It’s a sad and exciting day. One of my very best friends is closing up his downtown shop to reopen at a new location less than a block away. I’m always pleased to see folks who are pursuing their passion succeed and thrive. It’s even better when it’s someone who is near and dear to you. The minute Tony told me he was moving, I was excited for him. But moments later, there was a heaviness in my heart. His little shop has become a bit of a second home for me, and there are memories in every corner. On a hot summer day, I made my way to Love Love Food Shop for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the place. It wasn’t particularly fancy or in order. Pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and mismatched furniture from one room to the next. But there was a feeling of comfort in every seat. In the weeks that followed, not only did I find a new place to lunch, I discovered new friends and a place to share great memories with those who have a special place in my heart.
As I grow older, I find it more difficult to build meaningful relationships. I no longer seek friendships based solely on similarities and interests. While it’s nice to have some commonalities, I’m in search of people who encourage, teach and enlighten. I found myself laughing at one of Love Love’s tables regularly with a fancy pants lawyer. If you’ve ever been around Terry, I’m sure you’ve laughed with him too. Probably because he randomly breaks into song, has epic dance moves or because of his punny jokes. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who’s found comfort and joy in his laughter. His ridiculous humour won me over from the very start, and over time, (and too many cups of coffee to count), Terry became one of my very best friends. He always has a way of giving it to me straight, he’ll ask the hard questions, and he never lets me ignore my feelings. If I’m pissed off, he allows me to vent. If I’m sad, he gives me a chance to wallow in self-pity. If I’m over joyous, he always lets me light up the room with excitement. And of course, he’s always been good for a laugh. I’ve never had to pretend to be anything but myself sitting across from that man. “You know you hear yourself talk when you say things like that, right?” (Any time I engaged in negative self-talk.) Undoubtedly, these are all signs of a lifelong friend. And imagine. All of this because of a coffee spot.
Tony and I didn’t take long to connect either. From the very beginning he was always very kind and generous, but what really drew me in was his creative energy. I’m telling you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that every single cake he has baked has been made with so much love. It’s a wonderful thing to see people you care for flourish. And while the days can sometimes be stressful and the burden not always light, I know his hard work is paying off. Over the last couple of years, Tony has served as a reminder to never stop chasing your dreams. He’s always pushing me to stay focused on my goals and always reminding me how much he cares. Random heart emojis make their way to my inbox regularly, and notes of encouragement always put a smile on my face. He once drove through a snowstorm to bring me warm brownies just to cheer me up. Did I mention I live a half hour away? Tony never lets me entertain a pity party for too long. He’s pretty quick to tell me to suck it up and shake it off. And while some days I’m abruptly taken back by his tough love approach, I appreciate it. It’s important to have people who can be honest with you. We have the kind of friendship that compares to a brother and sister, and I’m incredibly grateful that I continued to walk through his doors that summer.
As time went on, I felt compelled to tell everyone about my findings at Love Love. Frequent social posts and check-ins because, well, they don’t call me Connexionista for nothing. Any chance I get to share details of the people, places, and things I love, I do! I’ve enjoyed brunch with Sammy on several occasions. I’ve brought Olivia over for cupcakes and smiley face pancakes. I’ve stopped by with mom for fancy preserves and chips. I’ve insisted that Chad, or anyone else for that matter, leave cake making to Tony. Oh, and he’s catered food for us on more occasions than I can count. Did I mention cooking classes? Seriously. The list goes on.
When I walked into Love Love Food Shop that day, I walked in for a coffee fix. Happily, I found so much more. And while this is the end of the bakery on Second Street, its new home is a blank canvas for Tony to fulfill even bigger dreams and for me to continue building lasting memories with my favourite people. Truth is, I’ll Love Love that shop no matter where it is because it’s the people I share my time with who make it home.
The shop is now closed on Second Street East, but will reopen on Monday morning at the old Moustache Joe’s location on Pitt Street.
Coffee count: If you managed to listen to all of my ramblings –> 10 points. You’ll get 25 points more if you head over to Love Love on Monday for a cup of coffee and treat. Not from around here? Support a local business and pop into your favourite shop. Small businesses can certainly use your help.