The opening of a new café/bar at Mutual and Gould streets could rival students’ favourite campus restaurants Ram in the Rye, and Oakham House.
Page One café is the brainchild of Jennifer Reynolds and Firas Arafat, who met in the Merchandise Building eight years ago, and have loved the neighbourhood ever since. They decided to open a café in the same building after they noticed there was a lack of coffee shops and bars in the immediate area.
“We want to be an alternative, rather than just another coffee shop in the area, and promote local,” says Arafat.
Page One won’t just be your run-of-the-mill café though. Arafat and Reynolds are also serving craft beers and healthy meals. They hope the variety will make their downtown spot a place for students and people of the community.
Reynolds wrote most of her PhD dissertation in coffee shops, and said that starting and completing a lot of schoolwork in cafés inspired her to call the café Page One. Together, Reynolds and Arafat say Page One means new beginnings, whether it be a new business venture, a first date, or the first stop on a night out in the city.
The café/bar is located closer to Ryerson’s International Living/Learning Centre, and Pitman Hall residence buildings than campus food and drink spots The Ram in the Rye, Oakham Café, and Balzac’s Coffee. Though the Ram and Oakham are popular among students, Reynolds and Arafat don’t seem to think there will be any competition between the businesses. They say they will try to compete with Oakham, and the Ram’s student-friendly pricing.
Food and beverage manager of the Ram and Oakham, Rick Knapp, says that given its proximity to the campus restaurants, there could be competition between the similar businesses. But Knapp says the quality of the food, reasonable prices, and daily specials at the Ram/Oakham will keep students interested.
“Oakham and the Ram are comfortable places that feel like home,” says Knapp.
Arafat says the food selection at Page One will also give people in the area different options if they choose to dine out.
“I suffer from gluten problems and we also wanted to give people a variety of dairy-free, and gluten-free options,” says Reynolds, who adds the café will also cater to students who want a healthy alternative to their usual dining options.
Arafat and Reynolds are hoping for Page One to open before the end of November. This means students will soon have another place to unwind on campus, just in time for exam season.