What’s the deal with the Tree Top African Café on Dundas West?

What’s the deal with the Tree Top African Café on Dundas West?

(Image: Google Maps/screenshot) (Image: Google Maps/screenshot)
 

If you live anywhere near Kensington Market, you’ve probably spent some time wondering about the Tree Top African Café at 620 Dundas Street West. There’s a lot to wonder about: the bushy straw awning, for instance, or the fact that even though it bears the name “café,” it’s never actually sold any food or beverages (or really existed at all, at least according to Google). Lately, though, there’s been some activity in the space (fresh Gatorades in the fridge; chalkboards above the counter), so we decided to do a little sleuthing, and we’ve come up with some answers—and a surprising update.

First, the backstory: the business was purchased in July 2007 by a man named Saikou Saho, who also owns the African drum store next door. He’d noticed a dearth of West African food in Toronto and wanted to fill the niche by opening a casual café. His plans were put on indefinite hiatus, though, when he stumbled into a bunch of municipal red tape, which is why the rustic wooden signage went up but no business ever followed.

Now for the update part. Saho tells us that the Tree Top African Café is finally ready to make its grand debut. He’s got a new partner on board—Toronto-based musician Njacko Backo—and a plan to supply the neighbourhood with coffee, sandwiches and simple West African dishes (steamed-millet breakfast bowls with yogurt; a starchy dish called foufou made with cassava flour). The café will officially open next month, leaving the city with one less vacant storefront to be mildly confused about. Case closed!