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    In Toronto's latest edition of strange joint ventures, a phone accessory store-meets-mini waffle counter has formed to bring you the hottest collab of the summer. 

    A new business called Grandmama's Waffles has just moved into the front area of Abby's Convenience + Wireless Club at 764 Queen St. West, meaning you can now get iPhone chargers and latenight ube waffles at the same time. 

    grandmamas waffles torontoIt's the union you never knew you needed. Operating simultaneously from noon until well into the evening every day except Monday, Grandmama's and Abby's have a symbiotic relationship.

    grandmamas waffles torontoGrandmama's claims prime real estate with the storefront window, where owner Rhuland Proudfoot entices customers into the shop with displays of dairy-free ube, pandan, and sesame waffles, along with the wafting scent of drippy beer batter. grandmamas waffles torontoMeanwhile, the owner of Abby's (who goes by Noor) sells his less attractive wares in the back. When Noor closes his shop at 9 p.m., Rhuland partly takes over shopkeeper duties by selling a small stock of chargers and other necessities until he closes a few hours later.  

    grandmamas waffles torontoAccording to Proudfoot, he pitched the idea to around 30 businesses before finally landing this deal with Abby's, which will hopefully continue until next year, at least. 

    grandmamas waffles torontoSo far, the partnership seems to be working. Just steps from Queen and Bathurst, Grandmama's looks like its poised to be a fun go-to in an area that's surprisingly limited in latenight snack options. 

    grandmamas waffles torontoBorne from his loves of iron-grilled waffles, his granny, and basketball player Larry Johnson (who once dressed up like an old lady for a Converse commercial) Proudfoot's menu for Grandmama's is simple.

    grandmamas waffles torontoThere's two types of waffles here: colourful ones made with coconut cream ($5), or plainer looking waffles made with a mixture of alcohol-free beer batter, soy milk, and a variety of extra ingredients inside like chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, pink praline ($4.25 to $5).
    grandmamas waffles torontoThe coconut cream pandan and ube options are both vegan and gluten-free, and there are bound to be specialty menu items popping up offering new beer batter waffle options like Caribbean-inspired carrot and mango or Nanaimo bar. 

    grandmamas waffles torontoFluffy, natural-tasting, and not too sweet, these waffles are definitely devourable.

    grandmama's waffles torontoAnd the best part is being able to devour them outside on the array of stools outside the shop, Asian street market-style. 
    grandmamas waffles torontoFun fact: if you tag your grandma eating a Grandmama's waffle on IG, she may be eligible to become the store's Grandma Of The Month, which will warrant your granny a sign of honour in the shop window and some basketball stats playing cards to match. 
    grandmamas waffles toronto


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    The best vegan bakeries in Toronto are where to go if you’ve got a sweet tooth with a conscience or dairy allergy. The cinnamon buns, cupcakes, cookies and much more at these local bakeries are made without the usual animal products of milk, eggs and butter that are the cornerstone of desserts, but somehow taste just as good as if they were.

    Here are the best vegan bakeries in Toronto.

    3 - Bunner's Bake Shop (Kensington Market)

    Locations in the Junction and Kensington do some of the best vegan muffins, whoopie pies, birthday cakes and cupcakes in the city with flavours like Lemon Lemon and Cookies and Cream.
    8 - Bloomer's

    This Bloorcourt vegan bakery does scrumptious mini loaves, cakes, donuts and bagels. They’re also licensed so you can enjoy a cider with your treat.
    4 - Apiecalypse Now! (Pape)

    Unapologetically vegan yet indulgent donuts, miniature "baby cakes" and ingredients to make your own wondrous vegan desserts can be found in the fridges of this pizza joint with locations near Christie Pits as well as in Pape Village.
    11 - Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co.

    This Bloordale bakery does some of the biggest, stickiest vegan donuts in the city, as well as amazing chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and spicy pizza rolls.
    9 - Kensington Natural Bakery and Cafe

    This all natural bakery in the Annex has spelt and gluten-free options, doing vegan raisin buns, pumpkin pies, cookies and birthday cakes way cheaper than most places.
    10 - The Butternut Baking Co.

    Not everything at this Junction bakery is necessarily vegan but everything in here is all natural and 100% cute.
    7 - Almond Butterfly

    100% gluten free, vegan options like thick and chunky breakfast cookies and colourful cupcakes at this Harbord St. bakery are craved by plant eaters in this city.
    5 - Sorelle and Co. (Yorkville)

    The prettiest of all vegan desserts in Toronto can be found at this shop with a central location in Yorkville where towering pastel cakes and intricate donuts and cupcakes can be procured.
    6 - Tori's Bakeshop (Canary District)

    The vegan cinnamon buns at this popular shop with locations in the Beaches and Canary District are some of the most adored in the city. They also do the flakiest veganized croissants and even cruffins.

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    Hello and welcome to Labour Day 2018 in Toronto where events include cracking a brew, eating some barbecue, hitting up a music festival but definitely not getting ready to go back to school/work. Whatever you do, enjoy the last day of summer!

    Events you might want to check out:

    Brewer’s Backyard (September 3 @ Evergreen Brick Works)
    Raise a glass to the summer and celebrate another season come to pass at this big beer party featuring local brewing and a ton of food trucks on-site.
    The V Daddy Show (September 3 @ Comedy Bar)
    Catch a comedy show on this fine holiday Monday with a bunch of Toronto funny people, including Rebecca Reeds and Angst for the Memories.
    Monolord (September 3 @ The Garrison)
    Mondays are for Swedish doom metal, and Monolord is here with their gnarly brand of rumbling rock alongside The Death Wheelers and LOW ORBIT.
    Free Community Skate at Maple Leaf Gardens (September 3 @ Mattamy Athletic Centre)
    Get a jump on winter and practice your moves early during this free community skate inside the historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
    CNE (August 17 - September 3 @ Exhibition Place)
    After a tumultuous season of labour disputes, the CNE wraps up with a final day of butter sculptures, air shows, $100 gold burgers and the like.
    BuskerFest (August 31 - September 3 @ Woodbine Park)
    Mimes, acrobats, fire jugglers and clowns are all set to hang it up after today, but there's still time to see them and eat some Mac 'n' cheese.
    Toronto Rib, Bacon and BBQ Fest (August 31 - September 3 @ Downsview Park)
    One more day of ribs, bacon and barbecue is on at this big cookout featuring live music, a kids zone and even more food trucks.
    Hispanic Fiesta (August 31 - September 3 @ Mel Lastman Square)
    It's the last day to celebrate all things Latin American at this big festival featuring traditional food from twenty different Spanish speaking countries.
    Artfest (August 31 - September 3 @ The Distillery Historic District)
    Maybe a stroll through a huge art market is just what you needed. Check out artists from all over Canada as they arrive to show off their various works.
    Electric Island (September 2-3 @ Hanlan's Point)
    A season of drops comes to an end today but not before Justin Martin, Nicole Moudaber, Line 8, Gera and more hit the decks one last time.

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    What's open on Labour Day 2018 in Toronto will help you sort out the final long weekend of summer. Whether you need to do some last minute shopping, want to hit up an amusement park or are looking to pick up some brews, let this be your guide on September 3.

    Here's what's open and closed on Labour Day in Toronto.

    General
     
    Closed
    • Government offices
    • Banks
    • Libraries
    • Post offices
    Open
    • The TTC will operate on a holiday schedule.

    open labour day toronto

    Last minute grocery shopping will be a breeze on Labour Day with many stores still open. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Food
     
    Closed
    • It's worth calling ahead to restaurants before heading out — many already consider Mondays a day off.
    • Most major grocery chains will be closed on Labour Day with a few confirmed exceptions listed below.
    Open

    open labour day toronto

    Indie bottle shops across the city will be open for all of your beer purchasing needs. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Drink
     
    Closed
    • LCBO
    • The Beer Store
    Open
    • For a complete list of independent bottle shops in Toronto, see this directory. Holiday hours are provided where applicable, but we advise calling ahead to confirm.

    open labour day toronto

    Promenade will be just one of the many malls open on September 3. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Malls
     
    Closed
    • Bayview Village Shops
    • CF Fairview Mall
    • CF Sherway Gardens
    • Dufferin Mall
    • Scarborough Town Centre
    • Yorkdale Shopping Centre
    Open

    open labour day toronto

    Labour Day is your final chance to check out The Ex. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Attractions
     
    Open

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    Toronto's Christmas Market is coming back, and bringing with it all the vendors, food, drinks, and activities the city loves. 

    Centred around a giant Christmas tree, the market will once again find its home in the Distillery District starting November 15, and running through December 23 for the last-minute shoppers among us. 

    The Christmas Market will be open every day of the week except Monday. Hours will vary by day so be sure to check when to head over. 

    The list of vendors and performance schedule has not yet been released but daily features will include sing-alongs, Christmas carolers and plenty of food and drink.


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    I know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing. Usually. But in the case of one publicly installed phone that keeps mysteriously ringing in Toronto, pretty much no one knows what the heck it means.

    Those often walking near Bloor and Dufferin may have noticed some odd things in the window of 1200 Bloor St. on occasion. Say, plastic butts lined up in a row.

    1200 bloor west toronto

    Plastic butts and a phone are two of the oddities at 1200 Bloor. St. West.

    But lately, the eccentricities have been spilling out of the storefront window and into the street. Local Rob Kettridge apparently installed the phone outside one day after finding a rotary phone in his friend’s basement.

    “Rigged it up, and now it rings on Bloor Street,” he told CityNews. The phone can’t make calls, only receive them. If you call the number scrawled on the side (647.483.6060) the phone sounds its old school ring out on Bloor, but there’s no guarantee anyone will pick up.

    phone toronto

    Call the number on the phone and see what happens.

    However, apparently the first call Kettridge received on the phone was from Australia, so if the phone rings and you’re around to hear it, you should probably pick up. You never know who might be on the other end of the line.

    The installation of the phone calls to mind Toronto’s penchant for the pay phone, serendipitously connects strangers and reminds us there was a time when a telephone was something that was attached to the wall and made a ringing sound.


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    Once upon a time, Toronto offered up a unique life experience for young people called Adventure Playground, the likes of which could never happen again. Perhaps you're old enough to remember it or know someone who told tales about how amazing it was?

    From 1974 until the mid-1980s, Adventure Playground (located at the foot of Bathurst Street on the grounds of Harbourfront) allowed children to build amazing structures restricted only by their own imagination.

    adventure playground toronto

    Used tires, plywood, cans of paint — just some of the things on offer on at Adventure Playground.

    They were given hammers, nails, saws, assorted tools, metal shovels, and unlimited amounts of lumber to go hog-wild constructing buildings, bridges, forts, houses, dog houses, and whatever else they desired.

    There was a garden, a fire-pit, and a water supply. It was a mini-civilization, a shanty town on Bathurst — devised, designed, constructed and lorded over by kids.

    For children under six, there was a sister site called the Creative Playground which featured large building blocks, painting stations, costumes and crafts.

    creative playground toronto

    The Creative Playground wasn't quite as wild as its sibling, but it still offered a unique experience for kids under six.

    So-called “Adventure Playgrounds” had been all the rage in Europe, dating back to the 1940s when Danish landscape designer C. Th. Sorensen envisioned and popularized a “junk playground in which children could create, shape, and dream and imagine a reality.”

    In 1974 upon the opening of Harbourfront, a professor of landscape design from the University of Toronto named Bill Rock had pitched the concept of a “Junk Playground” to be created at the bottom of Bathurst Street.

    Michael Moffat, one of Rock’s students, took on the project and navigated it through completion, even starting a non-profit organization (“Adventure Education Concept”) to keep it properly staffed and funded.

    Although the project was guided by a healthy dose of 1960s idealism, there was the very real challenge of maintaining law and order in a situation that might quickly dissolve into Lord of the Flies with shovels and hammers.

    Children were supervised, and their buildings were inspected regularly for safety codes (no doubt liberally applied).

    adventure playground toronto

    Those who visited Adventure Playground will remember how amazing some of the self-built structures were.

    Guests of Adventure Playground were easily split into two tribes – the regulars, kids who lived nearby and attended the playground daily, and the visitors, usually school groups, Harbourfront day campers or daycare wards.

    As you might imagine, tension often arose when the visitors interfered with anything created by the regulars (whose work usually included “KEEP OUT - REGULARS ONLY!” signage).

    Most children who spent time at the Park recall the basic survival skills they learned, all the more amazing in an urban setting. Sure, there were fights, hurt feelings, cuts, and bruises but these were off-set by a strong feeling of independence and accomplishment. At the end of each summer, structures were judged and awards were doled out.

    Imagining such a place in today’s litigious and overprotective climate is simply beyond belief. While injuries were no doubt commonplace, they were accepted as part of the experience, just like rope burns or skinned knees at Ontario Place’s Children’s Village.

    In the early 1980s, the Playground was forced to move from Bathurst to a space next to the Fort York Armory due to the construction of Little Norway Park. The new space was a paved parking lot, so many of Adventure Park’s lusher offerings were scrapped.

    adventure playground torontoGone were the gardens, the water, and the fire-pit. While both Adventure Playground and Creative Playground were featured more prominently in Harbourfront’s marketing, truth be told it was never really the same.

    Attitudes about safety and accountability were changing too, and as you might imagine there were a legion of legal entities salivating at the prospect of taking on this dangerous playground.

    An unfortunate incident occurred in the 1980s when a child broke into the grounds late at night and injured himself.

    His parents retained counsel, and the legal eagles descended like locusts. Not surprisingly, Adventure Playground was soon closed for good.

    adventure playground toronto

    The site of the original Adventure Playground as it looks today. Photo by William Kimber.

    Anyone who ever attended Adventure Playground, albeit on a short or long visit, no doubt carries vivid memories of it through life. It was a fleeting moment of absolute freedom; to not only imagine and create physical structures, but to govern them as well.

    Being handed a saw and a 2x4 was empowering, and while technology now allows young people to create and dominate virtual worlds, it’s not quite the same thrill.

    Ed Conroy's Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at www.retrontario.com.


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    The best sandwiches in Toronto are made by those who know that bread, meat and veggies are more than just ingredients. They can be the components of a masterpiece. Just show up at one of these local places and see what they can make happen between two pieces of bread.

    Here are the best sandwiches in Toronto.

    4 - Black Camel

    This Rosedale sandwich bar does the humble dish right with incredible beef brisket, steak, pulled pork and chicken, and BLTs.
    9 - Egg Bae

    Breakfast sandwich worshippers gather in Kensington market where the egg sandwiches come on House brioche and with House cured bacon and salmon.
    11 - Kitson and Co.

    Sandwiches are the specialty at this Parkdale place that does cheesesteaks, fried chicken sandwiches and their own take on Roti.
    3 - Porchetta & Co (Exchange Tower)

    Like the name suggests, this sandwich chain with multiple Toronto locations specializes in slow-roasted porchetta sammies but also makes fried chicken and breakfast sandwiches.
    7 - Torteria San Cosme

    Meat-packed Mexican sandwiches are the specialty of this spot in the heart of Kensington market.
    5 - Knuckle Sandwich

    Portobello sandwiches match the beefiness of flank and chicken torta sandwiches at this spot near Coxwell Avenue and O’Connor Drive.
    8 - When The Pig Came Home

    The peameal sandwiches at this Junction deli aren’t exactly traditional with kale and maple aioli, but an eclectic mix of jerk chicken, smoked meat and Philly cheesesteaks on the menu makes this sandwich spot unique.
    10 - Nonna's Place

    Authentic Italian sandwiches still have a home in the Junction Triangle at this place with restrictive hours and long lines that loyal customers are more than willing to put up with. Amazing veal, meatball, and eggplant sandwiches are best super hot with melty cheese.
    6 - PG Cluck's

    The fried chicken sandwiches at this hut in Little Italy are so good because they’re made with thigh meat dredged in a special process, but take your Sammy to the next level Big Mac style or with jalapeño and honey.

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    TIFF arrives in Toronto this week with a enormous slew of buzz-worthy films along with the AGO with their inaugural First Thursdays of the season. There's food, music and markets too along with lots of free stuff as well.

    Events you might want to check out:

    The Wonder Woman Show (September 4 @ Social Capital Theatre)
    Back again is this all-female-idenfiying comedy show earthing local comedians and all proceeds going towards the Sistering support centre.
    Toronto Fashion Week (September 4-6 @ Multiple Venues)
    The semi-annual fashion extravaganza is back once again in Yorkville showcasing new and established Canadian designers.
    OCAD Artist Alley (September 5 @ Butterfield Park)
    Toronto's own budding and established artists are selling a ton of handmade goodies like clothing, jewelry, prints, zines, stickers and lots more.
    AGO First Thursday (September 6 @ Art Gallery of Ontario)
    A new season of monthly art parties kicks off this month with food, drinks and a revolving showcase of genre-hopping musical scenery.
    Toronto International Film Festival (September 6-16 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    Toronto is set to become a star-studded wonderland for ten, whole days as TIFF returns with screenings, a street festival, parties and lots more.
    Xpace Cultural Centre Programming Launch Party (September 7 @ XPACE (Lansdowne))
    This eclectic gallery is throwing party in celebration of its 2018-2019 programming launch with DJ,s snacks, drinks and, of course, lots of new art.
    Taste of the Kingsway (September 7-9 @ The Kingsway)
    Take a stroll through the Kingsway, where 150 vendors will be lined up with food and drinks, served alongside exhibits and entertainment.
    Veg Food Fest (September 7-9 @ Harbourfront Centre)
    Eat your heart out at this huge vegetarian food festival with over 140 vendors within a huge market place full of yummy goodies.
    Aqua and Prozzak (September 8 @ RBC Echo Beach)
    Rewind it back to the 90s when pop music ran the world while Aqua's hyper dance hits and Prozzak's animated videos ruled the airwaves.
    The Mystic Forest (September 8 @ Opera House)
    The Opera House is getting a makeover of psychedelic proportions as The Mystic Forest returns with all kinds of trippy fun inside the concert hall.
    Dragon Boat Challenge (September 8-9 @ Marilyn Bell Park)
    The 25th annual Dragon Boat Challenge is back with over 100 dragon boat crews from across North America.
    Yuno (September 8 @ The Garrison)
    Hypnotic and raw, Florida's Yuno's down-to-earth R&B style and raps capture blend psych-rock for new kind of musical trip.
    QS World MBA Tour (September 8 @ Metro Toronto Convention Centre)
    Make an informed decision about whether an MBA is for you at this big industry event with school reps and experts on-site to answer questions.
    Burgers + Beers (September 9 @ 86 Miller Street)
    Is there anything better than a sweaty, cheese-smothered burger? How about an all-you-can-eat burgers and $4 beer party? It's lit!
    Outlaw Music Festival (September 9 @ Budweiser Stage)
    Willie Nelson and friends take the stage by the water for the country music extravaganza.

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    The 2018 edition of the Canadian International Air Show roared into view this past weekend with an exciting lineup of performers.

    There was longtime audience favourite Mike Wiskus in his Lucas Oil Pitt Special bi-plane thrilling the crowd with loops, stalls and smoke trails, along with the first time arrival of the United States Air Force F-35 Lightning II military jet doing a heritage flight with a restored WW2-era P-51 Mustang.

    toronto air showThe Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds also made their annual appearance.

    toronto air showThe standout performers, though were the USAF Thunderbirds, a demonstration team that we haven’t seen over Toronto’s skyline in 15 years.

    toronto air showA six-jet team of F-16 fighter aircraft, the Thunderbirds specialize in precise maneuvers that demonstrate the capabilities of the jets as well as the skill of the pilots.

    toronto air showSaturday’s performance included a ride-along by Canadian astronaut (and musician) Chris Hadfield.

    toronto air showThe show also featured a performance by the RCAF CF-18 featuring its 2018 paint job celebrating the 60th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

    toronto air showOther performers included the return of 77 year-old Canadian Gord Price and his Yak-50, Martin Hivon in his Christen Eagle bi-plane, Kyle Fowler’s Rutan-designed Long-EZ and Mike Tryggvason’s Giles G-202.

    toronto air showOf course, people always complain about the noise that the annual event brings with it but there's no denying the pilots and their planes put on quite a show.

    toronto air show


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    Ice cream on Queen West is like hot dogs on buns: they just go together. With as many ice creameries as there are clothing stores (not really, but it feels like it) you'll find treats that run the gamut from classic favourites to the latest in Instagrammable treats. 

    Here are my picks for the top ice cream on Queen West. 

    Nadege Ice Cream

    The flagship store of this famous French brand now has an ice cream section where you can get 17 flavours of ice cream and sorbet. They're known for their macarons, so obviously the best move here is to grab one of their waffle cones covered in mini macs'. 

    Sweet Olenka’s

    The West Queen West version of this Etobicoke classic is where you can grab scoops of vegan ice cream in flavours like maple bacon and roasted marshmallow. Grab a scoop and walk over to Trinity Bellwoods for hest enjoyment. 

    Cauldron Ice Cream

    It doesn't really get prettier than the "puffle cones" from this California-based chain, where rose-shaped ice cream made from liquid nitrogen is served up in waffle cones. 

    Butter Avenue

    These guys may be best known for their unreal macarons, but they've also got some pretty amazing ice cream. Soft serve and sorbet comes in exciting flavours like uji matcha or strawberry purée (or both) for a refreshing, cool treat. 

    Cool N2

    Liquid nitrogen gives birth to delicious ice cream at this impressive shop, where you can get ice creams like blueberry cheesecake, matcha, and Oreo. 

    Sukoi

    This small counter combines Japanese taiyaki cones with delicious swirly soft serve. There's just two flavours here, matcha or black sesame (you can also get as swirl) but both are the perfect accompaniment to these tasty fish-shaped cones. 

    iHalo Krunch

    They've got a new flagship location just a few doors down from the original spot on Queen but they're still scooping up the same purple and black flavours in their signature charcoal cones. 

    La Diperie

    You'll probably recognize this spot from its turquoise wall a.k.a perfect IG background. This this Montreal-based brand specializes in dipped cones with over 40 types of dipping flavours. 

    Kekou Gelato

    Whether you get it in bars or in scoops, Kekou's ice cream comes in all types of Asian-inspired flavours like Hong Kong milk tea, all made in-house behind the counter.

    Hollywood Cone

    All the treats here are epic in the most over-the-top way possible. Ice cream base comes in basic vanilla, chocolate, or twist, but you can deck it out to the max with crazy toppings from smarties to sour gummy bears.


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    Nestled between two historic ethnic enclaves on Toronto's east side, a small section of Gerrard East continues to emerge as one of the city's hottest destinations for laidback cocktails and comfort food. 

    The area between Logan and Jones occupies the northern border of Leslieville, jutting upward to sit between the slowly revitalizing East Chinatown neighbourhood in the west and the densely packed Little India to the east.

    What's been a sleepy, residential area has, in the last three years, seen some major upgrades. Catching up with the rest of Gerrard East between Coxwell and the DVP, vacant shops and the folding of old businesses have turned this little pocket into the newest place-t0-be.

    pinkertons toronto

    Pinkerton's Snack Bar was one of the first new businesses to pop up on Gerrard East in the last three years. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    There's no official name for it yet, but there is a hashtag: #Gerrones.

    Like the coupling of your two fave celebs, Gerrones marries Gerrard and Jones streets together to form a moniker for one of the main intersections in this area, where many newer businesses have begun to congregate. 

    Coined by the team behind the snack bar Pinkerton's, which was one of the first young businesses to open up over two years ago, the hashtag has become a sort of digital hub where residents and businesses alike now gather to revel in a revived sense of community. 

    "Pre-Gerrones, there really wasn't much out there," says Marc Baglio, owner of Pinkerton's. "There was kind of as seediness to it that had a Brookyln in the 70s kind of vibe...now it's like a restaurant row." 

    chula taberna toronto

    The patio at Chula Taberna Mexicana sits right at the intersection of #Gerrones. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Chula Taberna Mexicana, Double D's, and Pollyana are just several of the newer businesses to pop up nearby in the last year, alongside the older Great Burger Kitchen and further west, Maple Leaf Tavern—considered by many as the restaurant to spark the Gerrones area evolution. 

    For Baglio, it was Gerrard East's cheap leases and general lack of competition that attracted him to the area. It's a newfound sense of east-end pride, however, that's led him to open a second project Poor Romeo across the street, and a third on the way: the Vatican Gift Shop.

    "People are so cool, there's a mature crowd," says Baglio, who's since moved out to the neighbourhood himself. "If they don't perceive value, in the east side, they won't buy into it. They're savvy."

    Set to open in late October, the Vatican Gift Shop will take over the back portion of two units at 1047 Gerrard East, which is just a stones throw away from both Pinkertons or Poor Romeo. 

    Tucked away behind a This Is London barbershop location and a storefront selling trinkets like religious candles, the secret cocktail bar will be the first of its kind in an area that, for years, has been pretty short on neighbourhood haunts. 

    And in true eastside pride, locals will also have access to beers from the newly formed Eastside Brewery Collective (like Godspeed and Left Field), and a food menu with staples like Neopolitan pizza. 

    poor romeo toronto

    Poor Romeo, by the same people behind Pinkerton's, has more of a local dive bar vibe. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    "It's interesting how it’s developed," says head chef at Pinkerton's and co-owner of Poor Romeo, Andy Wilson, about Gerrard East. 

    The Asian markets where Wilson buys his ingredients for Pinkerton's still run the show in this part of town, he says. And Gerrard Square is still a major central hub here, where the power of Walmart and Home Depot will likely remain uncontested for years to come.

    "While there's certainly signs of gentrification, there’s quite a nice bit of diversity in the restaurants," he says. "It's not insane over development to the point where it isn't a vibrant multicultural, mixed income [area]." 

    maple leaf tavern toronto

    Maple Leaf Tavern completely revitalized the former old bar three years ago. Photo by Hector Vasquez.  

    Kristin Rankin, owner of Fuss Hair, has lived in this section of Leslieville for ten years. She just recently moved her salon up two blocks to Gerrard after 10 years on Queen East, and says that the area is now the spot for entrepreneurs who want to stay ahead of the curve.

    "Right now there's so much potential for anyone who has a really great idea for a businesses," says Rankin. "The amount of foot traffic here is incredible."  

    "Sometimes change is just really good."

    While Baglio and his team have claimed the 75-metre radius where Poor Romeo, Pinkteron's, and the soon-t0-come Vatican Gift Shop are, the neighbourhood hasn't filled out completely just yet—there's still a few empty storefronts waiting to get bought out. 

    As for the urban growing pains of old neighbourhoods being taken over to become overrun, overpriced streets like Ossington or Queen West, there's a good general sense that might not happen this time around.  

    "I don't think it'll ever get to Ossington status, and I don't think the neighbourhood would ever want that," says Baglio. 

    Those who live in the area know that east side pride is real, so while the cost of rent will inevitably edge upwards, it's unlikely Gerrard East will take a page out of Toronto's west side book and allow the neighbourhood to become party central or condoville without a fight.


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    Oh hey future landlords, do I have a place for you! This seven bedroom, six bathroom Junction home is the perfect place to transform into some sweet rental units.19 laws street torontoThe home was built in 1896 and is full of character and charm. The stained glass windows, the gorgeous hardwood floors, and the exposed brick are some of the well maintained original features of the home.

    19 laws street torontoThe house is split into three apartments above ground and one basement apartment. There are two two-bedroom apartments on the main floor, a three-bedroom apartment upstairs and a one-bedroom apartment in the basement.

    19 laws street torontoEven though this place has great bones it definitely needs a healthy dose of TLC. Like the kitchen and bathrooms are in desperate need of renovation.

    19 laws street torontoThe house also doesn’t have air conditioning installed but many of the rooms have ceiling fans. That being said in the summer those fans don’t do much to beat the heat.

    19 laws street torontoThe bedrooms are spacious and bright, although they could use a new coat of paint.

    19 laws street torontoAs for outdoor space the upstairs apartment has a sunroom/ patio, which overlooks the front road.

    19 laws street torontoThe house also has a huge sprawling backyard with plenty of trees and a big lawn that could easily be shared with all the units.

    19 laws street torontoSpecs
    • Address: 19 Laws Street
    • Price: $2,499,000
    • Lot Size: 50 x 250 feet
    • Bedrooms: 7+1
    • Bathrooms: 6
    • Parking: 7
    • Walk Score: 77
    • Transit Score: 76
    • Listing agent: Frank De Franco
    • Listing ID: W4230536
    19 laws street torontoGood For

    Renting out. The home is already divided into four apartments, all you have to do is spruce up the interior and you can just watch that rental money pour in.

    19 laws street torontoMove On If

    You’re looking for a single family home. Sure you could make this into one but you’d need to do some extensive renovations for that to happen.19 laws street toronto


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    This week on DineSafe both Ding Dong Pastries & Cafe in Chinatown and Lamesa on Queen West were shut down by Toronto health inspectors due to rodents. Yikes!

    See what other local restaurants landed in hot water with city health inspectors this week on DineSafe.

    Ding Dong Pastries & Cafe (321 Spadina Ave.)
    • Inspected on: August 28, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Red (Closed)
    • Number of infractions: 8 (Minor: 5, Significant: 2, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Food premise maintained in manner permitting health hazard (rodents).
    Gordo Ex Cafe (1048 Bathurst St.)
    • Inspected on: August 28, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 4 (Minor: 3, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    Pho Huong (394 Pacific Ave.)
    • Inspected on: August 28, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 3 (Minor: 1, Significant: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Locals Only (589 King St. West)
    • Inspected on: August 29, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 3 (Minor: 1, Significant: 1, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Stored ice in unsanitary manner.
    Messini (445 Danforth Ave.)
    • Inspected on: August 29, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 4 (Minor: 1, Significant: 1, Crucial: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: Refrigerated potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature above 4°C and failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    The Real Jerk (842 Gerrard St. East)
    • Inspected on: August 29, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Significant: 1, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Stored potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C.
    Lamesa (669 Queen St. West)
    • Inspected on: August 30, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Red (Closed)
    • Number of infractions: 5 (Minor: 3, Significant: 1, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Food premise maintained in manner permitting health hazard (rodents).
    Triple A Bar (138 Adelaide St. East)
    • Inspected on: August 30, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 6 (Minor: 2, Significant: 2, Crucial: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: Failed to process food in manner safe to eat and maintained potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C.
    ZenQ (5437 Yonge St.)
    • Inspected on: August 30, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Crucial: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: Stored potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C and stored ice in unsanitary manner.
    Hero Certified Pizza (90 Weston Rd.)
    • Inspected on: August 31, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 1 (Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Pizza Pizza (1193 Bloor St. West)
    • Inspected on: August 31, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Minor: 1, Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Silver Spoon (4800 Sheppard Ave. East)
    • Inspected on: August 31, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 8 (Minor: 1, Significant: 4, Crucial: 3)
    • Crucial infractions include: Distributed potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C, stored potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C and failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    Wild Wing (6015 Steeles Ave. East)
    • Inspected on: August 31, 2018
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Significant: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A

    Note: The above businesses each received infractions from DineSafe as originally reported on the DineSafe site. This does not imply that any of these businesses have not subsequently corrected the issue and received a passing grade by DineSafe inspectors. For the latest status for each of the mentioned businesses, including details on any subsequent inspections, please be sure to check the DineSafe site.


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    Nothing is sexier to a pedestrian than having her eardrums ruptured by the sound of some cool dude's modified crotch rocket at a stoplight, right?

    Wrong. Almost everybody in every city hates excessively loud noises — mostly because we're inundated by them all the time, from jackhammers and train horns to screaming kids and squealing brakes.

    So, when people actually pay for their vehicles to sound like lawn mowers with megaphones, it's annoying (not to mention unhealthy and potentially dangerous.)

    Toronto Mayor John Tory, currently running for reelection, wants the city to crack down on motorcycles and sports cars with unnecessarily loud pipes by drafting stronger bylaws that dish out heavier fines to offenders.

    "It is my view that over the past year in particular, this has become a much more widespread problem affecting quality of life for residents and visitors alike," wrote Tory in a letter to the city's head of municipal licensing and standards.

    "It is disturbing people in their homes, during the day and at night, it is disrupting business and it is having a negative impact on tourists, all in the apparent cause of feeding the egos of inconsiderate people."

    Tory requested that city staff conduct a review of Toronto's current noise bylaw (which doesn't specifically cover motorcycles) and report back on what could be done to make the rules tougher.

    Among the suggestions floated in Tory's letter are higher fines for non-compliance, the use of red light camera-type technology to capture the licence plates of noisy vehicles and the installation of electronic signs that display a decibel level readout.

    The mayor also suggested that bylaw officers take on more responsibility for enforcing noise rules, as opposed to the police, who often have more pressing matters to deal with.

    "It's poor behaviour," he said to reporters on Monday. "We have to crack down on it."

    He also said that drivers who break any new noise bylaws should be "fined heavily" and that those who most often engage in such behaviour are "making up for other inadequacies."


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    Ryan Gosling, star of the hit 90's YTV show Breaker High, is going to be in Toronto this week, have you heard?

    The folks behind Grinder Coffee in Leslieville have, and they want him to stop by while he's in town for the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (you know, when he isn't busy walking the red carpet and such).

    A series of tweets suggest that the coffee shop at Gerrard Street and Marjory Avenue has embarked on a "10 day campaign" to get Gosling to come and have coffee there during TIFF.

    "Be prepared for the onslaught of love coming your way," wrote the business on Twitter yesterday. "Tag yourself with Grinder Ryan with #ryanneedsgrinder for a chance to win."

    Grinder has enlisted the help of a Ryan Gosling cardboard cutout to help them reel in Ryan Gosling the human.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory, for one, is a fan of said cutout.

    The festival hasn't even started yet, so it remains to be seen what else Grinder Coffee will do to get Gosling's attention.

    Last year, they petitioned actor Idris Elba to stop by, but were not successful. Maybe they'll have better luck this time around with a Canadian actor. Maybe.


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    Street festivals in Toronto for September 2018 mean that, while there may be some road closures to endure, it's well worth it for the food, activities and fun. There's some newcomers this year while old favourites like the Ukrainian Festival are back once again.

    Events you might want to check out:

    TIFF Festival Street (September 6-9 @ King Street West)
    King Street shuts down once again for a four day street party including free film screenings, food, installations and prime red carpet viewing.
    Taste of the Kingsway (September 7-9 @ The Kingsway)
    Take a stroll through the Kingsway, where 150 vendors will be lined up with food and drinks, served alongside exhibits and entertainment.
    St. James Town Festival (September 8 @ St. Jamestown)
    Toronto's historic James Town shows off its colours during this community-wide festival including local artists, vendors, food and programming.
    Cabbagetown Festival (September 8-9 @ Cabbagetown)
    Historic Cabbagetown comes out for a big festival with an all-Canadian market, food from local vendors, activities and live performances.
    Toronto Ukrainian Festival (September 14-16 @ Bloor St. West)
    Ukrainian culture takes over Bloor Street with dancing, food, music and activities. If you haven't tried real borscht or paska yet, this is the time.
    Roncesvalles Polish Festival (September 15-16 @ Roncesvalles Village)
    This yearly staple is back on Roncy with Polish cultural offerings of food, music, dance, entertainment — plus a polka party.
    Open Streets TO (September 16 @ Bloor and Yonge Streets)
    Parts of Yonge and Bloor go car-less for the day during the second instalment of Open Streets with wandering and activities in the street.
    Sterling Road Block Party (September 23 @ Drake Commissary)
    Sterling Road has become the place to be and now it comes together for a big block party with food, drinks and art all down the street.
    Taste of Jane and Finch (September 29 @ Greenwin Inc.)
    New this year is a big street festival at Jane and Finch featuring a day of food trucks offering treats from all over the world, performance and activities.
    International Dumpling Festival (September 29-30 @ James Street)
    Part of Nuit Blanche, this all-night dumpling market will host a diverse spread of vendors with dumplings from cultures all over the world.
    Pedestrian Sundays (September 30 @ Kensington Market)
    Dance, drink, eat, shop, play oversized games or take a moment to meditate during this all-day pedestrian takeover of Kensington Market.

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    Book-lovers, rejoice. The Toronto Public Library's annual BOOKEnds sale is back again. 

    The sale, which sees thousands of books on sale for 10 to 50 cents, will be held at the Toronto Reference Library from Thursday, September 13, to Saturday, September 15. 

    A new novel, a CD or DVD, a cook book, or anything else can be yours for less than a buck. For the cost of a dime you could fall in love with a new story. There's nothing like a good book to chase away those feelings of the end of summer. 

    Don't forget it's cash only, and to bring your own bag. Also, if it's anything like previous years, expect lineups.


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    It looks like Toronto is going to be graced with the presence of our Prime Minister again next week, this time for a panel discussion on women's issues. 

    As part of the Women in the World conference on Monday, Trudeau will be a discussion participant in the "High Cost of Bias" panel. He will be joined by the International Monetary Fund's Managing Director, Christine Lagarde. 

    The panel will examine "the bottom line," and how women's advancement is not just about equality and activism, but opportunity for women and others. It will be moderated by Katie Couric. 

    Tickets are still available, and if Trudeau hangs around for a bit, he's sure to give out some of those iconic selfies he loves. 


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    The CNE gave us a $100 gold burger for a few weeks this year, but Izakaya Ju has come up with a $100 sandwich that will be available year-round.

    The bread isn’t covered with 24-karat gold, but it is the bread of Nakamura Bakery. The A5 Miyazaki Wagyu and goose foie gras is added, to make what they’re calling the J-Town Sandwich Supreme. All three products are reputed to be the best of their kind.

    The sammy goes for $100 for four pieces, or you can do a half order of two pieces for $50.

    The concept for the sandwich follows in the footsteps of Tokyo’s Wagyumafia and New York City’s Don Wagyu, which offer high-end versions of steak katsu sandos for almost USD $200. It’s also not the first outrageously expensive item to grace this restaurant's menu.

    Fully stacked for Friday 💯📸: @mikejchau

    A post shared by Don Wagyu (@donwagyu) on

    The only question that remains, like with the gold burger, is how many people will actually break the bank to give this wagyu foie gras sandwich a try.


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