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Fashion Stores

Lea-Ann Belter Bridal

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on March 13, 2012

Lea Ann Belter BridalLea-Ann Belter Bridal has moved its flagship store to the curious corner of Dundas and Broadview. I say "curious" because this the intersection is largely neglected - hardly abuzz with blushing brides or fervent shoppers. Indeed, the area is somewhat unremarkable; a bit too south to really be part of East Chinatown, slightly north of some of the Riverside charm, and too far west to be considered part of Leslieville. But hey, it's where the streetcars turn. That's something, at least.

Lea-Ann Belter Bridal made the move here nonetheless, leaving its former Queen East home after seven years. The bridal shop's gowns can be found in more than 50 stores worldwide, but its flagship store is and always has been in Toronto. And as of about three weeks ago, it can now be found on Dundas East.

Lea Ann Belter BridalArea locals might recognize the site as that of a longstanding Coffee Time location. And, yes, it had a lot of the cracks and creaks that are somewhat typical of Toronto's untouched chain coffee outlets. So, needless to say, Belter wasn't exactly inspired when her realtor took her to check out the building.

"I thought, 'Ew, really? That old, run-down Coffee Time?'" Belter tells me as we chat in the completely made-over space. But she was back soon enough, determined to find her own space to buy and inspired by the building's potential-ridden frame. The owners of the building of her former space on Queen were looking to sell and the timing (and price) of the Coffee Time structure seemed right.

Lea Ann Belter BridalSo Belter jumped on it. But the leap, it should be noted, was more of a treacherous, eight-month trek than a leisurely bounce. Everything - from heating and cooling, floors, windows, stairs, and walls - everything was renovated and made anew. Coffee Time's drop ceiling was eliminated, revealing big double windows and more than 13 feet of height (though the airy blue the boutique has chosen for the walls makes it feel much larger). The dark wood floors create a sense of sophisticated elegance, which will surely be maintained by the "please remove your shoes" policy at the door. And romance is hinted by the subtle lip prints in the exterior wall, much more understated than, say, the True Love Cafe several blocks to the west.

The gowns themselves are very much in keeping with the showroom's vibe; that is elegant, clean, romantic, and sophisticated. Belter began her bridal career after graduating from fashion school, asked by her brother to design a dress for his fiancé. She found she had a knack for creating gowns for urban, profession women, and now offers a collection that is made entirely in Toronto. Prices range from about $2,100 to $5,100, though most gowns ring in at around $3,000.

Lea Ann Belter BridalI ask Belter if she thinks her arrival will catalyze a change in the surrounding area. "Everyone has been excited," she says. "And I think it may encourage nice new businesses to move into the area."

Belter adds that she has ordered a new exterior clock and it should be fixed up soon. "This is just a beautiful building," she says. "And I think you can see that now."

Lea Ann Belter BridalPhotos by Adam Pulicicchio



Erin / December 18, 2009 at 09:55 pm
I looked all over Chicago and Toronto for a dress for my upcoming wedding, and am ecstatic to be wearing a Lea Ann Belter dress. I can't say enough great things about the designer and this boutique!

The dresses at Lea Ann Belter are gorgeous. Attention to detail, unique design, beautiful fabrics and a very personalized shopping experience. The boutique is fabulous and the appointment there was so relaxing and positive I fell in love with most of the dresses I tried on. I went to many of the other places on this list and there is no comparison. Lea Ann Belter is the place for brides looking for a couture experience without the exorbitant price tag!

I am pretty sure a few of my friends who accompanied me will be returning here for their dresses...
Mel / November 9, 2011 at 05:54 pm
One word...AMAZING! Service was top notch! The dresses were gorgeous and Robert made you feel so special. Highly recommend this store to all brides.
tru / March 13, 2012 at 01:17 pm
Ya its a crappy, dead zone stretch of Broadview.
Hopefully it helps clean up the row of garbage that inhibits Dundas to the east and north on Broadview.
pd / March 13, 2012 at 01:22 pm
Not in need of a bridal gown myself, but I'm happy to see some new business moving into the neighbourhood. Very much needed, and a beautiful shop as well! Best of luck to them.
Bill Angst / March 13, 2012 at 01:47 pm
Class act through and through!
So glad your move is over for you.
This is a destination location.
Anyone worth their weight in salt will travel far for quality and a unique experience.
Continued success for your Atelier.
MrsPotato / March 13, 2012 at 01:52 pm
I drove past this store yesterday evening, and I was blown away! It really made me want to get married!

The store is beautiful.
And when/if my boyfriend every pops the question *cough cough* this will be my first stop to look at dresses.

This special boutique really lit up the corner; it caught my eye!

Brianna replying to a comment from tru / March 13, 2012 at 01:53 pm
That's quite racist.

There is a thriving Vietnamese and Cantonese community on Dundas and north on Broadview. Your assumption that it's garbage is sweeping and offensive. I hope you get pubic lice.
JenC / March 13, 2012 at 02:09 pm
Kudos to Belter for having the vision to take over this neglected building. The store looks lovely. My only suggestion would be to re-stucco the exterior as the outline of the coffee beans that used to adorn the facade are still quite visible.
Sami replying to a comment from Brianna / March 13, 2012 at 02:36 pm
The area IS a dump. It always has been; I've lived there all 28 years of my life. I love that the surrounding areas have all started cleaning up but dundas and broadview IS still gross and hopefully this is the start of something fabulous for this area. I'm not sure why you take this as a racist comment.
Sami replying to a comment from Brianna / March 13, 2012 at 02:36 pm
The area IS a dump. It always has been; I've lived there all 28 years of my life. I love that the surrounding areas have all started cleaning up but dundas and broadview IS still gross and hopefully this is the start of something fabulous for this area. I'm not sure why you take this as a racist comment.
tru replying to a comment from Brianna / March 13, 2012 at 02:45 pm
There was nothing racist whatsoever about that.

That area from Dundas just east of Munro to east of Dundas is damn near awful. As is the north/south section of Broadview around Dundas.

You have to go up to Gerrard East/Broadview to enjoy the Asian influence.

Try Google streetview, its a fun little toy.
Gloria / March 13, 2012 at 03:38 pm
interesting ... i wish them the best. that area right around dundas & broadview could use a serious boost ... it just kind of dies completely. it's a poor mix of residential and commercial.

this kind of "appointment" shopping seems like a good fit in an area with not a lot of pedestrian traffic. it'll probably work out ... hopefully, with three streetcar lines in the area, more shops will see the potential and move in.
East ender / March 13, 2012 at 09:14 pm
Formerly the Dennis House tavern/ hotel. One of the skidiest of the skid row establishments around the city. Can't seem to find any good photos of it but I'm sure they are somewhere.
Klanya replying to a comment from East ender / March 14, 2012 at 08:31 am
Oh yeah, I remember that place. Never was old enough to go in but the people who stood outside of it was enough to fear taverns like that forever.
pd replying to a comment from Brianna / March 14, 2012 at 09:03 am
Seriously? Racist?? Have you seen the area in question?? How does ethnicity factor into it?? The neighbourhood is a DUMP.
Beans / March 14, 2012 at 11:01 am
Heh - "subtle lip prints" on the exterior....those would be the coffee beans from its previous life. Interesting that they would now be viewed by fresh eyes as lips (it looks weird to these old eyes).
Lofty / March 14, 2012 at 09:47 pm
So her realtor takes her to the Coffee Time and the first thing she can say is ew? Come on, any idiot with a vision would've been able to see the potential with the building.
Phil replying to a comment from Brianna / March 19, 2012 at 02:38 pm
Oh please, there's nothing racist about that. The area IS a dump and it IS inhabited by garbage. It has nothing to do with the background of the people there but rather their behaviour.
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jeff fried / June 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm
I agree the area surrounding the new store is poor, neglected , dirty and run down. Having moved to Leslieville over a dozens years ago I can attest to the fact that even though you maintain and take pride in your home ,some residents who have been there for a long time lack either the resources or pride to maintain their homes well. I hope Lee_Ann"s vision is not thwarted by the condition of the neighbourhood and that the crime level around her bdoesn't inflict on the business. Best of luck
Jess / March 25, 2014 at 08:11 pm
Absolutely terrible customer service. The employee "helping" us gave so much attitude. We felt pressured to pick something quickly. He kept talking and looking at us as if we were below him and shopping here. As beautiful as the dresses might be, the way me and my mother were treated was awful. I will definitely NOT shop here again.

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