    Delicious food and a beautiful space! I was born and raised in this neighbourhood and every generation of kids were always embraced. Great place.

  • Lolo

    I went here with my kids at 9:30 one morning. it was packed with yelling kids. i felt like i was at yet another playgroup, and wished i had my coffee at home. at least then i’d only be subjected to my 2 kids yelling and not 35.

  • MakerKids

    We ♥ Roncy. We’re a non-profit workshop space for kids in Roncesvalles.
    We offer hands-on after school programs, open shops for kids, teens and
    adults, workshops, Minecraft programs and birthday parties for adults
    and kids based on 3D printing, electronics, woodworking, programming,
    sewing, crafting and making of all kinds!