Wherein Emilie Bourque stakes out a mysterious snack truck, among other things.

There’s some serious competition brewing between coffee shops in this city. Just think—how many have opened downtown in the past year? Three? Including the Tim Hortons and Starbucks, five? That’s not including café-bar hybrids like Tangled Up in Blue or The Victory. And there are more cafés scheduled to open soon.

While I wouldn’t recommend starting up a local café any time soon, for people who love a cup of coffee, the café boom is definitely providing one thing: choice.

So how do you decide where to go to get your fix?

The most recent wager in the high stakes game comes from Café Mocha, located in the TD building on the corner of Duckworth and Prescott. They recently started offering free use of six laptops with wireless internet, and installed a live feed ticker on the wall—reminiscent of something you’d see on the side of a high rise—displaying stock market quotes and CNN news headlines. Combine that with an executive chef—Darryl Harding—on staff, and wireless headsets for customers to watch movies on one of their two large-screen plasma TVs, and you’ve got a café that is trying hard to please.

The laptops are what blew me away. Owner Larry Daley makes it clear that there aren’t any strict requirements or limits for the laptop use, they are simply there for surfing the ‘net with your cup of joe. It’s also one of several Aliant Hotspots in the downtown core, which gives you “the highest speed signal you can get in the province,” according to Daley.

Let the café wars rage on!

Local hairstylist Timothy Day Howard—who owns and operates Sound Salon Spa with his wife Nancy—was named Canadian Men’s Hairstylist of the Year at the 19th annual Contessa awards in Toronto on November 4th.

Day Howard says he doesn’t measure his success by awards, but admits the contest was worth entering, “to get the salon name out there, and to get my own name out there.” He wanted to inspire other stylists and his own staff to make the leap towards saying ‘This is what I like, this is the aesthetic that I’m into’ and to not be intimidated to document it.

Salon Magazine hosts the Contessas, an annual awards gala produced to recognize all the industry’s best talent in Canada in categories including hairstyling, makeup artistry, nail artistry, and even salon interior design. His win was announced live at the gala, in front of about a thousand of the industry’s top cats.

The winning shots Day Howard submitted (in his first time ever entering the Contessas!) were of three finished looks on local models, taken by local photographer Nate Gates. The inspiration for his shots included work by iconic photographer Robert Doisineau of men during WWII, and evolved into a theme of soldiers from different time periods. To see the first-place photos, check out .

Following up on my love of machines that dispense things I like—à la the wine jukebox at the new Elizabeth Avenue liquor store—I stumbled onto something the other day that I think you need to know…
Sugar Cane Lane now has a fancy new Jelly Belly jellybean dispenser. It’s great. It dispenses 24 different flavours, and you can buy as few or as many as you want of each flavour.
I know I just wrote about their new kiosk in the mall a few weeks ago, and it may seem like I’m candy-obsessed, but… well… who isn’t?

Hey! Remember when people were wondering if the construction on Water Street was going to kill any local businesses?

Well, apparently it has.

Spun T-Shirts closed its doors recently following what the owners said was a 60-70% drop in business over the last four months.

The constant construction at their door since July couldn’t have helped. Owners Darryl Couch and Dave Hancock say they were left with little choice but to watch their business shrivel up, with the city’s only defense being that they ‘kept the sidewalk open.’

Between the dust and noise, no shoppers wanted to come around, they say.

“Some of the larger businesses could probably take a 4 or 5 month loss, but we just couldn’t,” Couch says. He wonders why they couldn’t have had night crews working longer hours to speed up the process and not leave businesses to die.

The good news is, however, the two aren’t giving up completely. They are currently still running their business, without a storefront, by taking orders through e-mail ( They are also in the process of creating a website, to operate as a web-based business, and there’s hope of a possible relocation back downtown, in a new spot, next year.

Recently I’ve been keeping an eye on a mysterious “Snack Wagon” that has appeared downtown on Duckworth Street near King’s Road. It’s parked across the street from the Sir Humphrey Gilbert Building, at a new, dedicated mobile vendor parking space.

I’ve been staking the place out, anxiously waiting for it to open and offer me some snacks to buy—but no such luck for over a week. My best guess is they are opening soon.

All I can tell you is they will likely be selling Coca-Cola products, as the logos and trademarked polar bears all over it indicate. Anyone with information regarding this unsolved mystery should e-mail me.
Stay tuned kids, we’ll get a few snacks out of them someday.

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