The Coffee Time donut-and-coffee shop in my neighbourhood appears to have gone out of business. I've been waiting for this some time, as the stretch of Dupont Street in my neighbourhood slowly but surely gentrifies.
My inner toffee-nosed twit is thrilled with this development. I've always hated that Coffee Time. Open nearly 24 hours a day, it was a magnet for every down-and-outer in a five kilometer radius. I walked past it at least twice a day, and every day the same characters would be seated within, hunched over their paper cups of lousy coffee, reading Renter's News and Employment Today. It reeked of misery and quiet desperation. Sometimes loud desperation, in the form of the portly half-shaven guy who used to loiter outside by the newspaper boxes, trying to strike up conversation with passing women. "Hey gorgeous", "Hey beautiful", "Hey good looking."
I guess, in a way, it's sad. It served a purpose: there are no other coffee shops in the neighbourhood, not that I know of anyway, so until the Tim Horton's express place opened up in the shiny new gas station across the street, there was really nowhere else to get a take-out coffee, and certainly nowhere in the immediate vicinity to sit down and have a cuppa, and watch the world go by.
In 2001, when I first moved to the area, I walked down to Dupont to buy a bottle of wine at the LCBO. The clerk who served me, a grandfatherly sort, made conversation as he rang up my purchase: "You're new - I've never seen you before."
"Oh, I just moved here today," I replied.
"Willowdale - Yonge and Sheppard," I said.
He whistled. "It's nice up there. What are you doing down here in the ghetto?" It was hardly a ghetto, but with its garish Coffee Time, abandoned Red Raven restaurant, cut-rate patio furniture place (it had been a Loblaws grocery store), decrepit laundromat, and seedy-looking hamburger joint, Dupont at Davenport was a far cry from the increasingly yuppified and be-condoed suburb I had just left.
However, within months, strange things were afoot in DuDav. In 2001, pastry chef Jenn Stone opened J.S. Bonbons, a designer chocolaterie - she even gives chocolate-making classes. In 2002, the patio-furniture place was torn down and a new, enormous LCBO store was built in its place. The former LCBO store, after standing vacant for well over a year, now houses an upscale furniture shop. The Red Raven was vacant for nearly two years before the Pour House opened its doors. A piano sale/repair store opened next door to J.S. Bonbons last fall: the owners are given to artfully displaying deconstructed pianos in the front window.
And now, Coffee Time has finally given up the ghost. It's the end of an era on Dupont between St. George and Davenport. You read it here first, folks.