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Cafes

Roncy's Bean

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on December 3, 2011

roncys beanRoncy's Bean is not simply a new spot from which to grab a latte in Roncesvalles Village, but also a sort of mini-triumph for some of the people in the community. The corner cafe at Roncesvalles and Neepawa avenues occupies the former home of a not-so-welcome Second Cup, which seemed to stick out from the independently-owned Polish shops, boutique gift stores, hair salons, and other mom and pop's. Of course, there was a Facebook campaign to boycott the chain cafe, as well as plenty of letters delivered to City Hall in its regard. For whatever reason, the Second Cup did shut down a while back and in its stead is Roncy's Bean.

roncys beanThe new shop finally took the paper off its windows this past Thursday, and the opening couldn't come soon enough says manager Tony. "People kept coming in during construction and we'd have to say, 'No, sorry we're not open yet!'" he says. "And even still, people were knocking on the windows to see when we would be open."

roncys beanTony tells me that the cafe's owner, Dan Lajeunesse, is a local real estate agent who just couldn't pass up on the great location. "I said to him, 'Dan, you've just got to have it.'" Tony says he and Dan are no strangers to cafe culture and wanted to create a space for everyone.

roncys beanI suppose I've spent too much time in the shrouded West Queen West cafes with refurbished vintage furniture and Noam Chomsky books on the shelves, because I'm a little surprised to see booth seating and a flat-screen playing CP24 in the back section of Roncy's Bean. But those features do cater to wider markets, and I can see how moms on -the-go might appreciate a glimpse at the headlines as they pick up their morning coffees.

roncys beanRoncy's Bean offers a fair assortment of baked goods (from "local suppliers," says Tony), about a dozen loose leaf tea varieties ($2.25), fresh-pressed orange juice ($2.59), and coffee drinks made using Reunion Island beans. The cafe also makes its own gelato ($3.49/$4.39/$5.00), which, now, is limited to about seven flavours (tiramisu, hazelnut, vanilla, etc.), but will grow to 20 or more in the springtime, when the side patio on Neepawa will hopefully be licensed and open.

roncys beanI order my usual Americano ($1.90) after briefly considering an Affogato ($5.40), but the wind blowing outside solidified my decision. I was pleased to find soy milk actually available at the milk and sugar station, since too few cafes offer it without customers having to ask. My drink has a nice, bold flavour--though a bit of a sour note on the finish--but, granted, the cafe (and baristas, likely) are still working out the kinks. Kinks or not, it seems Roncy is more than pleased to have its own new cafe.

roncys beanroncys beanPhotos by Nick Warzin

Discussion

59 Comments

Johnny / December 3, 2011 at 10:05 am
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I feel like I've missed something. The neighbourhood kicks out a locally owned coffee shop that serves locally sourced baked goods and snacks, because they happen to be partnered with the most successful Canadian coffee franchisor (well known for supporting local communities and tailoring their shops to each neighbourhood)? In it's stead is a cafe owned by a real estate agent, serving many of the same locally sourced snacks, plus Gelato, with a big-screen TV and Second Cup cafe chairs, and this is completely and happily supported? It wasn't Starbucks or Tim Horton's; it was Second Cup, which is almost entirely operated by local owners. I honestly don't get this one and hope somebody will explain the rationale.
Michelle / December 3, 2011 at 10:11 am
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Call me a snob, but no self-respecting coffee shop puts up bad mall booth coffee themed art on their walls. There are SO many good coffee shops on Roncy, just head further south. Cherry Bomb is one of the best in the city. I wish something more unique went into this spot.
Kevin / December 3, 2011 at 10:19 am
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I agree with the above two: A one-minute walk around the corner will bring you to Coffee and All That Jazz, or two minutes in the opposite direction to the Bell Jar Café. There are so many original and creatively managed places that support a feeling of community in Roncesvalles; if someone wanted to feel like they were in a coffee shop on King and Bay, they should take the 504 streetcar twenty minutes east.
Laura / December 3, 2011 at 10:47 am
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Yeah, I agree that the driving out of a business seems harsh, for the reasons
Johnny states. Supporting certain businesses that a community likes is one thing but driving out one is just kind of creepy, especially when the street has Sobey's, Starbucks, Timothy's, banks and so on. I don't know that franchises are evil. In many ways they support people who want to have their own business by providing a formula that has been worked out to serve customers needs through trial, error, investment and years of work. Not everyone wants to risk losing their shirt building a business from scratch, and for those people franchises are a viable option. Assuming that Second Cup was a franchise, I can assume that someone bought that location in hopes of being part of a vibrant, diverse and welcoming neighbourhood, only to be driven out at great financial loss, which I find sad and not very Roncy-ish.

However, all that said, this new business seems like a positive addition and I wish them all the best. I love this neighbourhood and am proud to be a part of it.
anon replying to a comment from Michelle / December 3, 2011 at 11:03 am
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Really?! Cherry Bomb?! That place is cold and the staff aren't very friendly. I've been in there so many times and I rarely get a smile or a hello. Sorry to say it, but if you're going to throw stones... don't trip on someone else trying to open up their own business.
Steve / December 3, 2011 at 11:28 am
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I don't really see how an additional coffee shop on Roncy is a local truimph or a valued addition to the neighbourhood. I walked by the empty space for almost 2 years and was hoping something interesting would eventually open up. Roncy is a great place,but a total dead zone after 7pm. Some kind of sandwich, burrito,or roti takeaway would have been more welcomed by me.
Laura / December 3, 2011 at 11:37 am
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The comment about the art makes me think it's a great opportunity for the owner to showcase local artists to go more towards a unique atmosphere.

Kevin is right that there are lots of great places to get coffee in the area, but it's also getting busier and I'm sure there's room for another place. The trick for any new business is carving our your niche and finding your client base. I'm sure we'll see Roncy's Bean settle in nicely and be another great place people can hang out on Roncy.
I can't wait to try this place and I'm happy to see such a cute place on a corner that was so uninspiring for so long. I'm sure I'll be a frequent customer.
PrinceRonces / December 3, 2011 at 11:44 am
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uh, this place looks more like a Second Cup than the Second Cup did.. I had no problem with that place, cozy seating, patio on the side..

Big Screen tv with CP24?
what a bunch of derps.
Also / December 3, 2011 at 11:50 am
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I also agree with Steve- more Frock, Imelda, Review, the Local etc. less hot bean water.
Rashmi / December 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm
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Roncy's Bean is awful: smells like mould, bad coffee, tacky decor, and the coffee is average. I am very disappointed.
Ben replying to a comment from Johnny / December 3, 2011 at 01:17 pm
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The Second Cup that occupied that space was a fucking mess. The owner and staff had no concept of keeping their surrounding area clean; garbage was strewn about and spilling over into the sidewalk, which attracted rats, as well as negative attention from the residents. This wasn't about kicking out a corporate entity (a Timothy's operates very successfully only a few blocks south on Roncey), it was about getting rid of a store and it's staff that didn't care to clean up after themselves. THAT was the centre of the Facebook boycott and letters to City Hall.
CP / December 3, 2011 at 01:29 pm
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That places looks like a dump in its own right. It's just not dirty... Yet. I also wouldn't knowingly spend money in a store owned by a real estate agent.
Luke / December 3, 2011 at 01:30 pm
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I popped in yesterday to check it out. I can appreciate how tempting it was for the new owners to just use the bar and fixtures that Second Cup left behind, but the result is that Roncy's Bean is indistinguishable from the old Second Cup, save for the addition of the gelato, which while delicious-looking, is out of season, and they don't offer take-out tubs of the stuff (which would be a good idea).

Time will tell if they're able to carve out their own identity on Roncy. The Second Cup was so poorly-managed and the staff treated so badly. At the least I hope Roncy's Bean are treating their staff better than their predecessor.
Sandman / December 3, 2011 at 01:33 pm
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I guess the writer wanted to invoke some emotions in this article, and, TA-DA!
The Shakes / December 3, 2011 at 02:43 pm
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I dont get all the bitching. I'm glad some of the empty storefronts are coming back to life after the brutal street construction wiped out many of the businesses on North Roncy. Fresh Collective, Scout and Roncy's Bean are great additions and certainly much better than empty storefronts and cheque cashing joints.
john / December 3, 2011 at 02:56 pm
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stupid name....
Paul / December 3, 2011 at 04:43 pm
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The author of this article misrepresents the nature of the friction between the former Second Cup and some locals (me being one of them). It was never some kind of NoLogo anti franchise thing, like the Dooneys kerfuffle in the Annex. For years, Second Cup ran a clean join on the corner, and I wasn't aware of anyone having problems with the place.

At some point, however, the managers allowed the upkeep to start deteriorating. They simply failed to keep their garbage in check, and the trash bins outside the cafe were literally overflowing, constantly. This was especially unpleasant during the summer and attracted rats--which were never a problem before.

I asked the management to clean up on several occasions as did a number of residents on Neepawa. When our requests were ignored, the Facebook campaign and letter writing began. Finally in 2009, Second Cup changed management of the place and the new manager made great strides to clean up. He confided to me that there was a lot more to clean up than just the trash bins outside. Trash problems subsided, yet, a few months later Second Cup closed up. From what I gathered from other shop owners on the block, I believe the reason Second Cup left had more to do with rent negotiations with the owner of the building than with the campaign, the letters, or the pending street construction. I'll say this: I haven't seen any rats since they left.

I welcome Roncy's Bean, and I'm sure they'll keep the place clean, like every other cafe on the strip. I stopped in today and they made me a good Americano and were super nice. I wish them well.
giorgio / December 3, 2011 at 05:16 pm
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I've been to some of the other cafes on Roncesvalles and they don't live up to the hype. I'm going to spend some money here just to counter the haters who are most likely stay at home nabob drinkers who spend hours a day posting inane commentary all over the interweb.
dnr / December 3, 2011 at 06:45 pm
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Can anyone tell me why Starbucks is not on the street? You already have a subway and sobey's why not starbucks? Keeping them out?
Sandman replying to a comment from dnr / December 3, 2011 at 07:25 pm
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Starbucks is in the area
Adam Sobolak / December 3, 2011 at 07:27 pm
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Starbucks is at the very top of Roncesvalles, in the ex-BMO in the Dundas curve.

Funny how that old more-hippie-than-hipster neighbourhood standby, Alternative Grounds, hasn't been acknowledged yet...
McRib / December 3, 2011 at 09:00 pm
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dont be dissing Nabob. better beans, better coffee. Second only to Tasters Choice in the delicious coffee category.
McRib / December 3, 2011 at 09:01 pm
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also that chick with the really long hair who used to work at the Second Cup 4-5 years ago was hot, rats or no rats.
Meowgrrl / December 3, 2011 at 09:17 pm
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It's Roncessvalles,not Roncey or Ronce or Roncii. The only good thing about all the hipsters moving is that they are leaving Queen Street West.

I will follow any proper establishment that moves to Mississauga or Etobicoke. There are only a few decent places left, such as Bennas and Cafe Polonez. When the old school places are replaced with 'nouveau smoked meat/coffee hipster bistros', it's over for me.
Pinky replying to a comment from Meowgrrl / December 3, 2011 at 10:14 pm
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Actually, it's Roncesvalles, with 1 s. But I have lived here for a decade and I have affectionately called it Roncey for a long time.

Speaking for myself, one of the things that I love about this neighbourhood is that many of the businesses are owned and run by my neighbours. I would rather support them in their "kick at the can" than some big, faceless corporation. There is a definite sense of community here that is lacking in other areas.

Yes, Roncey already has a number of excellent cafes, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for a new kid on the block. I'm going to try it out. I will reserve judgment for the product and the service - not the decor. Don't judge a book by it's cover, you know?
Ratpick replying to a comment from Meowgrrl / December 3, 2011 at 10:37 pm
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I thought I was the only one who cringed every time I heard "Roncey".

Me? I'm leaving when Tru Value closes and is replaced with ANOTHER locavore-yuppie cafe that has the requisite exposed brick, barn board, and Edison bulbs (which are notably absent from Roncy's Bean).



Shop Guy / December 4, 2011 at 02:22 am
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I don't live near Roncesvalles, but I've been following developments there for about five years because I was thinking about opening a business there. I was scared off by the road construction and felt huge empathy for the shops there. First off, change is inevitable, embrace it if you can but crying in your beer about who is more genuine a resident than someone else is pathetic. Also, why a hate for real estate agents? That's like hating lightbulb salespeople: random and also pathetic. Antipathy for folks starting up small businesses is something I can't relate to. Trashing them online does more damage than you probably imagine. Finally, businesses evolve over time and devrlop personalities, like people do. Emerging storefront operations can often seem awkward because its so much work and expense, decor decisions are sometimes dictated by tight budgets and time than other factors. If you love your community, encouraging nascent small biz folks will pay dividends when other creative biz types follow in their footsteps.
thissongismyanthem / December 4, 2011 at 11:33 am
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The "local suppliers" they mention sure looks like Costco to me. Supporting a giant corporation seems like a step back...
John / December 4, 2011 at 03:03 pm
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The coffee is terrible.
holy / December 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm
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EVERYONE!!! Chill out!

It's just a coffee shop, not a Rob Ford football team.
dim sum replying to a comment from thissongismyanthem / December 4, 2011 at 11:47 pm
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you're right. those look like the giant size Costco muffins. Or regular size to them.
LavaLove / December 5, 2011 at 09:55 am
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Shame on you people Who belittle you couldn't do.
At least the place is open and makes our village look good.
They also employed people and helping other local companies improve their business.
The negative feedback sounds more like people who fear their entry, and they should the place is amazing, clean and nice workers.

You will receive great support Roncy's Bean, your place Rocks.

JL
dvc / December 5, 2011 at 11:28 am
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I am just happy it's not a Tim Hortons or another large corporate franchise because you know there just scoping the strip right now. I welcome any independent business to give it a shot on Roncesvalles, why not? If we can hold off Roncy from looking like The Danforth for at least another 10 years we will all be happy!
Kato replying to a comment from Ben / December 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm
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I worked at the Second Cup from 2005-2007 and I promise you it was not dirty when I was there.
Kato replying to a comment from McRib / December 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm
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Haha! That is my best friend you are talking about!
caff-caff / December 5, 2011 at 05:29 pm
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That Second Cup was my default option when every other shop on Ronce was closed or too full... the revolving cast of baristas was entertaining, if you have an open mind when it comes to music and piercings... was sorry to see it closed, but I doubt the boycott was responsible... at the time several Second Cup locations closed around the city.... nice to have another option, but please work on the pastries, almost as bad as Timothy's.....
way too hot in there as well, especially at the back near the fake fireplace... the coffee was acceptable quality...
Robyn and other reviewers, would it kill you to include opening and closing hours? Seems somewhat indispensable in any review.....

Sumo / December 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm
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It looks like a second cup with cheaper/tackier art on the walls. Instead of showcasing local talent, the owner has raided the nearest home sense. The tables are clearly left over from Second Cup and overall the place feels cold.

All the baked goods definitely look like they're from costco and the coffee wasnt good.

If I want pre packaged I'll go to Starbucks.
JavaLove replying to a comment from Sumo / December 6, 2011 at 07:32 pm
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Sounds like you work at the American chain starbucks.
It's clear as day when people write things as you did either work at a different cafe or own one.
So be real with feedback. Be supportive to local business.
pipi / December 9, 2011 at 04:29 am
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I feel guilty hating the place so much; but its so hard not to. As someone who wished I could have opened in the same locale (but the rent was really high); to not get rid of the countertops, have uncomfortable furniture, and crappy art is a slap in the face to roncess peeps that demand, and deserve so much more as a new addition to the community.
pipi / December 9, 2011 at 04:36 am
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I will add that the one staff (the woman in the photo above) I interacted with was really nice, and the only reason that I might return.
RoncyFan replying to a comment from Meowgrrl / December 9, 2011 at 09:52 am
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Spelling Roncesvalles correctly is a good start if you want to comment on how the real residents of RONCYS call the street/area. I'm glad some of the old Polish shops full of meat, bad clothes and horrible service are gone!!!
I welcome any shop that is clean, new and has wonderful staff like the girl who works at RONCY'S BEAN (in the picture above). If you don't like RONCYS, don't visit.....plenty of other people love it :)
Sarah replying to a comment from anon / December 14, 2011 at 10:30 am
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I also worked at that Second Cup for 3 years and while we may have been a little rough around the edges - we were fun! Way more fun than any other coffee shop employees anywhere on Ronces. Other than Jeff at Bell Jar (who's coffee is amazing and not even in the same league as reaunion island)and Garrett when he worked at All That Jazz.
JR replying to a comment from RoncyFan / December 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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Yeah, y'know, it's great that all of the Polish businesses in this historically Polish neighbourhood are being gentrified out. The guys who worked in them didn't even have ironic mustaches!!

ps. Note how every comment calling out negative commenters involves two short capitalized words with no space (i.e. RoncyFan, JavaLove, LavaLove, etc)
Mack / December 17, 2011 at 11:34 am
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Sadly, this place feels like it belongs in a bad mall. It's rather amazing that so much effort can be put into making something so generic. I don't need barn board or baristas with beards to enjoy a coffee spot, but every ounce of this place oozes boring franchise, whether it technically is or not. I'll take the Belljar a short walk away on Dundas.
Sean / January 23, 2012 at 07:37 pm
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Their WiFi gets a HiFi.

Super fast, and all of the people working there seem HAPPY as well as nice. I'd take a nice real estate agent as an employer over half the miserable people dissing other people's efforts here :)

Dang the haters. Enjoy life a little.

And may I suggest, have a decaf, and while you're at it, ponder why you did nothing for that space while someone else took all the risk......

Critics!
Jeremy / January 26, 2012 at 07:06 pm
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What's their phone #?
I can't find any contact info for these guys.
db / February 1, 2012 at 01:38 pm
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always good time here !!! ^_^
Lisa replying to a comment from db / February 20, 2012 at 06:39 pm
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Always the best time here... great coffee and great friendly staff..Heather even took the time to get to know us personally....Will be a long term customer for sure... All of the staff I work with at The Westerly up the street agree aswell.... :-)
jaydee / February 24, 2012 at 09:19 am
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Maybe the FB boycott should have been directed towards the owner of the building who allowed it to deteriorate. Commercial leases have provisions for Landlord's to oblige tenants to keep the premises along with the exterior in a clean manner. But when the owner is the same as the owner of the premises once tenanted by Abstract Tree a few doors down, what do you expect? The man couldn't care less. It has been left empty and desolate looking for many years because he does not look after his properties. Mr Landlord, please clean up your properties & have a professional lease them out for you.
Jade / April 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm
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Coffee is BAD
Potbelly / April 11, 2012 at 08:34 am
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hey Roncy's bean

Thank you for being so amazingly nice and serving a wonderdful cup of coffee.

You're exactly what we needed in our area, a coffee shop with life.

Ron
ghoulie / June 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm
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Worked at the old SC since it opened in 2000 and stayed until the new managers came. The kids I worked with did their best to keep the place as top notch as we could under the circumstances. Though I wasn't there at the end, a lot of the garbage was also due to local yokels dumping 'their' garbage as well. Sure we had piercings, tattoos and personality - but from cardboard cutouts that I see behind the counters these days, it makes me cringe when you know the kids aren't having fun. Our boss was a great guy. Too bad the landlord decided to get greedy and charge ridiculous rent.

However, I do wish the Roncy's Beans the best in all their future endeavors.
Graham Bolton / September 11, 2012 at 10:39 am
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The Roncy Bean is not supported by the neighbourhood and we are currently engaged in attempting to have the results of a neighbourhood referendum rejecting their license to opperate a Terrace on Neepawa Ave. upheld. The cafe has been operating a Terrace without a license since the referendum and the same problems as occured with the Second Cup are occurring again. I encourage all to boycott Roncy Bean until the terrace is closed. Besides their coffee isn't all that good.
Michael Crackers / December 19, 2012 at 11:46 am
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Graham Bolton, you sound like an awful human being.
Hans / January 24, 2013 at 07:56 pm
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I gotta say, as somebody who lives nearby I spend a fair bit of time at all the cafes along Roncesvalles, and Roncy’s Bean is far and away my favourite. The staff are positive and seem happy, the wi-fi is actually reliable, the seating is actually much more comfortable than most of the other cafes, and they always have diverse and interesting treats and eats if you’re in the mood. (unlike the standard bagel-cookie-biscotti mix that everywhere else seems to stock) The clientele are respectful of each other and there’s just a much nicer, laid back vibe than in any of the other cafes I go to. I usually alternate for a change of scenery, but Roncy’s Bean is definitely my favourite. Oh, and in the summer, it’s the one café that is actually a refuge from wasps: it’s not that hard to keep wasps out of your establishment and I don’t know why other cafes don’t! I actually went running half-screaming from Alternative Grounds once; they leave their doors open and basically are half-overrun by the things. Anyway. Friendly people, no pretentious nonsense, and a comfortable spot. Incidentally I don’t know why people are complaining about the art; they seem to alternate between different local artists all the time, which is actually great. Sure I dislike some but I really like others. That’s what art’s about. Anyway kudos to the owners (and staff) – keep doing what you’re doing! Oh, and I was *delighted* when the patio appeared! Who wouldn’t be?!
sammy / June 6, 2013 at 07:22 am
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i heard that i should come for a great cup coffee and the great staff. A smile is everything to me and a good cup of coffee so i did what a great coffee the staff make you feel like your sitting in your own kitchen but with someone who makes it for you and makes your day i'll be back today and tomorrow's
Elizabeth .J / June 6, 2013 at 07:40 am
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what a great place the coffee the staff oh i cant forget the muffin banana yum yum yum try and you will taste the greatness my son loved it not the coffee but the muffin the juice was his choice drink we will be back.:)
diane / June 6, 2013 at 07:49 am
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when I come to Toronto this is the place to bring my friends FOR a good cup COFFEE and for a great time BINGO lol
sam replying to a comment from sammy / June 6, 2013 at 08:00 am
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was in T.O stop in at this cafe to check it out it was nice gave me some thought i liked it when i get back home i'm going to tell my customers about this place i went to and i like. make sure to stop by and try the coffee its good but just remember mine is better lol the staff was great that too is what makes a good cup of coffee. so now Roncy's is the hot spot for me tell them Sam say's hi and you can get a free smile :)

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