Zoe’s Bakery & Cafe: King Street West

by Amanda Cosco on January 17, 2011

You don’t survive in the food service sector for thirteen years without knowing a thing or two about the key components of a good business: prime location, quality coffee, delicious food, and excellent customer service.

Zoe’s provides all this and more. Not just a coffee shop, Zoe’s Bakery and Cafe at 548 King Street West offers a full dining experience for breakfast and lunch. Don’t be deceived by the cafe’s small storefront; the lower-level space stretches back from King Street into a full-service restaurant, and even includes a boardroom for small business meetings. All this in addition to the fundamentals: great coffee, great coffee, and great coffee.

Zoe’s Bakery—named after owner and manager Shawn Zolberg’s dog—exclusively brews Italian-brand Illy coffee. Illy representative Esther Levy sat down with me to discuss Illy practices, from fair-trade farming to state-of-the-art pressurized packaging. Illy monitors and controls their coffee beans, from the farm to your cup, all in an effort to ensure product quality and consistency.

In a rush? Sit at the front of Zoe’s and enjoy a quick latte and croissant in the cafe-style atmosphere. Got some time? Sit in the back and try their Toronto Life featured roast-beef sandwich ($9.75).

Around noon, the cafe starts to fill up: businesspeople on their lunch break, artists holding creative meetings, or just friends catching up over coffee.

How does Zoe’s compete with the big boy (Starbucks) right across the street? By catering to clientele who are sick of the assembly-line style of most corporate chains. Zoe’s keeps it simple without sacrificing the essentials: quality coffee, excellent service, and a great menu selection.

Free wi-fi ; Monday to Friday 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM ; Saturday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.


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