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Rustic Owl

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on January 31, 2012

Rustic Owl Cafe TorontoRustic Owl is a 2,000-square-foot gallery and cafe new to Bloor and Dovercourt.

While many indie cafes of late like to throw a few paintings on the wall and call themselves a "showroom," Rustic Owl has a bona fide gallery space, which is separated from the rest of the cafe by a pulled black curtain.

Rustic Owl TorontoThe space was an NDP campaign office before Stacey Collrin got her hands on it. She then gutted the interior, ripped out the carpets, and designed and constructed her own bar and tables.

I meet Stacey as she's single-handedly preparing about 10 coffee and lunch orders, and am immediately struck with an overwhelming sense of inferiority. While I was at home playing Mario Kart on N64 in unwashed pajamas, 25-year-old Stacey was independently preparing for the launch of her own business after eight years of event planning. And building her own bar, at that!

Rustic Owl Cafe"Right now," it's just me," Stacey says as she prepares a latte ($3.10/$3.60) and Americano ($2.30/$3.10) for a couple of women sitting by the window. "I have an assistant come in and help me sometimes, but for now, I'm here 11 hours a day."

Rustic Owl CafeIt's clear that Stacey eventually will need some help as the door keep opening and orders continue to flow in. For now, the cafe offers an assortment of baked goods from Desmond & Beatrice, fresh sandwiches including cured salami ($6.75) and BLT on a bagel ($4.75) prepared to order by Stacey, and a variety of coffee and tea drinks including Rustic Owl's signature pumpkin latte made with pumpkin puree.

Rustic Owl CafeI give Stacey a chance to catch up on orders while I go explore by the back gallery space. With a lone bench centred in the middle, the walls carry a variety of sketches and paintings by many artists who are part of SASS (Spontaneous Art Show Surprise), though Stacey says she's always looking for more, as long as she has the wall space. The room will also be used for events, including movie nights and video premieres planned for the near future, as well as a scheduled coming book convention.

The coffee is an organic and fair trade Mountain View blend, and I ask Stacey to prepare me an Americano. Here, the water is added to the espresso (for the sticklers who need to know) and soy milk or almond milk can be substituted for any drink for an additional $0.50 or $0.75 respectively. My drink has a pleasant medium intensity and fruity undertone — good for kicking back and enjoying a book (Rustic Owl's raison d'ĂȘtre) rather than a morning jolt. Free WiFi should be coming to the cafe soon, and though there's no liquor license (yet), though Stacey says it's on her mind.

Rustic Owl is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

2012131-rustic-owl-owner.jpg2012131-chalkboard-rustic-owl.jpg2012131-rustic-owl-ext.jpgPhotos by Erin Jones



madisonelliott / January 31, 2012 at 03:18 pm
where did you get your coffee cups??
Aaron / January 31, 2012 at 03:41 pm
Finally! I'm so glad to hear about this place...Bloor/Dovercourt has a serious lack of nice cafes. Can't wait to try it out.
Colleen / January 31, 2012 at 03:54 pm
I am so happy about this!! I have lived in the area for years and there is dire need for independant cafes in the neighborhood - I'll be stopping by on my next day off for sure.
Evan / January 31, 2012 at 04:04 pm
I'll have to stop by next time I'm around, looks like a really well thought out endeavour.
Evan / January 31, 2012 at 04:04 pm
I think those cups are Pillivuyt btw
Brock / January 31, 2012 at 04:21 pm
I met the owner Stacey and chatted a little with her, she is super nice!

It definitely has some kinks to work out and she definitely will need help considering how quickly it is becoming popular.

I can't wait until it has Wi-Fi and then I will live there! Looks like a great venue to rent out for events too if that is at all possible, maybe once it gets a liquor license.
Aim Coffy / January 31, 2012 at 07:53 pm
The Coffee cups were hand painted by Bushra.
Sidra / January 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm
yay rustic owl! in addition to the cups, she also painted the tree-lined facade. more of bushra's work can be seen at
Patrick / February 1, 2012 at 12:07 am
Went in here last week and was really impressed. There's a lack of coffee places around Bloor/Dovercourt aside from Saving Gigi, which I'm not a huge fan of (unfriendly staff, expensive drinks and dirty surroundings) and so this place is a great addition to the neighbourhood. The service (I was served by the owners sister) was really great and quick and mentioned that they are going to try to start doing live music in the gallery space at the back. Coffee was good too.
Heather / February 1, 2012 at 06:22 pm
I love this place. Great lattes, yummy food (yay gluten free & vegan option) and friendly service.
Kira / February 1, 2012 at 09:51 pm
This cafe looks amazing! I will definitely be coming by the next time I'm in Toronto.
D / February 11, 2012 at 05:43 pm
I am here now and so excited that this cafe is in my area!! will come here more often. food and atmosphere are excellent. Can't wait for live music. only downside is that it is FREEZING!! love the warm cookies though....
Richard / February 16, 2012 at 02:00 pm
@ Patrick. I highly disagree with you regarding your comments about Saving Gigi. I find the drink prices to be less expensive than starbucks (1.75 for a medium coffee with tax). You can't even get a small (short) coffee at Starbucks for that much. And their Americanos and lattes are also inexpensive. (2.50 with tax for an Americano and 3.00 with tax for a regular latte). That is at or below average cafe prices. So as for your high prices myth, that has been debunked. And on the staff side, I find the staff always makes time to talk to me, even if they are very busy. They make an effort to get to know regular customers and always ask how they are doing. The place is always full of happy customers, who return because they are given great service and quality beverages and food. Their Sandwhiches are amazing and a special treat in themselves. The staff will even bring the drinks and food out to you, even if you're on the patio on a busy summer day. they will also let you pay afterwards if you want. on top of this, they have the best vinyl collection of records anywhere, and they are always spinning a wide variety of great records. They have recently started to screen fun films in the evening on wednesdays and are now hosting evening concerts for local artists. The owner even organized an 8 venue, 35 artist FREE folk festival last year that was a lot of fun and a real treat to the community. I'm not sure what more you expect from a cafe that clearly meets and exceeds standards for a local cafe.
Michelle / February 21, 2012 at 03:27 pm
I live in the neighbourhood so was delighted when she opened. I have been there four times, coffee good, muffins and cookies delighful. Sadly when I was there today Stacey seems to be a tad overwhelmed and has lost focus on the critical piece of a successful business - THE CUSTOMER. I ordered a latte and muffin, the muffin I received right away but I never did get my latte. After reading the paper and waiting for 15 minutes while she spoke on the phone, talked with a gentleman washing dishes, took more orders, and made coffee for a few other people I gave up and asked to have my coffee to go. Her answer was less than stellar when she realized that she had forgotten me entirely and she made no overt attempt at an apology so I just asked for my money back and left. Stacey either needs to get organized, hire help or at least learn how to treat the people that will bring those daily dollars in the door.
Stacey / February 21, 2012 at 06:49 pm
In regards you the aforementioned comment, Michelle I feel as though you've exaggerated your visit today. Unfortunately, there were drink orders placed before yours. Only around 5 minutes had you waited until you decided you wanted it to go. I had then asked which order you had placed, so I could use a to-go cup instead. Weather or not I had made a quick business order call, this did not disrupt service. Not so sure how you had gathered that I had forgotten your order.
Ryan A. / February 21, 2012 at 08:15 pm
I hate to see any bad press written about an independently run businesses. Stacey seems to always be working as fast as humanly possible, its quite impressive. I've been in a few times when a wave of customers come in, and I expect my drink to take a few minutes. Just as I would any place I order a drink that is hand made and steamed. I find it really convenient that she offers I have a seat while she prepares it and personally delivers it to me.

Cheers, Ryan
Michelle / February 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm
Reply to Stacey I did not exaggerate my experience at the cafe today. You know Stacey that it was 15 minutes because I finished my muffin and read the entire paper. You also know that you served others before me and it was obvious that you forgot my order. It was not that busy, I have been in when it was busier and I do not mind waiting. When I approached the counter to find out why I didn't have my coffee you had a golden opportunity to apologize and move on. You chose not to apologize so I chose to write about the experience so you can learn from it. Perhaps writing down the orders, telling people that you have 4 orders before theirs, apologizing and acknowledging human error, smiling, and NOT downplaying your mistake would be a start.

RICHARD / February 22, 2012 at 11:31 am
@Michelle. I heard Stacey placing a bakery order on the phone and saw her work quickly on orders. I saw you sitting at the round table that seats five. You seemed annoyed when you walked in. I know I was there for 7 minutes before you rudely spoke to Stacey, (kept an eye on the time as I was waiting for someone), and you came in after me. I understand that something can be learned from this but I can't understand why older people can't stand it when younger people do something that works. Although I know Stacey will probably bend over backwards to make everyone feel comfortable, and since reviews are for the customers and not for the business,and can be used to better service, I would like to say that I think in my opinion that you were not there an unreasonably long time and you cheerfully got your money back as per your request, I saw no reason to continue this with your comment because you didn't have the time to wait, I appreciate your heads up but I respectfully disagree with your take on things.
michelle / February 22, 2012 at 05:30 pm
It is fascinating to watch people attack rather than accept responsibility and learn from it when service is an issue and an apology is such a simple matter. To be successful as a small independent business you have to rely on repeat customers and word of mouth. Rustic Owl has a lot of positive things going for it, good food, coffee, location and Stacey's desire to do well. I had been there 3 times before my negative experience so would be considered a repeat customer. I took the time to write a comment but how many people come in and perhaps do not return because of issues. In business you have to accept that you can not be perfect all the time but you have to ensure that the customer still has a positive experience. Anyone can come through that door and anyone can walk out the door but each customer can help grow your business if you learn the art of service.
Lance / February 23, 2012 at 05:37 pm
I really like the art. The coffee is ok but a good deal because you can sit in the cafe for hours and study for the cost of a coffee. If I really want great coffee I go to the Coffee Pocket further east on Christie and Bloor. The owner seems ok but the other girl that works there is really friendly. The service is really slow and sometimes the coffee is not very hot but who cares when you are studying. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there but it is close to my place.
Leah / March 5, 2012 at 04:42 pm
My husband Trent and I love Rustic Owl!!! Great service, great atmosphere: we feel really lucky to have this place in our neighborhood. The fact that it doubles as an art gallery is wonderful. Also, that couch in the back is super comfy. Keep up the awesome work Stacey!
suzan / April 8, 2012 at 06:47 pm
My 7 years old son has major gluten allergy and I see you serve gluten free options.
would like to visit but no clue about your gf items. Please help
Stacey / April 9, 2012 at 02:48 pm
Hi Suzan,

We have gluten free macroon treats, as well as chili made daily

Thanks for inquiring!

BritishBoi / April 12, 2012 at 10:09 am
Just returned from canada And found this cafe, Which i highly recomend the staff were great and the food was out of this world. 10/10 for service.
Adam F / April 25, 2012 at 10:44 am
This place is pretty amazing, I stumbled across it last week since I may be moving into the area soon.

Espresso was good, service was great, both people behind the bar were super friendly.

Art hung on the walls is really interesting
David / April 25, 2012 at 08:48 pm
The new menu items are scrumptious. I still like the original chili, though, but the choices are getting greater. Great work, keep it up.
bryson / May 4, 2012 at 04:44 pm
Ive been going to the Rustic owl for a few weeks now, around once a week and I make an effort to try something new everytime thaT i go, from the menu.

I always leave more than pleased, and happily served.

Sienna + James / May 20, 2012 at 02:03 pm
We love the Rustic Owl!!

So glad to have the cafe in our area
Alex / June 5, 2012 at 06:03 pm
So super glad this place is in my neighbourhood. Great service, coffee, space, and art. It's also really great to be able to go somewhere with a lot of outlets, especially since my laptop's battery craps out so often. A rare find in cafes these days.

Michelle (not the angry one) / June 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm
Does this place have wifi yet? The blog says it is arriving soon and I will also be arriving soon to the area and need a place to work out of. If this place has Wifi, I'll be there constantly! 25 and owning a successful cafe in an area that needs it - very excited to come by.
Stacey / June 10, 2012 at 01:33 pm
Hi Michelle,

Last few months we had wifi with an inconsistent corporate provider, BUT we just switched to a great provider. So, in short , yes we have wifi. And welcome to the area!
Nicolas / June 10, 2012 at 08:33 pm
Ive been going to the Rustic Owl the past few months. Pleased with the lattes, as well tea selections. I decided to give the food a go, I tried the roasted chicken sandwich which came with peppers. I was really impressed! I will be eating here more often. The girl behind the counter was really friendly.

- Nicolas
Jessica / June 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm
Always a pleasure to hang out at this cafe. Its warm and inviting
Katie / June 21, 2012 at 12:24 am
I saw a show tonight at the rustic owl. I had a great time, I really appreciate this cafe is in my area. The owner is really sweet and we got to chat a bit,

I hope all the best! And I will be returning soon
Keith. / July 4, 2012 at 10:57 am
This place is awesome, local art, good coffee, great vibe!!
Sean Kramer / July 6, 2012 at 04:06 pm
Mmmmmm Chicken and roasted vegetable sandwich! Had it the other day

10/10 also with fruit!
Danielle / August 17, 2012 at 01:42 pm
Went there for my first time yesterday evening. Had a great experience, the atmosphere is tops. Will definitely be back.
Kath / August 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm
What an interesting place! Great food & beverages; friendly staff; interesting artwork; a comfortable place to go on your own or meet up with a friend. I love the atmosphere. A stunning art display in the gallery, which will be there until Sept 1st & I understand there'll be more to come.
Brandon / August 21, 2012 at 10:11 am
I came across this cafe during the Bloor arts festival over the weekend. They have art hung on the walls and the space is cozy, large, but cozy. I guess it's hard to explain, but it has a good atmosphere.

girlfriend and I ordered brunch and she had the brie and avocado sandwich. We both left really happy and will definitely be coming back soon
Candice / October 3, 2012 at 09:50 pm
I love this place!! Just moved in the area for school. I will be here often. Great food
Eric / December 2, 2012 at 04:49 pm
Went to the rustic owl for lunch today. I had the chicken sandwich with spicy mayo on it.

It was really really good and I will definitely be coming back

The americano was great too!
Jenna Huges / December 10, 2012 at 05:12 pm
We brunches at this cafe over the weekend and fell in love. Great vibe, friendly staffers!
Jess / December 11, 2012 at 03:20 pm
Slow service and ok coffee, nothing special
I give it - 2 out of 5
Owen James / December 11, 2012 at 09:21 pm
Came for brunch with my wife and friends on the weekend, thought we'd try somewhere new.
Big mistake, worst brunch I think my guests, my wife and myself have ever had.
It took forever to get our food and when it finally came it was cold and boring.
We were hungry so we just ate it anyway' instead of sending it back and waiting another hour and trying to find another place close by.

Seeing as it was my choice, i felt lame for picking this place
We won't be coming back here, neither will our friends, that's for sure!!!
Matt / December 18, 2012 at 05:09 am
I have lived on Dovercourt Road (in-between College and Bloor) now for three years. My biggest regret of living here was not going into the Rustic Owl sooner. I only went in this passed September by random occurrence of doing laundry up there. Usually, I do it on college. The food, drinks and above all the SERVICE is absolutely amazing. Probably, I will be deemed another fake person and at sometimes I do question my very existence. But, I am real. I like the Rustic Owl because I can actually do work there (I am TA at York U)which means dreadful amounts of marking and e-mailing. I enjoy reading there too. Sometimes I find myself going there twice a day because I enjoy the drinks and SERVICE so much. Keep up the great work and interesting atmosphere and I'll keep coming back and recommending the place to my friends.
James G / December 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Went there for the first time to meet up with some friends who also work and live in the area and my first thoughts were it's kind of a cozy looking place. To bad I had probably one of the worst americanos ever ! It seemed watered down, tasteless and it took forever for them to make it. My friends weren't impressed with their orders either and how long it took to get our coffee's. What a waste of time !
Anik / December 30, 2012 at 07:42 pm
Brunch was great today, keep up the great work guys! Nice meeting you Stacey, I will be back when I'm in town again
mike simms / January 1, 2013 at 06:57 pm
Im really glad this cafe was open today for New Years day, and we came across it. The bruch was really great and the special coffees my friends an i loved. I suggest the mocha latte
Elizabeth / January 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm
The cafe seems contrived and fake, decorated to look like a nice rusitc place with art hanging and other objects but really it was just a complete waste of time and money, should've just gone to a hortons or another coffee chain. Would've been faster service and better coffee believe it or not.
Keep walking
Chris K / January 6, 2013 at 09:40 pm
hahaha enjoy your 'hortons' elizabeth, I'll stick to the Rustic cafe. Obviously if you like chain coffee you dont know good coffee. There are tonnes of independant cafes in toronto I think for the most part they are doing a damn good job. Chain coffee slums can keep you.

Barb / January 12, 2013 at 02:43 pm
wow, what a let down
slow service for stale food and a so so latte
Brad / January 13, 2013 at 04:34 pm
Brunch today was the best. I had a sausage omlete. Everyone who works at this cafe is super friendly also. I would recommend for sure
Val / May 4, 2013 at 01:38 pm
Loved it! Had the coconut chai latte (which is a real latte, not like the chains which make it with syrup for the flavour) and the sausage and cheddar($9) and the goat cheese and grilled veggies($8) sandwich. The sandwiches were served with a salad. Everything was delicious! The service was slow for the items but well worth it. Will definitely return.
Nick / July 30, 2014 at 01:39 pm
Went here on July 29th and really wanted to like it. The atmosphere is pleasant as were the staff and the artwork on the walls is really funky. We asked for two mochas and unfortunately they were undrinkable. We think the barista forgot to add the coffee so the resulting drink tasted like watered down cocoa with a bit of milk added in. We ended up throwing these out and heading down the road to The Common instead. We would have loved to give this cafe a high rating but unfortunately the most important aspect was severly lacking. Two thumbs down from me.
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