Sumach Espresso is the sibling cafe to Broadview Espresso . Owner Mike Cullen seems to have a knack for turning formerly sketchy spots into coffee havens; Broadview Espresso used to be a porn shop while this place was previously a dingy convenience store called New Regent Variety.
Cullen came upon this space by chance. Like his first location, he had a good feeling about it and saw a lot of potential for it to become a community hub.
With the revitalization of Regent Park immediately north of here, this is definitely a developing area, and those who happen to pass by have been delighted to discover what just might become their favourite local coffee haunt.
A work-in-progress patio around the cafe will soon be further beautified with the help of the landscape architect who owns the building and had it renovated. Inside, a glass garage door that can be raised in warmer weather looks out onto the Sumach-Shuter Parkette across the street, which I have to admit is a pretty picturesque visual.
On the wall, there's a drawing of what this corner of Sumach and Shuter looked like in the 1930s, with more work by local artists to come.
There's ample seating (custom-made by Lush Woodcraft , a husband-and-wife team in Kitchener) - and electrical outlets - for those looking to stay awhile, along with an indie-friendly soundtrack of Bon Iver and Of Monsters and Men tunes (at least on the day we visit).
Rufino Classic Gourmet supplies the beans for the espresso ($2 single, $3 double) and brewed coffee ($2 medium, $2.25 large) while tea ($2.50) comes from the Metropolitan Tea Company.
Baked goods ($2-$4) are sourced from a variety of places, including Jules Cafe Patisserie and Shockingly Healthy, although some items are made in-house, like the irresistible-looking brownies inspired by the ones from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, which Cullen claims are "the best in the world." He calls his the Sumach (said with a French accent).
Possibly as a nod to the cafe's past as a convenience store, Cullen plans to stock and sell staple grocery items like eggs, cheese and bread in the near future, and he's considering hosting special food nights here as well.
His aim is to get a feel for what the neighbourhood wants and let things evolve from there. I'd say that's a wise way to run a community hub.