1205 Queen Street West, c. 1990
At the corner of Queen & Dufferin, where the Dufferin bus stops after passing under the CN Railway bridge en route to the Exhibition, there’s a small commercial plaza. Its tenants are a motley crew that includes QD Computer, Queen St. Pharmacy and Comesee New & Used Restaurant Equipment.
I hate to be negative, but these guys may not want to hold their breath. Over the years, turnover at the plaza has been unusually high, as one off-beat assemblage of businesses and organizations has given way, property by property, to another. Some corners seem cursed that way.
As a kid, my school bus used to drop me off at my mom’s work, which has moved twice in the past decade and a half, but has always been located within walking distance of the plaza. At its easternmost end, now the site of a beauty salon called Jane’s Hair, there used to be the most amazing fast food joint, Cheek’s.
Cheek’s had an incredible BLT, the likes of which I have never tasted in the 15+ years since the burger joint graced one side of the plaza. If my memory serves me well, it was served on a hamburger bun, with generous mayonnaise and Canadian bacon, and they would wrap it up in foil to go.
A Google search reveals there’s a Cheek’s Homemade Burgers & Good Eats in Bolton, Ontario. Could it be the legendary BLT lives on north of the 401?
307 Danforth Avenue, c. 1995
If Cheek’s BLTs bring me back to when I was 8 or 9, Dark City, an east-end café no longer in business, reminds me of the beginning of my high school years. Around this time, the Toronto Star was proclaiming coffee houses “the nightclubs of the ’90s.” Key difference: these nightclubs didn’t ID.
Located on the Danforth, steps from Chester subway station and walking distance from one of my best friends’ home at the time, Dark City quickly became a regular hangout. Our first ventures there came out of tagging along with her older brother who was 17 or 18 to our 13-14. But it soon became the spot we’d go just us two to discuss ‘serious’ matters and plot summer travels (some plans actually materialized in later years!). I don’t think I ever ordered coffee here, as this was some time before I drank the stuff—we favoured Italian sodas and maybe the odd hot chocolate, although we did get hooked on the chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Looks like Dark City is still roasting coffee, but to my knowledge, it has been a while since the company has been in the business of serving it directly to customers. At the site of the former Dark City one now finds 7 Numbers, an Italian restaurant. My old friend tells me they serve a lovely Valentine’s Day special at a very decent price.
Ted’s Wrecking Yard
549 College Street, c. 2000
Midway through high school, I started volunteering at North By Northeast (NXNE). I couldn’t work at the clubs yet, but I helped out on the conference side of the annual indie music festival. It was through NXNE that I became acquainted with a few bands on the Toronto circuit. My favourite of these was zoebliss. Continue reading