Bar and restaurant ‘symbol of Toronto’s multiculturalism’ proposed to stay despite temporary termination last year
A popular Toronto café is set to become permanent despite having its lease terminated temporarily in November last year.
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CaféTO was the first of its kind in North America to feature a name that represents the many different cultures in Toronto.
Following intense debate on the topic among residents, councillors, staff and the public, a report recommends the city’s executive committee approve a one-year extension of the lease, with the café continuing to operate in its original premises.
The cafeteria-style bar, barista shop and breakfast cafe has been at its current site on Bathurst Street for nearly nine years, after earlier opening a location in York University.
Its name and logo is a painted stylised phoenix swooping over a mermaid, a symbol of Toronto’s multiculturalism, while the motto “Bar and cafÉ speak to the enduring spirit of Toronto and its inclusive, progressive and inclusive values” serves as its website’s slogan.
Last year, the café attracted an unprecedented 18,000 people in one day, when it held an anti-pipeline protest in opposition to Enbridge’s Line 9B.
Jim Wakefield, former CEO of Toronto’s Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, who first suggested CaféTO in 2015, said he was thrilled about the future.
“No one could be happier than me to see this nomination be endorsed,” he said. “It really symbolizes a historic moment of Toronto representing the diversity in diversity in its own uniquely Canadian way.”
Last year, the city’s Heritage committee voted to nominate CaféTO for the National Register of Historic Places.
In the spring, Councillor Mary Fragedakis slammed the decision to “silence” CaféTO while letting a strip club with a history of complaints with police stay open on a residential block nearby.
“It’s a community that should have its voice heard and not be silenced,” she said.
The Rev David Turpin, the pastor at St John’s United Church, located close to the café, said he understood the social push to create the bar as an autonomous entity separate from the church and would respect the possibility of a smaller lease.
But Turpin stressed the café had been long lauded as a symbol of Toronto’s diversity.