Tracy Loyson says her blood, sweat and tears went into renovating her new coffee shop.
Armed with a hammer and a chisel she spent four days chipping away the plaster that covered the main interior wall of The Bandit Coffee Group.
“The renovation process, it took a lot longer than we thought it was going to take,” says her business partner Kirk Stratakos. “Tracy and I both did a lot of the manual labour in demolishing what was here.”
The pair wanted to create an edgier atmosphere and swapped the shop’s laminate floors and drywall for original hardwood and exposed brick. They also made shelving units out of the stairs leading to the basement.
“I think we had fun, both of us, just destroying everything, knocking down walls,” Loyson says. “So literally, the blood, sweat and tears are on this wall.”
On top of offering traditional espresso-based drinks, the shop also has magazines, newspapers and a valet service for dirty laundry.
“I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could get all my morning tasks done at one location?’ ” Stratakos says. “Customers can come in and order their coffee and drop off their cleaning so we will provide the customers with a garment bag and they’ll fill it up with their week’s or month’s worth of cleaning.”
Once the items have been processed at TSC WetClean in Mississauga, which uses wet cleaning — an environmentally friendly alternative to dry cleaning — they let customers know the clothes are ready for pick-up at the coffee shop.
The Bandit Coffee Group, which opened on Gerrard Street East near Woodbine Avenue in mid-September, takes its name from a custom piece of art displayed at the back of the store called Stock Avenue Bandit by James Durant.
“It’s a cool name, right?” Stratakos says. “I liked the word bandit and I thought that would be kind of an edgy name for an espresso bar and it does fit because what we are essentially doing by offering all these services and products is we’re stealing time for the customers.”
Stratakos, who lives in Leslieville, says they also like supporting other community businesses like Te Aro Roasted for their coffee beans and Desmond and Beatrice for their baked goods.
“I think people in the neighbourhood also support that we support local businesses,” Loyson says. “We’ve had a huge welcoming from all the neighbours in the area or people walking by so it’s kind of nice being welcomed by the community. It’s been one of the highlights since we started.”
“The overwhelming response is that they’re happy to have us here in the neighbourhood and they’re thankful that we’re here,” Stratakos added. “They all say now we have a new place to go for coffee instead of actually leaving the community.”
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