Toronto coffee business asks city for neighbourhood cafe in old building

Under the plan, first presented in May, staff would hold a series of meetings to talk to neighbours about possible changes

Staff are recommending that a Toronto neighbourhood get their own neighbourhood cafe after a coffee entrepreneur put forward the idea earlier this year.

CafeTO’s Joe Vangor, 31, told the Guardian that the proposal is going to council on Tuesday as a “table model”. His vision is for 30 coffee stands around the city, each the size of a four-bedroom townhouse.

He has also asked the city to approve the purchase of the 200 sq m (2,900 sq ft) building at 319 Finch Ave West for $2.3m (£1.6m). A spokesperson for Toronto city hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CaféTO sets out the idea of a neighbourhood cafe in its plan. Photograph: Joe Vangor/Facebook

“My hope is that we have a centre of learning that connects the city to the community. This idea is not about coffee, it’s about education,” Vangor said. “It would be a place where people can take a pause from whatever they’re doing, they can bring their family, they can come together, but also learn different skills from the community.”

Vangor was inspired by the new Goldeneye game set in Hong Kong, because of the zone of privacy it provided. “In the game, if you were out of Hong Kong, you couldn’t go into your own suite. Even if you were in Hong Kong, you couldn’t go back to your own suite because all the doors and windows were closed, and so you could have up to 12 people on the floor above. It doesn’t look too comfortable,” he said.

CaféTO thinks that future cafés could be a safe haven for caregivers, empty nesters, students, hipsters and hipsters alone.

Joe Vangor is a goldsmith and supporter of #NotInOurCity, a group attempting to find new uses for empty public space. Photograph: Vangor

Vangor and his brother, who are also planning to build on their restaurant and pub in the Ballard neighbourhood, left their accounting jobs in order to devote themselves to CafÉ, which they launched as a pilot project in February.

Vangor’s vision has two possible roofs: One roof is the one inside a fast-food restaurant: the building is in Toronto’s food desert. The other roof is roof above a building designed by Christopher Kluger, which has been available for rent for $950,000 a year.

The document proposes that prices for beverages and food at CafÉ range from five dollars a cup to five dollars a seat. There would be new bookcases for books, tables where a carer could take time off, and toilets that flush with a button, instead of out of sight.

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