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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Arrivals & Departures: Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers at 581 Bloor Street West

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on January 9, 2011 at 2:23 AM

Lettieri Espresso Bar closed its doors for good on December 30, 2010

Another one bites the dust . . .

By West Annex News | Coffee Corner, Java Junction, or Corporate Coffee Headquarter; whatever you call the aggregation of coffee shops around Bloor Street West and Albany Avenue, the group suffered its first fatality at the end of 2010 when Lettieri Expresso Bar on the south-west corner of Bathurst and Bloor quietly closed its doors on December 30.  A note posted on the front door reads: “After eight years of making fresh espresso, Lettieri Espresso Bar will be closed on December 30, 2010.  We have loved being a part of this community.  It has been an absolute joy serving you. Wish you all have a very happy new year.”

Good-bye note from Lettieri franchise owner Joe Lee | click to enlarge

Signs already hang in the windows announcing that a Hero Certified Burgers will be moving in to the 581 Bloor Street West space.  The Lettieri website says cryptically that Lettieri is “co-branding with Hero Certified Burgers”.  Lettieri directs readers to the Hero website for further information, but we found no mention there of Lettieri or of co-branding. John Lettieri is the founder of both the Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers franchises.

Honest Ed's signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri

It’s hard to say what lead to the demise of Lettieri. Once inside the shop, it was an attractive, soothing, light-filled space with large east-facing windows looking out on Bathurst Street.  And Lettieri made arguably the best-tasting espresso-based drinks of all the chains located on the West Annex Bloor strip. But tucked in the north-east corner of Honest Ed’s, the garish extravagance of  Ed’s signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri’s; it was easy to forget the coffee shop was even there.

And Bathurst Street still forms a considerable psychological barrier for Annex shoppers. Although the number of non-Korean-themed shops establishing themselves west of Bathurst on the Bloor West strip is increasing, many shoppers still hold on to the notion that Bloor west of Bathurst is a Korean ethnic enclave with little to offer shoppers who do not share that ethnicity.   As we noted in a previous post, the stiff competition with four major coffee chain outlets killed a local tea shop in 2010. With that competition located on the more desirable West Annex side of Bathurst, the few extra steps to cross the street into Koreatown apparently proved a few steps too far for Lettieri’s survival.

Lettieri Espresso Bar was located at the south west corner of Bathurst and Bloor, in Honest Ed’s

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In Arrivals & Departures, we watch the changes in the commercial/retail strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ analysis that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures and store vacancies and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

Visit the Arrivals & Departures archive.

Arrivals & Departures: David’s Tea and Sweet Pete’s Bicycle Shop

In Arrivals & Departures on December 14, 2010 at 11:05 PM

The last week saw two new arrivals on the Bloor-Annex commercial strip, David’s Tea, and Sweet Pete’s Bicycle Shop – the B-Side.

DavidsTea | 424 Bloor Street West

David’s Tea opened December 11th at 424 Bloor Street West, just east of Howland Avenue, in the premises formerly occupied by Alex Cuts (now re-located to the second floor of  386 Bloor Street West). This Canadian chain began as a single store in Montreal in 2008 and has since exploded into 41 locations, the Annex location being the fifth to open in Toronto in under two years.

The upscale store sports a slick, modern interior with halogen lighting throughout.  There is minimal seating — one table at the front and two at the back of the shop — but there is a long bar to stand and try samples of some of the over 120 different loose teas proffered by eager staff.   The tea selection ranges from black, green, and white teas to exotic pu’erh cakes.

The tea bar

Thirty-three of the teas are caffeine-free herbal or rooibos blends.

A tea shop seems a natural addition to java junction, the aggregation of coffee shops clustered around the intersection of Bloor Street West and Albany Avenue. But All Things Tea, an independent tea shop with a similar offering of teas and tea paraphernalia recently pulled the plug on their 476 Bloor Street West shop.  They too offered minimal seating and as a result never attracted the same crowds that flock to the local coffee shops to meet, talk, and surf.   Like All Things Tea, DavidsTea lacks a patio, much-desired in local coffee shop culture.

It will be interesting to see if this successful chain’s business model translates to the Annex.

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Sweet Pete’s Bicycle Shop — the B-Side

Sweet Pete's Bicycle Shop | 517 Bloor Street West

Sweet Pete’s opened on December 8, 2010 at 517 Bloor Street West, in the former premises of The Tap Bar and Grill. In this second Sweet Pete’s location, the shop is making a strong bid to go head-to-head with nearby Curbside Cycle for the city bike/urban commuter bicycle market.  But where Curbside features mostly European bikes from Batavus, Pashley, Biomega and others, Sweet Pete’s focuses on bikes from North American companies like Kona, Trek, and Opus who have of late jumped on the Euro-style commuter bicycle bandwagon.

The interior

The shop interior is sleek and welcoming, with exposed steel beams, bare brick walls, “eco-friendly wood flooring” (according to Sweet Pete’s website) and subtle lighting.  Classic jazz plays on the sound system.

Most welcome is the large workshop in the back, where Sweet Pete’s will offer bike tune-ups and repairs.  Since Curbside stopped providing repairs to all but the bikes they sell, ex-Curbside mechanic Rob Bateman’s Bicycle Co. has been the go-to place for tune-ups and repairs in the neighbourhood.  But in the busy summer months, Bateman is sometimes a victim of his own excellent reputation, and his 29A Barton Avenue shop can get overwhelmed with work.

Mechanics' work area

Sweet Pete’s has thoughtfully left The Tap’s signature sign, a neon beer stein with animated keg tap, intact above their own sign, in a nice tip of the hat to the memory of the long-time Annex institution.

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In Arrivals & Departures we document the changes in the commercial/retails strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ observation that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures, and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

The weekly wrap for November 28, 2010

In This week in the neighbourhood on November 28, 2010 at 12:05 AM

Best Cappuccino in Toronto comes to Bloor. Barbora Simek interviews celebrity barista Sam James about the opening of his second location, Sam James Coffee Pocket, at 688 A Bloor Street West. [blogTO]

Do lattes really make you vote Liberal? Eric Grenier debunks  a correlation between Starbucks and Canadian political affiliations. [Globe and Mail]

Is the Mink Mile even better than ever? Christopher Hume extolls the revitalization of Bloor between Church Street and Avenue Road. [thestar.com]

“The first float was called ‘Rob Ford’ and it passed without any fanfare.” Toronto Mike’s hilariously misanthropic take on Toronto’s 2010 Santa Claus Parade. [Torontomike]

Ford throws Vaughan a bone with AGO appointment. Royson James and David Rider report on the mayor-elect’s attempt to soothe the culture crowd.  [thestar.com]

Gentrification reaches Dupont at Howland. Bert Archer discusses the $250,000 renovation of the former diner at 268 Howland into the upscale Fanny Chadwick’s.  [YongeStreet]

Seven minutes and $10.56 to get from Lula Lounge to Lee’s Palace at 11:00PM. Time, distance and fare estimates for taxi rides in Toronto, and around the world.  [World Taxi Meter]

Cyclists rejoice; bike routes coming to Google Maps. Joe T. celebrates the omniscient information behemoth’s  intention to include bike trails and bike-friendly routes on Map searches for eight Canadian cities. [Biking Toronto]

Lee's Palace | 529 Bloor Street West

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Every Friday, the Weekly Wrap collects articles from around the web about or of interest to residents of the West Annex.