boxcar laneway toronto

Toronto indie cafe chain is giving its employees a share of the profits

An indie cafe chain just opened an incubator hub in a laneway that will not only give employees leadership roles, it will also give them profit shares of revenue.

Boxcar Social has several locations in Toronto, and has been known for bridging the gap between your morning coffee and evening cocktail. Now, they're also bridging the gap between their employees and their leaders and owners.

Called Boxcar Laneway, it's tucked away in an alley at 298 Markham St. behind Bar Raval and DaiLo.

It has a hand-built espresso machine by Kees Van der Westen in the Netherlands, a rotating menu of single origin seasonal coffees and music on vinyl.

"In addition to affording staff latitude to contribute to programming, the location will be an incubator space where staff can develop their leadership skills and receive mentorship in running a location," Boxcar Social director of operations Heba Kandil tells blogTO.

"In turn, they receive quarterly profit shares of revenue which will help guide practical decision making with regards to matters like program offerings, costing, labour hours, etc."

The idea behind giving their employees transparency on how the business is run is to train the next generations of managers.

In turn, Boxcar is hoping to benefit from developing the creativity and skill of their employees so they can expand in new and different ways.

"We wanted to give members of our team a space to contribute outside of our standard programs, to have a sense of autonomy within a co-operative structure and flat hierarchy," says Kandil.

"We are lucky to have a team who are thoughtfully engaged with the coffee community at large, who are technically very skilled, care about Boxcar's larger philosophical values, and would like to develop more culturally and managerially."

It sounds like it's going to be quite the treat for coffee lovers out there, especially those who enjoy seeking out locations that are a bit hidden.

Boxcar Laneway opened Saturday, Nov. 27 and will have hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns


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