cawthra toronto

This under the radar Toronto street is suddenly packed with the most interesting places

You may not know it, but a certain industrial strip in Toronto is actually packed with hidden gems, making it a semi-secret destination for booze, coffee and baked goods.

Cawthra Ave. is tucked away in a sleepy triangle between Toronto's Junction and Stockyards neighbourhoods.

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With lots of businesses stationed on Dundas West and St. Clair, big box stores to the west and a Delta Bingo to the east, it can be easy to forget about the tight little grid of streets bordered by Keele St. and Junction Rd., with Cawthra being the furthest from Keele.

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Even if you don't know the avenue, chances are you're familiar with some of the products created there, including Nickel 9 gin and vodka, Sweet Flour baked goods, Subtext coffee and People's Pint beer.

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"There is a ton happening right now on Cawthra," Nickel 9 owner Chris Jacks tells blogTO.

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He's in the process of launching a BIA for the area and is starting a new brand called Cawthra Drinks helping to promote other businesses.

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Jacks is no stranger to throwing events and connecting the distillery to the community, and they do regular distillery tours and tastings.

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You can also host your own event at the space.

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The distillery has indoor and outdoor seating for sampling some of their products, too.

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If you're looking for a different kind of buzz, there are roasters Stereo and Subtext.

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"There are a few hold out neighbourhoods like Cawthra left. While the strip may look industrial and even unkempt at first glance, it is one of the most lively strips in the city for artists and craftspeople, absolutely bustling with photographers, ceramicists, bee keepers, woodworkers, sculpturists," says Subtext co-founder Alex Castellani.

"It stands diametrically opposed to the big box parking lot that ended up being Stockyards, and for that reason we wanted to be both a member and active voice in maintaining this neighbourhood's identity amidst the impending changes."

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Subtext sources single origin offerings seasonally, with an emphasis on originality, decommodification and equity.

cawthra torontoIn addition to serving espresso-based beverages and pour over, Subtext also sells coffee brewing equipment and merch.

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All their coffee is roasted and packed at this location, and they host educational talks and courses at the space too.

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"Our location is both industrial—it is an industrial unit—and warm, flooded with light and wood accents. It's a place to hang out for a while, drink coffee slow and try many," says Castellani.

"The intent was for people to pull up a stool to the long bar, put away their phone and chat while they watch our team prepare coffees we had roasted a few meters away."

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Need a treat to go along with your coffee? Head over to Cawthra mainstay Sweet Flour, which has been in the area for almost nine years.

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Gourmet baked goods at the bakery are inspired by anything from ice cream to cereal.

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They also do cookie cakes, cookie gift boxes (both of which sell out often) and pre-packaged bags of shortbread and crispy cookies called "sweet stacks."

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Cupcakes and edible or ready-to-bake cookie dough are available in-store for walk-ins too. 

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Order online to get your pickup or delivery baked to order.

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"If someone walks in for a gift and we need time to package it, we always tell them to grab a beer next door at People's Pint or a coffee at Subtext Coffee while they wait," Sweet Flour catering and sales manager Kristen Schooley tells blogTO.

"Our Cawthra 'hood is truly unique. It's a gathering of artists and artisans, bakers and distillers, roasters and designers. Each new business that comes in brings in a spark of excitement. It shapes the neighbourhood in new ways and opens up amazing and unique partnership opportunities we never would have considered."

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Some of their partnerships with neighbours have included doing beer and cookie pairings with People's Pint, trading cookies for sanitizer with Nickel 9 and outfitting employees with masks from lingerie store Mayana Geneviere.

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They're also looking at partnering with Mylko and wineonline.ca to have alternative milks or wine paired with their cookies for deliveries.

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These businesses are far from all there is to this micro-neighbourhood: photo and video studio Album has a location here as well as on Geary.

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Doug & Partners also has their communications and design studio here; they've worked on projects for Go RVing, Honda and the University of New Brunswick.

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Cyclewerx deals in all things motorcycle, from repair and service to sales and storage.

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Tattoo shop Odalisque is a by-appointment-only private tattoo studio you can slip away to for a hushed, personalized experience.

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Creative collective Good People Commons is intended to be a hub for film, photography, tech, music and design, attracting entrepreneurial tenants.

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Head to Philip Sparks (which used to be on Ossington) for bespoke custom tailoring for anything from weddings to film and theatre projects.

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Strength and conditioning training is hidden in a back alley at Atlantic Athletic Club.

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Toman Electric and Auto may not look like much, but it's been around since 1996 and has gained a loyal following for their auto services through word of mouth over the years.

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Though it may look like there's not much going on here at first glance, this little nook of Toronto surprisingly has something for everyone.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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