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Eat & Drink

Yorkville institution The Coffee Mill bites the dust

Posted by Derek Flack / August 26, 2014

Coffee MillIt's the end of an era in Yorkville, as the last coffee shop with ties to the neighbourhood's hip heyday in the 1960s has decided to close its doors. The Coffee Mill, that now dated Hungarian cafe with the nice courtyard patio off Yorkville Avenue is calling it quits after over 50 years in business. The Star frames the closure as a result of TIFF's move to King West, but there's really a surfeit of reasons why the old school business just wasn't viable in the Yorkville of today.

The Yorkville power brokers do their business on the patio at One nowadays, and the dual rise of corporate coffee shops and trendy restaurants in the area has left the Coffee Mill as a throwback that can't keep up, despite the loyal following of regulars the cafe still boasts to this day. You won't find a better bowl of goulash soup in the neighbourhood (and some would argue the city), but Yorkville isn't a place that's easy on businesses with hidden gem status.

Martha von Heczey's restaurant was a patio pioneer in the neighbourhood, one that would embrace coffee house culture like no other in Toronto, but the bohemian spirit fled Yorkville decades ago. And while the restaurant adapted to newer versions of the neighbourhood, there's not enough nostalgia to keep it relevant these days. The Coffee Mill will shut its doors September 7th.

Discussion

13 Comments

3141592654 / August 26, 2014 at 11:28 am
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Power posers more like it. Pass by during the day.
Steve / August 26, 2014 at 11:44 am
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Truly a shame but bound to happen. Had many great weekend lunches with my grandparents here as a kid. Amazing old school Eastern European food. One of a kind and it will be impossible to find something nearby that even does it close to these guys. Will be sad to see it go.
Hortensia / August 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm
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Well, it had its day and perhaps it is time to move on to a new phase. Sad, but I think it is definitely time for a change in this space.
Judy / August 26, 2014 at 01:03 pm
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I have been a loyal customer since I moved to the city in 1980 and will miss the goulash, cabbage rolls, palacinta, strudel and violin playing. Enjoyed many great meals with family and friends.
may / August 26, 2014 at 03:54 pm
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Good riddance. Terrible food, terrible service. Snotty waitress and old people everywhere. I'm glad you're gone.
Big Drew / August 26, 2014 at 05:05 pm
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S my D, May!!! Your palette is clearly unrefined. The Mill was the place to go for a hearty Euro lunch. 4 generations of my family have been. The ladies there are sweet as can be and remember me when I come in, even though it's only once every two years. Don't forget to add your bill at the end - the Hungarians love to miscount. Can't beat the Hus Leves or Paprikas.
Ali Bee / August 26, 2014 at 10:56 pm
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I have warm memories of the original coffee mill in the 60s ..having open faced sandwiches and a cup of tea with my mom in the afternoon,sitting on pretty wrought iron chairs on the patio next to the fountain. We would always see people we knew there..Sad to see it go..
kwazy wabbit replying to a comment from may / August 26, 2014 at 11:33 pm
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May, stop smoking the 747's. You kwazy!
norm / August 27, 2014 at 01:55 pm
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Reply to Steve & Ali Bee, et al, my wife (or Peggy Wente) probably served you as they were waitresses there (Lothian Mews) in the late '60's. I volunteered upstairs at the Canadian Save the Children's craft store and had my first "Shrimp Cocktail" at the Coffee Mill. It was a bit of old Europe in Toronto which was hard to get anywhere else at the time. Martha was a "mother" to the waitresses & showed much concern for the "girls". She had to with the drooling and touchy feely Hungarian men always hanging around the place. The "tips" were very good and the staff could take a couple of Cinnamon Danishes home at closing if any were left. I have a picture of my wife in her cute apron & mini-skirt standing by the fountain. What a hoot.
Stephen Kennedy replying to a comment from may / August 28, 2014 at 06:38 am
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May,

Have you ever eaten one of the Coffee Mill's schnitzels, goulashes, cabbage rolls, apple strudels, or chestnut purees, or drank one of their mocha frosties? I doubt it, if you would call their food "terrible"!

I've been eating at the Coffee Mill for almost 20 years now, since I was a young child and came with my parents, and I have always enjoyed the friendly wait staff, and the delicious food, as well as the beautiful live music. Perhaps when you ate there, you were being a rude, ignorant, negative little twit (or something that rhymes with twit!) just like you are being now in your comment! Maybe that's why you had such a negative experience there... because you brought your negativity with you. Whatever we put out in this world, we get back.

Obviously you are age-phobic, with gastronomically-challenged tastebuds, and a miserable (in both senses of the word!) excuse of a human being.

Remember, May, some day YOU will be old, too!... that is, if you're fortunate enough to live that long, without pissing off the wrong person, and getting put out of your misery! LoL And if you DO happen to survive into your old age, I'm sure that some young, stupid ass (much like yourself) will have the same feelings about YOU as you currently have about the older adults who often frequent this charming restaurant!

Have a little respect for your elders, Princess. You're going to be one of them much sooner than you think!

Steve

I, for one, will miss this Toronto institution and culinary treasure.
Rich / August 28, 2014 at 10:41 am
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Losing a place like this is a further loss to Toronto's dwindling character. Daft hipsters and the places they frequent is turning this town into a bad American city.

Mr. Kennedy..I applaud you! :)
Chris replying to a comment from Rich / August 28, 2014 at 11:09 am
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"Losing a place like this is a further loss to Toronto's dwindling character"

How exactly?

They had a 50 year run - excellent by any measure, for a restaurant/coffee shop. There's nothing sad about that at all. Things, change, businesses open and businesses close. I get the nostalgia aspect, but I fail to see how losing a coffee shop situated in a part of town frequented mostly by tourists somehow results in a loss of Toronto's character.

Cities grow up and move on (even "World class" cities). If you wish to spend your time stuck in the past, hanging out at the same places you frequented as a child, or just living somewhere where time appears to stand still and nothing changes, you may want to consider moving to a small town up north somewhere. Maybe the pace will better suit you.

Rita / August 29, 2014 at 11:56 am
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@ May & Chris Without these older establishments you can be in any city. Yes, these places do give them character. May... nice reference the presence of old people being a problem. Hope the karma from that comment comes to bite you back HARD! Chris.....if you have travelled any, then you would realize that what makes most cities is their history, architecture etc. Too much glass, steel and another trendy restaurant becomes been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, very, very quickly. BTW...nostalgia is what makes a place yours....otherwise it is nothing but somebody elses money..... and that is simply boring.

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