Before it was The Arrow Café, 1164 Dundas St. W. was an accountant’s office. But when childhood friends Robin Eley, Owais Rafiq and Eli Bach, who pooled their resources to open the new coffee and ice cream shop, pulled up the carpet, they uncovered a logo on the floor. They traced it back to The Arrow, a newspaper which was printed on the cafe’s premises 60 years ago. Enamoured with this piece of local history, Eley, Rafiq and Bach decided to adopt the insignia and name as their own.
Paying appropriate tribute to the idea of sipping coffee in a former newspaper printing press, Eley curated a small collection of vintage letterheads, printing blocks and trays, which are displayed throughout the cafe. Various woodcuts by Stefan Berg, an artist friend of the owners, hang on the exposed-brick walls, complementing the printing paraphernalia (a book of his work is available for purchase as well). Outside, four vintage wooden chairs line the sidewalk for those who prefer to people-watch as they eat their ice cream.
The Arrow Café is first and foremost an espresso shop, with lattes ($3.75 for a small, $4.75 for a large) and Americanos ($3) made using freshly roasted organic beans from Hockley Valley Coffee Roasters. But in addition to their caffeinated offerings, The Arrow also boasts a freezer full of ice cream (kiddie scoop $2.50, double $3.50, triple $5). The majority of it comes from Mapleton’s Organic, a dairy farm located just outside of Guelph, with flavours like lavender and chocolate. For the more adventurous, there’s buffalo milk ice cream from Monforte Dairy (although the supply of this one is less reliable). The Arrow’s also the first Toronto retailer to sell by-the-scoop coconut milk ice cream from Coconut Bliss, which is dairy-, soy- and gluten-free. Rounding out the treats are freshly baked cookies ($2.25) from Lindsey Bakes, delivered from the Roncesvalles bakery every morning in flavours like ginger molasses and the Kitchen Sink, a cookie studded with everything from potato chips and marshmallows to pretzels and coffee grounds.
The Arrow Café, 1164 Dundas St. W., 647-772-2030, thearrowcafe.com