Five Years Ago This Week, This Popular Coffee Shop Was Just Taking Shape in Chinatown

Matchstick co-founder Spencer Viehweger blows sawdust of the top of a freshly cut table top destined for his Chinatown cafe in December, 2013 | Photo: Scout Magazine

For our #ThrowbackThursday feature this week we look back exactly five years to the construction of Matchstick Coffee Roasters in Chinatown. Here’s what we published back then, together with a gallery of images:

I looked in on the construction of the upcoming Chinatown location of Matchstick Coffee today with owners Annie and Spencer Viehweger (and wee little Abraham, all of six months old). If you need a refresher, the exact address is 213 East Georgia, which puts it on the same block as Mamie Taylor’s, The Brixton, East Of Main, and Phnom Penh.

It looks like a tiny little spot from the street, but inside it’s a voluminous 2,800 sqft! That’s enough space to accommodate 70 seats, an office, a glassed-in bakery, four communal tables (3 made from the same birch tree, the 4th being maple), and a coffee bar as long as – if not longer than –  the original Matchstick at Fraser & Kingsway. It’s big, and I expect it will be beautiful when it’s finished off with its polished concrete floor and reclaimed wood wall panelling.

The real kicker is the bakery. It sounds especially awesome. They’re going to be baking all of their own stuff in house, including rustic country loaves, croissants galore, and maybe even a rye. The oven is an 8 foot high, four deck, steam injection Bassanina beast from Italy that weighs a whopping 20,000 pounds.

Though it looks a bit of a dusty shambles in the shots above and below, they’re on track for a late January or early February opening. We’ll take a look again when the time is ripe…

The cafe would ultimately open in early March, 2014 and gain an immediate following that has only grown with time. The photos below show it with its kitchen framing just begun and the wood that would later make up its table sets, window benches and countertops stacked on the floor. Matchstick has since gone on to open two other locations: one on Main Street (2016) and the other on Richards Street (2018).

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