A Neighbourhood crush: Vibes speak louder than words at KA Space Café

A place where you can feel at home

Written by Fleur Boomsma

Photography credit:  @MANUANDPASCAL

Photography credit: @MANUANDPASCAL

The whole name defines itself: Space. As you walk in, you realize how much space there is. The big windows, large wooden tables combined with the small and round marble tables describes it all. You can almost see it as an interior designer’s dream café because of its artistic touches and furniture. The open kitchen in the café makes it feel like you’re at home.  

 “Vibes speak louder than words,” very well said by the fashion designer Kevin Allwood. This is the brand and the café’s slogan; as it’s imprinted on the wall and menus. We were lucky to speak with the owner himself about his life, his brand, and the café itself.

Image by Fleur Boomsma

Image by Fleur Boomsma

 The KA Space brand is co-owned by the Canadian-Jamaican designer Kevin Allwood and his wife Ashley King Allwood. Originally from Montreal, the couple moved to Toronto to set up their venture on Carlaw several years ago.

Kevin and Ashley are very mindful of their atmosphere and the café has essentially designed itself. The space is decorated with healing crystals, plants and of course (our favourite part), fresh bread and baked goods.

When Allwood walks into a place, he likes to feel that he’s not a number and that he matters as a customer. He likes to have room around him, enjoy natural lighting, and he definitely does not like clutter. This is his idea behind the design of the café.

“The whole point behind the design of this space was to create a place that had an open kitchen, a playroom for the children, and to give people the feeling that they have space,” Allwood said.

You can come in with your family to have brunch over the weekend or grab your laptop to get some work done during the day. The point is, you have room and it gives you the ability to relax.

You may find it surprising that this organic, vegan, and vegetarian place is reasonably priced. The café sources their ingredients from Sweets from the Earth (vegan) and Epi Breads (European-style stone baked bakeshop), and they even source their sea salt from Vancouver which is hand harvested.

Meet the designer himself: Kevin Allwood / Photography credit:  @MANUANDPASCAL

Meet the designer himself: Kevin Allwood / Photography credit: @MANUANDPASCAL

Kevin is also very conscious on what’s being put in the human body. He sees his body as a machine and you need to be healthy in order for it to function properly.

“When I eat, I don’t want to feel like I’m putting bad things in my body, so I really couldn't do that to somebody else,” Allwood says.

He also doesn’t like the labels of veganism and vegetarianism but says that’s what you have to use in order to communicate the truth.

So, looking at the menu options, you may see that everything is very simplified. Kevin went down the list of what a human’s basic needs are with regards to food. His favourite items on the menu happen to be the breakfast sandwich and the pink lychee cactus pear juice (trust us, this is a great combination).

Future vision for KA Space Café

Come and enjoy the avocado artisanal toast with tomato and sea salt at the KA Space Cafe / Photography credit:  @MANUANDPASCAL

Come and enjoy the avocado artisanal toast with tomato and sea salt at the KA Space Cafe / Photography credit: @MANUANDPASCAL

Kevin laughs when we asked about the café’s future, “it’s an interesting thing because the whole idea behind the place is very divine,” he says. The café can be replicated because it’s so structured.

Can he see himself opening up this kind of café in every city? His answer: definitely.

“I can see myself opening a few more here in the city and also stay within the context of veganism/vegetarianism.”

Location: 1183 Queen St East

Time Travel to a Living Room in the 90’s

Farside bar plays VHS, vinyls and trivia to help quell any nostalgia you’ve had for the last great decade.

photo courtesy of Toronto Life

photo courtesy of Toronto Life

Article by Marlene de Leon

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The host with the most, Russel Harder, is nicknamed the man in the bow tie.

Deep in the heart of East Chinatown flashes a neon “Open” sign with a palm tree. It’s Wednesday trivia night, which Russel Harder, aka the man in the bow tie, holds every other week at Farside bar (really, he wears a bow tie to every trivia night).

Priding itself on its sense of community, Farside calls itself the neighbourhood’s communal living room. Nestled in the heart of Riverdale at 600 Gerrard St. E., the bar is an anomaly. It’d be difficult to find any other locations in the area that can speak to the vibrancy of the community.

The bar hosts Trivia Club biweekly on Wednesday, VHS movie screenings every Monday and guest DJs who spin vinyl records on Saturdays. (See their monthly schedule here.)

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The bar also hosts Post a Letter Social Activity Club, where patrons write letters to politicians, loved ones and everyone in between.

Time travel never looked so good.

Comfy sofas are upholstered with fabric straight out of the 90’s (florally and reminiscent of something you’d find in your granny’s basement) and are stationed right by the front window. The wall behind the couches is adorned with a mural (which photos just don’t do justice), painted by a Toronto artist. Friends curl up, gathering their wits for trivia night.

Russel gives you a sheet of paper for your trivia answers and asks for your team name. You are now a member of Farside Trivia Club.

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Order classics and cocktails at the bar.

You’re part of the community as soon as you walk through the door.

The bartender hands you a menu, each one showcasing a different illustration by a Toronto artist.

While ordering a drink and hot dogs, a Disney VHS plays from a projector onto the back wall of the bar.

It feels like you’re 10 years old again, hanging out at friend’s house in 1998… except you can drink alcohol.

Trivia begins.

There are three rounds, each one packed with questions relating to old movies, songs and pop culture from decades past. The game evokes equal exclamations of both “I remember this!” and “I can’t believe I don’t remember this!”

Then, just like in grade school, you exchange trivia pages. You’ll go through another team’s answers, evoking equal exclamations of both “I can’t believe they didn’t remember that!” and “How could they possibly have remembered that?”

At the end, Russel returns your trivia sheet and gives you a sticker. You’ve earned it!

Stay a while. Have another drink. Maybe celebrate with a piece of cake served on a Spice Girls plate. (This is a real item on the menu!) It’s not everyday you get to time travel to the 90’s.

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The seating is as comfy as your nana's old sofa and the mural by a local artist adds a sense of Toronto community pride.

Farside Toronto
600 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Y3
www.farsideto.com
(647) 347-7433

These Baristas Serve Booze!

Dineen Coffee Co.’s newest and hippest boutique coffee bar opens up just outside of Riverdale – and they have a liquor license!

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Article and photography by Marlene de Leon

A clean exterior with gold plating builds anticipation for what's inside.

A clean exterior with gold plating builds anticipation for what's inside.

Now that our annual Canuck tradition of Tim Horton’s Roll-Up-The-Rim is coming to an end and we’re slowly coming to terms with our crushed dreams of winning a car with our coffee, Dineen Coffee Co. offers a reliable solution to our winter blues: charcuterie boards, gorgeous Instagram-worthy décor and booze.

Dineen Outpost has opened on Gerrard Street! This boutique coffee house is Dineen Coffee Co.’s third location, and the first to obtain its liquor license.

Their delicious coffee selection is available in their retail section.

Their delicious coffee selection is available in their retail section.

Its aesthetic is unparalleled for a café in the Riverdale area, all thanks to the brilliant eyes behind Pencil interior design.

Covered in salmon-coloured leather and marble, antique-looking gold fixtures, and gorgeous retail shelves on white wooden walls, Dineen Outpost is the perfect rustic getaway from the last bits of winter.

The front seating area boasts ceiling-high windows – a reconstruction of the windows at original location in the Dineen Building – that let in plenty of sunlight and none of the cold.

But the gorgeous interior isn’t what keeps people coming back. When you’re at Dineen Outpost, you’re in great company.

If the place isn’t buzzing with friendly locals who are catching up over olives and Old Fashioned’s or families grabbing baguette sandwiches on the go, the baristas are always welcoming and eager to strike up a conversation. You’ll recognize them by their uniforms: a periwinkle blue blouse, red suspenders and a warm smile.

It’s no wonder Dineen Outpost is quickly becoming a hotspot for Riverdale and other surrounding neighbourhoods.

Upstairs is a more secluded seating area.

Upstairs is a more secluded seating area.

The upstairs seating area looks down onto the bar.

The upstairs seating area looks down onto the bar.

Food ranges from early morning pastries to late night bites. Drinks range from cortados to chianti. But if great food and wine aren’t your thing, there’s also wifi and a quiet upper area with plenty of seating and natural light to get some work done. Located just beside the espresso bar, the wafting aroma of espresso beans will keep you inspired.

Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, Dineen Outpost is a sure year-round staple where you can grab a coffee or a cocktail at any hour of the waking day.

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Dineen Outpost
1042 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Z5
www.dineencoffee.com
(416) 924-7515