The Sidekick is something Chris Watton has dreamt about owning since she was 16, and now she's made it a reality. This Leslieville spot combines her two passions in life: coffee and comics. Her explanation for the name of this comic book cafe? "The sidekick would get the coffee."
She noticed there were no good comic book shops in the area and thought, "There have to be other nerds around here," and she believed if she built it they would come.
She and her life partner, Matt van Steenburgh (a professional contractor) renovated the former antique store themselves, giving it that cool coffee shop look: exposed brick, hanging Edison bulbs, reclaimed barn board coffee bar counter.
There's a corner in the back with a fireplace and two armchairs that's perfect for cozying up with a good comic and a coffee.
Carefully curated comics that focus a little more on indie publishers than DC or Marvel are for sale on shelves in the middle of the shop--including a nice selection for kids--along with memorabilia.
A stack of Watton's old comics as well as some board games can be found at the front for enjoying in the cafe. She's currently saving up to install arcade games in the back room.
As for caffeine, a changing roster of single origin Cut Coffee beans are used for espresso ($2.50; Americano, $3; latte, $3.85) and brewed beverages ($2/$2.25), with default double shots for espresso-based drinks pulled on a La Marzocco. Cold brew ($4) is also made in small batches overnight as well as cold-steeped iced tea ($2.95) using Majesteas .
For those who want to stay awhile, the high-tech Chemex Ottomatic with a sweet sprayhead produces perfect pourovers ($4.95/3-cup, $10/6-cup), managing all the variables throughout the brewing process.
If you do stay, you also get to have your order served in a comic book, sci-fi or Muppets-themed mug, which I have to admit is pretty fun.
Baked goods come from Tori's Bakeshop ($2.65-$3.55 for vegan treats) and Moo Milk Bar ($2.30-$3.30 for non-vegans), whose scones aren't available in its own shop--they're only sold wholesale. Slightly out of the ordinary add-ins for drinks, like coconut sugar, come from Urban Bulk Emporium a few doors down.
So far, Watton thinks the 14-hour work days are worth it--she's doing exactly what she wants to do. She's also creating a welcoming community space for the neighbourhood, with plans to host weekend board game nights and comic-themed events. "I just sit here and wait for geeks to show up," she says. "And they do!"
Photos by Jesse Milns