Posted on July 11, 2012 by Marina
As an independent Canadian brewery, we’re lucky to have met many like-minded friends across the nation on our journey.
Our cofounders, the “3 fired guys”, may have gotten fired from their first brewery but that didn’t stop them so they continued to pursue their dreams and passions.
The friends we make along the way all have one thing in common with our cofounders – they don’t take no for an answer and invest their time into what matters the most to them.
We want to help tell their unique stories.
The Only Cafe
The Only Cafe is a craft beer friendly restaurant located in the heart of Danforth at 972 Danforth Avenue in Toronto. Steam Whistle had a minute to chat with the cafe’s owner, Fabian Skidmore.
How did The Only Café get started?
Jerome Ackhurst opened it almost 30 years ago. He sold it and opened The Only Cafe in Peterborough and is still there, but I think that our current vision is in the same spirit: Something for everybody, no pretention, and micro brews.
What were you involved in to previously to running The Only Café and what inspired you to change directions?
Cooking, serving, bartending, teaching english, teaching web and graphic design, doing graphic design. My friend bought it (the cafe). Before that, I came here often. You know, to drink. My friend (James) finally convinced me to work here despite my fears of ruining my hangout.
Where did the decision to take it a step further with the Inn & Coffee house come from?
A lot of travellers have been making it a point to come to the bar for years. Usually because we got a write-up in a travel publication in Europe or Japan. It felt like a natural fit to open the Backpackers Inn.
The coffee house came naturally as well. It seemed like a logical addition.
Can you expand on these concepts ?
The One is an extention of the only which is almost 4 years old now. It’s under the same license and both sides operate as one unit, but although the space extends our capacity, The One in the Only Coffee House is a very chill coffee house that serves up top shelf espresso bevies.
The Backpacker’s Inn was inspired by travel and everything that’s great about backpacking. Also, it seemed fitting to accomodate the many international travelers that have historically made it a point to check out The Only over the years.
Can you describe The Only Café to someone who has never been there?
It’s not as ecclectic as has often been proclaimed. I think eccentricity is often confused with informal and relaxed. Sure there are a lot of artists, writers and musicians who frequent The Only, but there are equal numbers of drywallers, contractors and painters. One of the many things they all have in common is that they don’t want formal restaurant service, extravagant cocktails or a lavish meal, because they want to be in a place that they can kick back, listen to some good music, drink good beer and be comfortable.
What was the biggest challenge and reward?
Challenge: Not working when hanging out.
Reward: Hanging out, not working.
What has been your favourite event hosted at The Only Café?
We have live music fairly regularly as well as guided beer tastings and peotry readings, but my personal favourite events by far would have to be the seasonal Beer Fests. When planning a party with friends, one often considers the chemistry created by the combination of certain guests: there is an unrivaled warmth created with the blending of craft beer enthusiasts and participants.
Can you describe your beer menu and why you wanted to include such an extensive selection?
The selection is constantly evolving and growing according to what is available. The Ontario scene has started to explode in the last few years, so we’ve had to increase our all-local draught line-up from 16 to 25. Import and private order agencies has come a long way as well; we’re up to around 230 bottled selections. Hopefully the growth is just the beginning and we’ll need to continuously meet that growth.
Favourite part about running The Only Café?
The people. The regulars are all friends of mine and have been before I was at The Only on my side of the bar. The newer visitors have become friends, as well as all the brewers, reps and industry connections. These are all people I can just hang with. The foundation of everything is people, and the better people gel, the stronger the foundation.
What advice can you give someone who is looking to pursue their own passions?
Take time for yourself – obsessing isnt all it’s cracked up to be.