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Cumberland Cinema to become Nespresso outlet

Posted by Chris Bateman / May 8, 2012

Cumberland Cinema Facade LeasedThe Cumberland Four - the former home of an Alliance and Cineplex brand movie house - will be "extensively redeveloped" from its existing cinema configuration so it can host a sprawling Nespresso coffee equipment store and cafe, according to Jordan Karp, the real estate agent that brokered the move.

The theatre closed Sunday after the landlord served Cineplex notice on their lease.

Under the still-secret designs, the existing concrete wall facing Cumberland Street (shown above) will be torn down and replaced by a 45-foot, all-glass facade. Inside, the theatre will be completely gutted and redesigned to provide a better layout for retail and hospitality. The work will start in June and take just over a year once the necessary approval process is complete.

Nespresso has yet to officially confirm that it has leased the property, but we're expecting word later today. The company, part of Nestle, currently runs 270 combined cafe and retail spaces in 50 countries around the world, including a smaller "coffee boutique" at Queen and Yonge.

Rumours that the theatre would be demolished and replaced by condos seem to be unfounded but the extent of the renovations might upset many people fond of the well-known art-house cinema. How do you feel about the arrival of Nespresso in Yorkville? Will you visit the coffee shop when it's finished?

UPDATE: 16:19

After speaking on the phone with Jordan Karp from the real estate company handling the move a few more details are available about alterations to the theatre. It seems the most striking element will be the fully re-worked glass facade that will allow a full view into the building from Cumberland Street.

"The concrete you see right now facing Cumberland will be replaced by two-and-a-half storey high glass," says Karp. "Right now if you went into the building you have basically a bunch of concrete and fire escape doors. [Nespresso] will be relocating the fire escapes, they'll be doing some major interior relocation." The work will also include improvements to a laneway entrance to the building from Bloor Street.

The landlord, EmTwo Properties, is reportedly working with designs by Turner Fleischer - the firm behind the recent Maple Leaf Gardens renovations. Several other high-end fashion companies expressed an interest in the theatre during an international advertising campaign but Nespresso was apparently chosen for "something of quality that would bring excitement to the Yorkville neighbourhood," said Karp.

Strangely, still no official word from Nespresso, though a representative from Nestle tells me that a statement is in the works.

UPDATE: 11:11, 9/5/2012

Statement from Nespresso:

"We are eager to bring the Nespresso culture to Toronto and are looking at a number of locations for our boutique but have not confirmed a site as of yet. Nespresso entered the Canadian market six years ago with a Boutique in Corner in Toronto, then in 2009 it opened a Nespresso Boutique Bar in Montreal, and we look forward to sharing our unique coffee experience with Canadians across the country and in years to come."

- Jacques Demont, Managing Director, Nespresso Canada

So it's not a done deal yet and there's plenty of mixed messages coming from the parties involved. Watch this space for more.

Photo by mondomark in the BlogTO Flickr pool.



W. Andrew Powell / May 8, 2012 at 10:43 am
I'll miss the theatre, but it was really an awful experience over the last few years. I dreaded seeing films there when TIFF used to hold media screenings at the Cumberland.

The funny thing is, I thought it was going to be a condo, but as a Nespresso lover, I'm kind of thrilled the company might finally have a proper store in the city, aside from the one in the Bay.
simba390 replying to a comment from W. Andrew Powell / May 8, 2012 at 10:54 am
What made the experience awful?
funky / May 8, 2012 at 11:07 am
Like Toronto soooooooooooo needs another fancy-schmancy overpriced coffee shop. Is that seriously the best they can do? Did they even give it ANY thought at all? Boring!!!
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from W. Andrew Powell / May 8, 2012 at 11:13 am
I would also be interested in knowing why you found it awful. I went to see many, many films at the Cumb4 over the years, and never had a bad experience - and I saw both TIFF and Hot Docs screenings there as well.
RuffRuby replying to a comment from funky / May 8, 2012 at 11:16 am
Mika / May 8, 2012 at 11:32 am
so sad :( i’m going to miss this place. such a cool layout. i had some good times here watching movies, especially hot docs. oh well.
Jim Pagiamtzis / May 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm
Sad to see cinema go. I was just here few months back watching a movie. Hope it turns in coffee place rather than a condo.
Rick / May 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm
It's seems strange that the entire theatre is going to become a coffee shop/sales centre. It's a pretty big space.
mel / May 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm
45 foot glass facade eh. well, i guess when Toronto gets tired of coffee on every street, and when Toronto gets tired of paying for constant heat and air conditioning required by the insulation-poor glass facades it will be easy to tear these things down. much easier than gutting an old fashioned movie theater that's for sure. with all this coffee in our systems, who can sit still through a movie anyway? Yes, Toronto has welcomed the age of coffee and glass with open arms.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from funky / May 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Who's "they"?
Matthew / May 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm
While I'm sure some people have a lot of history w/ the theater, I agree that something needed to be done. Every time I went there, I was surprised that the initial design produced such a level viewing area, opposed to more appropriate theater style seating.

That being said, a coffee shop is lame. I really enjoyed the location. At the same time though, I'd rather go to Varsity Cinema, or the Bell Lightbox.
Benedict / May 8, 2012 at 01:25 pm
Isn't Nespresso that capsule coffee maker they have in motels and insurance company waiting rooms?

Every time I went to the Cumberland, a lady would sit in front of me with a hairstyle full of perfume samples.
Pete / May 8, 2012 at 03:24 pm
"Every time I went to the Cumberland, a lady would sit in front of me with a hairstyle full of perfume samples."

bobo / May 8, 2012 at 05:23 pm
oooooh, a Nespresso! Maybe there will be Jack Astor's too.

Oh, wait that shit already happened at Yonge and Bloor and now in the St. Lawrence area.

As long as there are landlords who have no imagination and just want a safe mega-corporation in their space, we'll keep getting more of this lame ass crap.
Bonhomme / May 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm
Fucking Nestle garbage! A giant landfill would be a better addition than this shit!
sanjay / May 9, 2012 at 12:01 am
I cant believe how many people are upset about a run down theatre being made into a nice clean (and beautiful) new store. Is the landlord supposed to wait for a scummier tenant to open? Maybe it should be a second branch of NY Subs

Whenever I'm in Paris or NYC I always think the Nespresso stores are the nicest ones around.

Also these stores normally dont sell coffee or have people sitting around having coffee like most people think

sanjay / May 9, 2012 at 12:18 am
i also think it's great a giant company is going to spend x million dollars renovating a store and keep dozens of people employed
S / May 9, 2012 at 01:17 am
This is not Paris or NYC.
Philip / May 9, 2012 at 01:20 am
I agree with Sanjay, Nespresso outlets around the world are awesome, I have been to ones in Korea and Paris, they're nice. Also, for those worried that it might be odd to turn this place into a coffee place, think again! One of my favourite places to go for coffee in Seoul is here:

As you can see, its basically a big concrete/granite-looking shell (like what the Cumberland is), but the interior design is great and it's perhaps one of the best coffee places there, especially thanks to the people-watching aspect of it. The front is completely open to the elements (in the winter there are heat lamps strategically placed) so there's great interaction between street-life and those in the shop. It's located on Garosu-gil, similar to (although arguably better than) Yorkville - affluent, many boutique shops, etc. so I can see something like this working in Yorkville. If you ever get out to Seoul, check it out! One of the only places I don't mind paying ~$6 for a latte.
Philip / May 9, 2012 at 01:30 am
A better review of what I was talking about:
Grace / May 9, 2012 at 03:25 am
Isn't there a Starbucks right next to the theatre? Or am I confusing it with Yorkville Ave?

Either way, l'm sad to see it go as I saw a lot of great movies there. I also particularly loved the popcorn at this theatre.
Danielle / May 9, 2012 at 10:32 am
I'm echoing a lot of these sentiments, I'm sad to see the Cumberland go, but I'm also sad that they let it get into such disrepair over the last 5 years in particular. They knew it wouldn't last too much longer and scrimped everywhere from elevator repair to washroom facilities and it showed. Imagine if they had kept up appearances and maintenance, I think people would be more upset.
handfed / May 9, 2012 at 11:46 am
This is just terrible. This was *the place* to go see independent and international films in downtown. I didn't go there to use their elevator or washroom facilities, which according to some were in disrepair; I went to see movies not available elsewhere!
Cailin Gaelach replying to a comment from handfed / May 9, 2012 at 04:37 pm
That is the real issue! Where else can you go to see independent and international films in the downtown area now? Maybe if the Cumberland was a "vintage" cinema, like a lot of Toronto's repertory theatres, people would have petitioned to save it. (Not the Yorkvillians, though -- too posh to protest, I would imagine. ;))
Fabrizio replying to a comment from funky / May 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm
Couldn't agree more! I'm disappointed and mortified.
It was my favorite theatre by far and large, to think that is gonna be replaced by a F%#* coffee shop makes me cringe with rage and disgust.
Alexander K / May 13, 2012 at 04:12 pm
Never forget when I saw Once, Paris Je T'aime and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly all in one day at Cumberland. For a while it was the only place to watch inventive movies, now its just a place to discuss mediocre ones.
Evan / May 13, 2012 at 04:46 pm
We really don't need to add an "N" to an already awesome culture. Pass forever.
W. Andrew Powell replying to a comment from simba390 / May 14, 2012 at 02:56 pm
Uncomfortable seats that were too close to each other, and the seats weren't staggered (in terms of height) enough--that was my biggest complaint.
W. Andrew Powell replying to a comment from sanjay / May 14, 2012 at 02:59 pm
Have to agree with you. Toronto is over-commercialized, but the Cumberland needed work in a bad way.
W. Andrew Powell / May 14, 2012 at 03:03 pm
Only sad last comment I have is that I fully agree that there are not enough cinemas showing independent cinema. That said, if you're downtown and that's what you're after, what, exactly, is wrong with TIFF Bell Lightbox? It does not get much more dedicated to cinema, by and large, than Lightbox.
Philip / September 12, 2013 at 11:42 am
Any update as to when this might open? Passed by the other day, seems just about ready.
the lemur replying to a comment from Philip / September 12, 2013 at 01:31 pm
According to staff at the outlet in the Bay, they are aiming for early October. Menu still to be determined.
bring my bucket replying to a comment from Philip / October 2, 2013 at 07:54 pm
the shop is open now! get your $50/pound coffee pods now!
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