Smoky Coffee Shops back in the day
Coffee, smokes, cards and hockey ... Not that I'm bragging, but I've hung out in my share of coffee shops, back in the day. Come to think of it, I've met people in coffee shops who've been to my wedding. I can't speak for today's generation but back in them 'indoor smoking' days, hanging out at the local donut shop was the shit. Here's my list of coffee, smokes, cards and hockey watering holes, including all the fun-filled activities that went along with them.
I'd have to say that going WAAAAY back to my early teens, it was the Bakers Dozen down on Stanfield and Dundas, which is right across Brunswick Bowling. I remember hanging out there early Saturday and Sunday mornings with the old man before he bowled. I quickly realized that you didn't meet the boys at the alley, but at the shop. Smoke and coffee at 7am. Can someone please say Breakfast of Champions? It totally helped that coincidently, one of my best friends worked at this coffee shop, so of course, I was a huge hit amongst the old man and his crew...it was like my first ever hook up. I bet that 80% of today's youth, or should I say "Yutes," have no clue what a Baker's Dozen is. Do you?
Coffee Way was located at the corner of Wolfdale and Burnhamthorpe. The original owner was Sam, and just like his namesake in the television show Cheers, everyone knew your name. Come to think of it, he even had a curved bar in the shop too. Wow, so much went down there, so many memories. I've seen relationships build and relationships crumble at the Coffee Way, it was indeed the original Facebook. It was truly a home away from home and it was the meeting point for the entire crew, new and old. You could go there and get the seats tucked away in the corner so nobody could bother you while you studied, or you could get to the bar and play the Movie game until 7am the next morning...sometimes the next night. DOH!. The greatest lesson learned from my days at the Coffee Way was easily Euchre, from the King of Euchre himself, Larry. May God rest his dirty old bastard soul. Open 24 hours 7 days a week, this place was rocking at all times. You'd almost feel giddy walking into the place knowing that your entire Friday night would be spent at a coffee shop, and DAMN IT, it would rock! Speaking of rock, then there was Reno. Some guitar-playing hair-rocker who, by the hand of Ro, was transformed into a Mississauga Icon. Some of you know him from Compares, but I know him from Coffee Way. When Sam sold the place, it went downhill, as most places often do, so on to the next one ...
JK Donuts was located in between Wolfedale and Mavis and also along Burnhamthorpe. It was in the same plaza as the old Harvey's/Batting cages. So, after being a long time member of the Coffee Way, it took a while for myself and the entire crew to get used to another smoke joint, and JK took a bit of getting used to. My soon-to-be wife (at the time) would always hang out here instead of the Coffee Way, mainly because of the touch screens and sit down arcade games (remember those?). At first glance, it was really quite ghetto, but once you added gambling and Goddess to the mix, the place got a whole lot more appealing. I first learned how to play "brisk" in high school, and I was damn good at it too, but JK would elevate brisk to a whole new level. 3 deck brisk, WTF! Best concept ever; I don't know who invented it, but my shout outs go to Pete, Mauro, Beletic and co., the original Jersey Shore. Way before Paulie D, there was Mauro, Dave 'the Situation' Beletic and, of course, the original Ronnie, Pete the Greek aka Vrai. There was Fast Eddy, who was the jack of all trades. Whether it was high scoring it on touch screen, trying to beat my high score on arcade pool or trying to take ducats away from the Guido's in brisk, if you didn't know Eddy, then you didn't know JK. Another great feature of JK's was the TV. Finally, a TV in a coffee shop, heaven forbid. The entire cast and crew was fitting for me as it was all about gambling and sports; oh how they go hand in hand. And although JK's probably didn't know it at the time, they were getting free advertising from its unknown hockey team...
Just down the street was Country Style. Yes, it was part of a chain, but we won't hold it against them. Damn, their potato soup was da Bomb! In a way, I was moonlighting at the time between JK and Country style, but I like to think of it more as someone had to play Don King. As it turns out, both the Country Style crew and JK crew were sworn enemies with 1 thing in common, HOCKEY! That's right bitches! Whether it was on the ice at the Valley's at 2am or on the couch at Ninder's playing NHL 94 till 5am or in front of Don Cherry's with the ABEC 5's playing roller hockey until 7am, it was always about the hockey...and booze. Ohh the elaborate NHL94 tourneys that were held, with no prize bigger than the biggest prize of them all, bragging rights! I remember Mike Keane being traded away for a hot chocolate or, if you can top this, Pavel Bure for a Sega Genesis. But the real rivalry was on the ice. Every Friday night (sometimes Saturday too) it was JK vs. Country Style, games up to 5 - best of 5. If we gave the guy flooding the ice at Huron or the Valley's a mickey, it became a best of 7. New players HAD to pass waivers. In no other form of shinny would you see players benched or even scratched before a game. Or how about block buster trades or even scraps between friends? It was full-contact shinny, the way the game was meant to be played. As for the champs, well, that's why I'm writing this piece under Country Style.
As time slowly but surely caught up to us, how can I leave without making mention of Timmie's? In particular, the Tim Horton's located just outside of Square One. In the summertime, hockey turned into roller hockey. Eventually, we set aside our differences and threw the sticks in the middle in order to form teams - especially since Eazy taught us that we were all in the same gang. By the time we started chill'n at this Tim's, they had abolished smoking indoors, which totally sucked! And with that, our taste buds had gone from coffee to cafe. It went from sugar twist to biscotti in a matter of moments. First, there was Just Desserts, then Mikado's and finally, my road ended at Compares.
If there's one thing that I've learned from writing this article is this: once you stop smoking, you stop hanging out at coffee shops.
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