Seesaw Cafe is a delightful spot in Davenport Village that serves a variety of purposes; in addition to being a much-needed cafe for the area, it's also a space for the community and a wood workshop for its owner, Katie Reed.
"This neighbourhood is really under-serviced, but is full of people, so I thought this might be the perfect spot for such a project," says Reed, who lives nearby. She's outfitted the former beauty salon and spa with a charming mish-mash of eclectic vintage furniture and decor, and built the counters herself.
For coffee, only espresso-based beverages (espresso/Americano, $2 single/$3 double; latte, $2.75/$3.75; cappuccino, $2.50) are offered, made with beans from Rufino's Classic Coffee. Loose leaf teas ($2.50 each) come from Tealish. If you're ordering a drink to stay, you may even luck out like I did and get it served in a kickass Blue Jays 1992 World Series mug.
Reed, whose first business was the shoe repair shop Sole Survivor in Kensington Market (she sold it to her assistant Lorena Agolli in 2013), has turned Seesaw's basement into her workshop, where she creates wood pieces like hand-carved wooden pendant necklaces, utensils and cheese boards that she showcases and sells in the cafe ($15-$60).
After she hit a plateau with cobbling, she apprenticed at a wood shop to learn a new trade. Eventually she realized she missed the community aspect of owning her own business, so she opened up Seesaw. Most of the wood she uses for her pieces are off-cuts from larger-scale projects from her previous workplace, Forever Interiors in The Junction.
In addition to her own stuff, Reed also sells one-of-a-kind soy wax candles by Worthy Co. , which are scented with blends of pure essential oils and hand poured into unique vessels, along with handmade ceramics by Nightshift Ceramics - both based in Toronto - in the cafe's retail space.
Since opening, Reed has hosted a bevy of events and workshops here, including a talk for Toronto tradeswomen, a book club, local vendor markets, a storytelling night and a repair cafe day, where people could come learn how to fix their broken items (electronics, jewellery, clothes, etc.).
There's a palpable sense of community here, making it a welcome addition to the 'hood. It's an ideal place to meet for a coffee or come to get some work done (with free WiFi). "I love this area because it's not one of the 'cool' neighbourhoods," Reed laughs. I agree, although she's definitely contributing to making it much more attractive.
Photos by Jesse Milns.