The original location of local coffee chain I Deal Coffee is closing.
However, the brand is also soft launching a new park provisions and sandwich shop in the west end next week.
Opened in 1999 on Nassau just west of Augusta, the coffee shop is a Kensington Market staple but has seen business slow during the pandemic, its owner says.
Julie Galiatsos, who bought the company from I Deal Coffee founder and original roaster James Fortier in 2009, tells NOW she made the decision to close the shop at 84 Nassau for a few reasons.
“It wasn’t an easy decision at all,” she says. “The Market has always meant so much to me. It’s where I discovered fresh-roasted coffee and it’s where I had my first great cup of coffee.”
In the years since she took over, I Deal Coffee has expanded and shifted business priorities.
The Ossington location, which launched in 2008, and the Sorauren shop, opened in 2013, now sell food, beer and wine in addition to coffee. Both locations also morphed into bottle shops when the province partially liberalized alcohol sales in 2020.
Fortier roasted coffee beans out of the Nassau location for 10 years, and the company’s roasting operation has since shifted to Scarborough, she adds.
The decision is also partially personal, Galiatsos continues, as she found it harder to devote more time to the Kensington Market location, which is further away from her home in the west end, while expanding I Deal’s food and drink offerings and raising kids during the pandemic.
She says the Nassau shop “really slowed down” during the first year of the pandemic compared with the other two locations, but customers returned in greater numbers this summer as public health restrictions eased.
“The business was still doing relatively well, it just wasn’t doing great,” she says, adding she didn’t feel she could expand the Kensington Market shop in similar ways given how business dropped off.
“I became less a part of the Kensington community because of proximity. I didn’t feel like I had my finger on the pulse there anymore,” Galiatsos explains. “So much change has happened there, some of which I love. Even though the change is happening, on our little pocket of Nassau I didn’t feel like I could make those changes there too.”
I Deal Coffee’s last day at 84 Nassau will be August 10. But as the original location closes, a new I Deal brand is opening elsewhere in the city with a highly local focus.
I Deal On The Park to open on Sorauren
Next week, Galiatsos will soft launch I Deal On The Park at 250 Sorauren across from the playground at Charles G. Williams Park and the larger Sorauren Park, which hosts a farmer’s market every Monday.
“It’s a park-themed neighbourhood provisions store,” she says. “It will have coffee as the anchor, but as a parent it’s the shop I dream about. I can go in, get a couple groceries, get a soft-serve ice cream, a coffee and pick up some household items that are fun – and maybe a ball for the park.”
Sorauren Park has also become a major outdoor hangout spot for west enders during the pandemic, attracting a diverse crowd of families, dog owners and people in the 20s and 30s in need of safe places to gather and exercise outside.
“It’s become a lot more diverse,” Galiatsos says. “It was more so families before this year.”
I Deal On The Park is a block and a half north of I Deal Coffee on Sorauren, but will not offer wine and beer and the menu will have a greater emphasis on sandwiches.
Customers will still be able to find I Deal Coffee in Kensington Market at 4 Life Natural Foods, which will sell the brand’s fresh-roasted beans as well as brewed coffee.
Read I Deal Coffee’s farewell message to Kensington Market below: