Toronto luxury gym surviving lockdown by transforming into a coffee shop and market
After two years of searching for a space and extensive renovations, KX Yorkville was rearing to open in spring 2020—but within months, the gym was forced to close.
The nine-year-old boutique gym, which relocated from its original Yorkville location last year, had to shutter the doors of its Davenport facility during Ontario's first state of emergency. It's still waiting to reopen.
The only thing keeping the business afloat right now is KX Coffee Bar: the cafe which gym founder Adriano Martorano decided to launch right before the pandemic hit.
"It was almost a god send," said Martorano. "We were able to still somehow keep our head above water—which is an overstatement—but more importantly keep our brand alive."
Located at the front of the 4,000-square-foot space, KX Coffee Bar is now the main focus of the KX brand, serving cortados and freddo flat whites for takeout.
The gym's dumbells and equipment, reserved for KX's signature 12-week one-on-one training programs, lay in wait until lockdown is over and working out resumes once more.
Martorano says he always intended to offer coffee and wine program ("There are benefits to having wine," he says) at KX.
Visions of charcuterie boards with venison, smoked trout, and cheese were part of the plan too.
"As the summer was coming, we had a patio, and we were really getting ready for that wine bar experience," says Martorano.
"Our main artery, the gym, was severed, and that's really what was the importance of allowing us to float the coffee and wine bar."
But with dine-in banned, everything was reduced to takeaway only.
The cafe came first, then the bottle shop, offering a list of about 20 organic and biodynamic wines averaging around $50.
That was followed by a market concept inside the cafe.
Drop in today and you'll be able to shop a whole list of essentials: bottles of 53 Acres maple syrup, loose leaf teas, ChocoSol chocolates, supplements, pounds of ground bison, and bars of Corktown Soap.
KX Coffee Bar has also partnered with local restaurants like Il Covo, who has co-created eats like a sous vide turkey breast sandwich and chicken broth. Martorano says the options are expanding.
"You walk in and it's a one-stop shop," says Martorano. "It's a grocery store within a coffee bar...You don't need to go anywhere else."
As for the gym component, Martorano says they're looking forward to when they can start bringing in clients again.
The space has a brand new HVAC system, plus the front of the building is a garage door that opens up to the street, for additional ventilation.
It should be easier for KX than other large gyms, since it was already operating on an appointment-only basis.
"We're excited to bring back that social aspect to human beings," says Martorano.
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