Bizarre Canadian concept gets to-go offer

Image copyright Toronto city council Image caption The proposal for a caflette is currently being considered by the Toronto city council

A canteen that in the past has brought food from across the world and hosted controversial debates is set to become a permanent fixture on a busy Toronto street.

The CafeTO, known as “the cafeteria of the mind”, was set up in an old building just behind the city’s Don Mills subway station.

The idea was first mooted in 1986 in a Canadian magazine.

It is now being submitted to Toronto city council for approval.

Image copyright Toronto city council Image caption The café has managed to become a popular and much-loved meeting space over the years

The café operates by having independent suppliers deliver food to a specially installed kitchen at the end of its row of outdoor tables.

The offerings include gluten-free rolls, vegan eggs, vegetarian noodles, as well as beer, coffee and wine from Toronto’s fine-dining coffee bar, Trinitaria.

There are events, readings and sessions on a range of current and historical issues, including interreligious dialogue, gun control and anti-war activism.

Image copyright Toronto city council Image caption Larger events are held during school holidays and on evenings and weekends, along with school field trips

To some, it is a chance to talk and imagine new ways of thinking without the usual barriers.

But for others, such as just plain ignorant Canadians, it is a place to come to to gawp at ugly American-style hotels, neon signs and cereal boxes.

The plans going to the city council include converting the canteen into a licensed bar with the only rule being the hygiene regulations on public places.

Image copyright Toronto city council Image caption Each drink at the canteen must contain at least 60% fruit juice

But CafTO says it is also planning to “create an equitable atmosphere by offering affordable, diverse and timely community programming, with a business focus”.

A statement on its website says that it wants to promote higher standards for food service, and access to information and information-sharing by people “of all backgrounds and levels of education”.

Leave a Comment