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Cafes

Good Times Bad Times Cafe

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on December 13, 2011

Good Times Bad TimesGood Times Bad Times Cafe feels like it was plucked straight from Kensington Market. The nod to 60's rock is obvious, but the community-focused, sort of psychedelic vibe has more to do with the subtle intangibles. One of which, is owner Juan's joie de vivre.

I stop into the month-old cafe at Bloor and Sterling Road hoping to speak with owners Juan and Marco. "I'm Juan Marco," Juan says with no hint of a smile. Luckily, I know better, and we get right to chatting.

Good Times Bad TimesJuan tells me he and Marco have been longtime friends, and that they recently decided to give up their "explorer" lifestyles. They came across this space, which has housed countless variety stores in its past, and thought it would be perfect for a new tea cafe. So they got straight to work, filling the space with mostly salvaged furniture.

Good Times Bad TimesTo call the decor at GTBG "eclectic" would be an understatement. It feels a little retro, with two 70s lamps enveloping the space in an orange glow, along with little artsy touches including a red side table topped with an assortment of glued-on buttons. There's an upright cooler display offering little baggies of trail mix, children's drawings taped to the wall, and a plush rocking horse in the middle of the floor for no discernible reason.

"We like to honour the little spirits," Juan says when I ask him about the kids' drawings. "A lot of them come in with their moms. It's pure; it's clean."

Good Times Bad TimesAlong with juvenile-bred masterpieces, GTBT offers all sorts of books from its communal bookcase. "It started with my collection and Marco's," Juan says. "But now people are bringing in their own; anything that has inspired them, and that they want to share with other human beings."

Good Times Bad TimesWhile admiring the art or delving into a forgotten novel, customers can have their pick of 27 varieties of loose leaf teas ($1.50) sourced from Metropolitan Tea, along with a piece of pie ($2.50) made by a baker in Bowmanville. On Juan's recommendation, I go for a cup of Genmaicha Chai, which comes off as a verbose green with a little bit of spice, and pair it with a slice of blueberry pie.

Good Times Bad TimesIt's a good snack-sized slice, about the size of an average fist, and certainly tastes homemade, as it should. All set to the backdrop of Japanese house music, I'd think I was on Augusta if it wasn't for Club Paradise down the road.

Good Times Bad TimesGood Times Bad TimesPhotos by Kyle Burton

Discussion

23 Comments

Jen / December 13, 2011 at 01:45 pm
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These guys have put so much heart into this GTBT; the vibe, people and attitude feel like a friend's living room. I love having this place as a neighbour.
MistaMe / December 13, 2011 at 02:03 pm
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Can't stand the vibe of this place. Looks like garage sale leftovers rather than a cozy or inviting cafe.
Leah replying to a comment from MistaMe / December 13, 2011 at 02:57 pm
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There's a Starbucks and SecondCup on Runnymede dear MistaMe. Still, most of us will agree with Jen's comment :) Thanks for creating this space guys!
Holden / December 13, 2011 at 03:22 pm
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Good tea. Nice place. I would also add nice guys.
http://youtu.be/SDrABWb9VIQ
Will / December 13, 2011 at 04:19 pm
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Sorry but why bother when Zocalo is right across the street?
James / December 13, 2011 at 04:33 pm
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I always say, if you don't like it, then don't go in. It's not for you then. Yah we have a few small mom & pop cafes in the area nice to see them. It;s also a nice addition to the community. Empty stores is never good for a community. For Will and MistaMe, I have my own comments abouts those 2 places as well. But why critize them. There is enough people in the community and passerby to have people in both places. Sad enough places like these don't last, rent been one thing and regular clients and the big thing, money the ruler of all things. Most franchise have money, these place survive, my 2 cents. J
Holden / December 13, 2011 at 04:46 pm
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I'm pretty puzzled by your comment Will. So the immediate vicinity has a restaurant why do we need a second one? My advice would be don't walk 5 minutes east or west of this spot. You'll be overwhelmed with the redundancy.
Will / December 14, 2011 at 09:07 am
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The comment is for the fact that Zocalo serves incredible coffee and desserts already and so much more, its also a much nicer space. The area is a huge boom area and needs people to see some diversity instead of slight variances of the same thing. We already have Zocalo, Neon Cafe, Starving Artist, Hula Girl, Bloordale Pantry, Holy Oak, Toronto Coffee Co all within a 10 minute walk of this place, all serving slight variances of the same thing. I know we here in Toronto start seeing an area turning around when the little cafes start sprouting up but at this point... We're in need of something new not more of the same.
Leah replying to a comment from Will / December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am
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Dear Will, GTBT is a "tea house" not a "coffee shop". There is a big difference between drinking tea and drinking coffee (like drinking beer and drinking wine). GTBT offers 30+ varieties of loose tea from all over the world, not coffee. Coffee lovers can go to any of the other places you mentioned (including Zocalo and Nonnas) but if you want to taste a good Sencha, Lapsang Souchong or a Chai you should definitely try GTBT then.
Unfortunately the title reads "Good Times Bad Times Cafe" which can lead to your misunderstanding.
We welcome all these little businesses giving a good name to a neighborhood that was full of hookers and junkies just a few years ago.
Philip / December 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm
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As a long term resident of Sterling Road and Current Co-Chair of the South Perth and Sterling Road Residents Association, We are very happy to have the GTBT cafe as an addition to the neighbourhood.
we love the eclectic vibe of their business & of those others that have settled in and around this corner.
We do love Zocalo they were the 1st of the trendier pioneers in the hood & we are supremely happy with Nonas - especially since they renovated !!
With GTBT we love that there is an inexpensive place to go & have a great cup of tea, chat with the area residents, play a boardgame or just lose oneself in a book.
We now have a great well kept variety store and laundromat that offers Drycleaning services& Lottery - across the street is a very good, inexpensive tailoring shop too.
Eventually, I can see that in the near future the Auto Shops on Bloor will relocate and we will have some other retail on the strip.
It has taken more than 15 years but we are finally getting the area attracting some cool businesses - so to those that think we don't need them - fine - I for 1 am happy to help keep these businesses in our neighbourhood as they help keep eyes on the street and makes the overall area that much more vibrant& interesting.

Cheers,
Philip
Omar replying to a comment from Will / December 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm
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If you visit cities like Rome, Paris, London, New York or even Montreal you will see cafes and restaurant all over, even one next to the other, boulevars full of them. I don't think you will ever hear people saying "too many slight variances of the same thing". Every place has its own flavour and atmosphere Will.
So, if one day we see thai, japanese, mexican restaurants opening in the neighborhood you will say again "Sorry but why bother when Zocalo is right across the street"?
Zocalo is a great place with amazing food. If more Zocalos, GTBTs, Neons, Holy Oaks open in the area then the rest will come.
... It's just a matter of time :)
Marian / December 20, 2011 at 09:46 am
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I am wondering Why people have to talk about which store is better. This is our community and Juan just wants to spread LOVE . Why can't we stop competing each other and Love/ respect each other ???? Love makes us one big unit and our community will be much better ! I talk with Juan sometimes. I love the place so much and what I love the most is Juan always appreciate all people ( no matter He is homeless or not .He treats people equally ) and gives LOVE and try to make one big family there. I met a lot of people there and they are my friends now.... Yes, they just opened the room and need to improve some points ... But GTBT is not ONLY for drinking tea or coffee ... It is more than that ! we have to stop competing and we have to be together ..... I am pretty sure that is what Juan and Marco want !!
Anonymous / February 18, 2012 at 08:51 pm
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Well, today my friend and I went to this cafe. The tea was quite delicious, though, the hipster running the cash register was creepy and asked far too many personal questions...
for example, he would ask us "So, you are in high school?" then five minutes later say "you two are adorable, which middle school do you attend?" and when we went to order some take out tea, he asked "how's elementary school?". When we were walking out the door, he quickly commented "thanks for bringing in your smiles!"
He is probably just a little too friendly, but we recommend that if you are to run a business (or work at one) please do not come on too harshly to costumers.
Thanks for reading our opinions and we are not trying to be negative. It was a fun[ish] experience.
:)
Rebecca / February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am
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Do you know they have a good selection of books in their own book-sharing club? They also have chess boards and other games for whenever you are bored. The teas and the pies are so tasty. Could somebody take me on a date here? :)
Eman replying to a comment from Will / June 28, 2012 at 04:01 pm
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Will, Why go to Zocalo when Nona's is across the street? Why even open a restaurant. Who needs more food. Lets all just stay home and surf the reviews and leave snippy commets.
Anonymous / October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am
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Well, today my friend and I went to this cafe. The tea was quite delicious, though, the hipster running the cash register was creepy and asked far too many personal questions...
for example, he would ask us "So, you are in high school?" then five minutes later say "you two are adorable, which middle school do you attend?" and when we went to order some take out tea, he asked "how's elementary school?". When we were walking out the door, he quickly commented "thanks for bringing in your smiles!"
He is probably just a little too friendly, but we recommend that if you are to run a business (or work at one) please do not come on too harshly to costumers.
Thanks for reading our opinions and we are not trying to be negative. It was a fun[ish] experience.
:)
Jenn mackie / October 22, 2012 at 10:06 am
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I went to GT BT last week and was talking to the owners Juan and Tahirah..
Apparently Tahirah has taken over partnership with Juan recently. As Marco was getting busy with side projects and work..
I've been here a few times over the year and the place has changed a lot..
I love it! It just keeps getting better and better I'm always surprised at what's new to eat or what event is taking place there..
Juan says "Tahirah brings in the balance and her femine touch.."
.she is a warm, kind and eccletic woman who runs around baking and making food for the tea shop..You can see how much she puts her heart into what she does there.
Just by seeing the changes that have occurred over the past few months..
Apparently there are still some more renovations coming... Tahirah says "it's fun to watch something grow step by step..it's like trying to finish a painting..taking the time to carefully work out the details"
Anyways these two are friendly owners the place has got charm and uniqueness all about it..
And the food is tasty and healthy made from organic ingredients.. The tea is beautiful I had a fragrant jasmine green tea.
Come here to chill out and be yourself.... a humble real deal down to earth hub..
With might I add ...spontaneous late night dancing after 10 pm on Friday or Saturday nights... Haven't had the chance yet , but Expecting to in the near future.



Eddie / March 2, 2013 at 12:58 am
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Very nice tea store with unique concept. But your selling loose teas decoration need some improvement. Try deco with proper loose teas label tag, tea cups, tea pot and stand nice tea showcase. It's look more better for your business.
Mimi wright / May 27, 2013 at 03:52 am
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if you haven't noticed this place doesn't follow a "formula" like most places do ...but if you go in enough you may be able to appreciate how much it's always changing... These people are more ahead of the times then anyone could notice .....hardly hipsters.....I would say gypsy pioneers ...there is something brewing in that place a concept, a feeling, something on the brink of new ways of looking at our community hubs....these people are patiently building something...
Something unexpected ...I think that is what I love the most is the suspense of what they will do or make next.....from punk shows ..flamenco dancers...language conversation groups ...blues shows ....art of local artists on the wall ...and to mention great food and drink ...this is not your average tea shop folks!
....this is a creative living art instillation....but those of you might not get it if your hipsters or trendy ...conformists....I wish you wide open eyes!!! And the great appreciation for autonomy .....these are the kind of people who unknowingly start revolutions just by being naturally who they are....these kind of people create the new "era" ....I Love GT BT...keep on doing what your doing...
Dimitri Solakofski / August 6, 2013 at 09:34 am
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In my opinion, Good Times-Bad Times, should be thought of as Good Times Best Times. Having met the owners (Juan & Tahirah) in depth on Sunday July 14, as I was participating in my brother in-laws Birthday celebration. He was having his nearest and dearest join him in some playback theatre. David Jan Jurasek, owner/operator of Worry to Wonder decided to hold his gathering at GTBT. It was a hot evening that night and it was amazing being part of this unusual experience. I say unusual because to someone like myself, playback theatre is a stretch for the imagination, yet so rewarding that once you have experienced it, you cannot see any other way of expressing oneself. One of the highlights to that evening was watching one of the owners (Juan) participate in the playback theatre. Finding out after the event that he had never participated in playback before, was inspiring to myself, as to how much expression a person is capable of, if their heart is in the right place, and Juan's is definitely there. The night proceeded well and people kept cool drinking fresh flavoured drinks on ice, and they had a tasty short menu of prepared food. Though I did not partake in any food that night I have since and have enjoyed everything that has entered into my digestion system. Later before singing happy birthday to David, Tahirah came out with two cakes she made for him. She made jokes about the shapes of the two cakes and what they looked like, and the crowd reciprocated with laughter. Honestly the whole evening was like a mild buzz of excitement and pleasure, and for my country speed of excitement I was mesmorized by all the expression of love and uniqueness shared by all. After having a piece of the cake Tahirah made, I told her I would write a poem to describe the experience of biting into that cake, which in my opinion was a similar effect as in the matrix when the Meryl Vingin was showing Neo,Morpheus and Brittny the effects of causality, by showing a woman bite into a piece of cake. Demonstrating Cause and effect.
As I have not been able to contact either owners for several weeks, I will share my poem that describes my sensation of this cake as it melted in my mouth. I cannot remember what Tahirah called it, but it it was chocolate and moist with a chocolate ganosh. For weeks afterwards I thought of marketing this cake and exploiting its richness, so it could reach the palettes of many more cake lovers. I only speak so eloquently about this cake because I have baked for 1/2 my life and this was something else. My Poem:
-Black witch, Magic witch
What is that you hold
What have you collected and cooked
Let it be told
-Black witch, White witch
I see you through my eye
A flame is burning through my soul
And leaves me here to die
-Black witch, Magic witch
Poison me tonight
Drown me in your magic spells
And watch me lose the fight
-Black witch, White witch
I surrender myself to you
Be it heaven, or be it hell
This night will have me do
-Black witch, Magic witch
I am in your weave
Trapped like prey without a say
And I will never leave.

All this from a piece of cake, I know, but if you participated in this magical evening of sharing love and experiences at GTBT you would understand what this place is about. If I could share the amazing way Juan and Tahirah share themselves with their community, not just from a business perspective, but from a heart sharing perspective, I would have to say, that these two are setting the new rhythem of the heartbeat in this area, and there isn't a business standing that couldn't learn something from these two. I wish them all the success they deserve, and encourage them to continue to express their creativity and love and to continue to grow. For my experience of this one night, I will have to rate them an 11 out of ten. Perfect in the truth of Expression.
Dimitri Solakofski / August 6, 2013 at 09:36 am
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The best of both sides of a coin
Joel / October 5, 2013 at 03:00 pm
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Is this place closed? Last five or six times I've passed by it seems to be shuttered and not just on Monday.
Kosmos Sol / February 18, 2014 at 01:46 pm
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GTBT re-opened in January, with cafe hours from 8am-2pm Tuesday-Friday. Evenings and weekends are geared toward community events, gatherings, discussions, showcases and dance parties. Keep up with events on the Facebook page, 'GTBT Presents: The South Triangle Tea Shop' (www.facebook.com/teatoronto)

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