What’s the deal with the Tree Top African Café on Dundas West?
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!
7 thoughts on “What’s the deal with the Tree Top African Café on Dundas West?”
does this only cater to the West African pallete??
did the poor entrepreneur have to pay rent from 07-14 while wading through red tape?? Seems unfair. Also… My gut says there’s got to be more to this story… 7 years is a long time to wait to start a business??
I love this article because I was just wondering about this cafe. I drove by earlier this week and it finally seemed open.
This place has been around since I was a teen. And always vacant. I’m super stoked for its opening. Yay!
We’re excited too! The grand opening is on Saturday September 20th starting at 1pm
In terms of food, right now the emphasis is on West African dishes however the plan is to expand to cover the whole continent. For beverages, there are coffees and teas from around the continent.
Been there a few times now. Excellent food at great prices.
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