The Mascot opened last month in the huge corner space at Queen and Elm Grove that has been vacant ever since The Shop Custom T-Shirts moved out about a year ago. Gone is the bright pink exterior and the obnoxious signage and in its place is a coat of freshly painted black and a more subdued aesthetic. It's a big space compared to other Parkdale cafes but that's because a good chunk of the interior is dedicated to showcasing art.
Master carpenter and prolific graffiti artist Kwest is currently showing his stunning graffiti inspired woodwork for the month of May. And he's also is responsible for the massive custom bar, on which a vintage La Victoria Arduino sits. Chances are you can pull up a Victorian style armchair and chat him up, as he's frequently hanging around the cafe.
The Mascot is run by long time friends and business partners Eddie Chan, Mike Krupica and Rico Estoy, who all live in and have a genuine love for the neighbourhood. They named it the Mascot because they felt the space could be just that for Parkdale, a place the community can rally around. And there is quite the wide appeal: old meets new, flexibility meets purpose, art meets function.
It's still a bit of a work in progress but the owners plan to shift the direction of the space to fit the needs of the neighborhood over time. In the coming months the Mascot will play host to film screenings and bi-monthly charity events for Grounds for Health.
Seating is limited for a cafe, but the intent is to keep it open and airy. And you can't help but be drawn to the gallery side while you wait for your espresso. There is free WiFi, and even high fives from the staff, if you're so inclined.
The vintage espresso machine is a conversation piece but it can be known to pull an inconsistent shot from time to time. Regardless, the people behind the counter are well versed in its finicky ways and do their best to compensate. The machine is also quite slow, but that fits in with the attitude of the Mascot. It takes you back to a time when it wasn't such a big deal to slow down and wait a bit, all the while enjoying yourself.
Espresso, Americano and similar single shot drinks cost $2.50, while it's $3.50 for a latte and $2.75 for a Cortado. Sweets and savory snacks are brought in from OMG Bakery on Dundas West. Cupcakes are $1.50 and stuffed Foccacia is $3.50. There's also loose leaf tea courtesy of Steve Smith Tea (formerly of the Tazo fame). Try the hibiscus or intense peppermint for $2.50.
The Mascot is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, with the potential for extended hours in the summer.