The completely renovated Our Town Cafe softly opened on Friday morning at 245 East Broadway (at Kingsway). The new cafe – once upon a time as much a neighbourhood hub as nearby Gene Coffee – has been over a year in the making.
The old mainstay closed 13 months ago but renovations didn’t start until December of 2017. Old customers will recognise the slice-of-pie-shaped layout of the place but it’s otherwise massively different. The design is more harmonious now, not to mention considerably slicker with its grey/blond colour palette, hard surfaces, and uniform furnishings throughout. The look has gone from rumpled second wave “character” coffee house aesthetic to Macked third wave — less R.E.M., more New Order. It’s definitely pretty, but that doesn’t make the transformation any less shocking. Some will dig it. Others won’t.
For me, it’s foremost about the coffee. Thankfully, the program has been elevated to include much better methods, machines and beans than before. They’re now rolling with custom Timbertrain blends with rotating roasters in support, and they still offer the classic Our Town brew as an option. There’s also a new and improved food program (breakfast wraps, avo toasts, oats, lots of baked goods), so while there’s a part of me that will pine for the stuck-in-the-90s original I’m glad of the improvements in both systems and product.
I’m especially happy they didn’t change the elevated window seat arrangement on the Broadway length of the building. I always loved that about the place. Also, the 1,800 sqft space comes with its very own live performance nook, and they’ve already started programming. The stage was christened by the one and only Rich Hope just a few hours after I took these photos, and Adriana Pereja played on Saturday night (Thomas Workshop plays a set on June 23).
To keep abreast of what’s going on at Our Town, follow them on Instagram.