Balzac's adds European flair to Gould Street
June 11, 2012
If you’re on campus and need a coffee, head to Balzac’s.
The coffeehouse is now open in the Image Arts building and it looks like people have found a new place for their coffee breaks. Balzac's has developed a loyal following for its European atmosphere and design, great coffee and other beverages and French-inspired food. The company has Toronto locations in Liberty Village and the Distillery District, and other venues at Stratford, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Kitchener.
Balzac’s is known mostly for its fresh-roasted coffee and fair trade/organic espresso beverages. The Ryerson location currently sells pastries and baked breakfast goods. Savoury lunch items such as soups, sandwiches, quiches and flatbreads will gradually be added to the menu. When creating Balzac’s, founder Diana Olsen had a simple concept in mind.
“Provide exceptional coffee, beverages and pastries in an environment that is authentic and inviting,” she said. “Our aesthetic is pre-modern. Sometime in the 1950s, commercial spaces started becoming very impersonal and sterile with fluorescent lighting and prefabricated finishes. Today, Toronto has so many unique, independent coffee companies where each of the owners is expressing themselves and their love for coffee in personal and creative ways, so we are all different and we all stand out.”
Barista Brendan Fernie hasn’t worked at Balzac’s for long but he’s already enjoying his new job. He says business has been steady and due to the time of year, patrons have mostly been faculty and tourists. Popular buys have been organic roasts such as the farmers’ blend and he notes that all pastries and food are bought locally.
“It’s a really great café. It’s a comfortable place so people are here all day hanging out,” Fernie said. “I like working here. It’s always busy, there’s no downtime and it’s a social job. They treat their employees really well and it has a consistent brand.”
Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends, the trendy place always has a steady stream of customers. Ian Robertson just happened to be passing through when he noticed the new café.
“This building has been under construction for a while so I was surprised to see this here,” he said. “It’s my first time at any Balzac’s. It has a very interesting décor. A lot of coffee shops out there are a bit dungeon-like but this place has nice, big windows and sunlight coming in so you can see outside. This could become one of my favourites.”