It Happened to Me Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Leveraging Synergies

This morning, I had breakfast at my favourite new cafe, Scene It.
Scene It is two businesses in one, being both a cafe and a travel
agency. The front portion is what’s you’d expect in a cafe: tables and
chairs, comfortable couches and a countert serving coffee and food.

There are some bonuses that although novel, aren’t completely
unexpected in a cafe: a gelato counter featuring the best cappucino
gelato in the area, bookshelves with travel magazines and the largest
library of Lonely Planet travel guides I’ve ever seen, computers which you can use for a small hourly fee and free WiFi.

What you wouldn’t expect in a cafe is travel agency. As you move from
the front to the back of the room, there’s makes a transition from cafe
to office. There’s a desk at the back of the room where you can make
travel arrangements as if you were at a regular travel agency — and
while having a coffee and biscotti!

They use their cafe setting to their advantage: they often have
information nights where someone does a presentation about a travel
destination. It’s the perfect location; after all, would you rather do
it in a stuffy travel agency boardroom or a nice cafe?

Scene It isn’t the first place in the area to run two types of businesses under the same roof.

Tequila Bookworm, located across the street, has been around for years and is a cafe-meets-magazine shop-meets-bouquiniste (a French term for “seller of used books”).

The Chinatown Centre at Sullivan and Spadina
has a computer store that also doubles as an internet cafe in the
basement level. You can buy computer parts and play networked games on
their machines. They do a pretty brisk business with kids, mot of whom
like to play networked first-person shooters and MMORPGs.

R Squared at King and Spadina is a “furniture cafe”:  furniture store (mostly stuff you’d expect to find in Wallpaper* magazine) and cafe all in one.

I haven’t been to Cinecycle in ages. I know that they’re still a movie theatre, but do they still do bike repair too?

Although not technically a single business offering two different services, the nearby Chapters bookstore (Richmond and John Streets) incorporates a Starbucks and will sell you internet access for a fee.

e zone at Queen and Spadina
has the zaniest combination: it’s a bubble tea lounge and hair salon
that also carries a combination of Chinese, Korean and Japanese food.
They’re a little more separate than the other combinations: the hair
salon is downstairs, while the lounge is upstairs.

And finally, one spot that isn’t in my neighbourhood (in fact, it’s not even in Toronto): near 7th and Folsom in San Francsico, almost across the street from the old OpenCola office,
there was a place that was both a bike shop and an arcade specializing
in classic 80’s videogames. When I lived in San Francisco, I bought my
bike there and played far too many games of “Mr. Do”. Is it still there, and does anyone know what it was called?

As you can probably tell, I’m fond of these quirky “synergistic” establishments. Are there any others in Accordion City, or do you have favourites in your town?

21 replies on “Leveraging Synergies”

Here in this area there is the lovely Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street in Boston – they have a great selection of books, including progressive women’s, glbt, and newagey sections, and yummy veggie melts, wine, coffee, etc. etc. – we have walked by it a couple of times together, Joey. Also there is the Milky Way Lounge and Lanes in Jamaica Plain – bar and bowling, far far better bar than most trashy bowling establishments.
Then there are the comedy clubs attached to restaurants, which isn’t all that unusual, unless you are the Kowloon restaurant which is this enormous Chinese restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus – one day, Joey, I will drive you up that road – the comedy club is on the top floor there, not unlike the one at the Hong Kong where Erin often plays – but the Kowloon is just an experience in and of itself. Yikes. I went there after my senior prom. It’s just… unique.
There are probably more, but all I can think of now is cheezy Chinese restaurants of my youth, like Bali Ha’i, once known as “the best kept secret of Lynnfield.”

In Portland, Oregon there exists one of the greatest quirky “synergistic” establishments in all creation. The Bagdad Theater and Pub. It’s a brewpub with the best selection of craft beers I’ve ever found, great pub grub, and a movie theatre. You can actually get a cheesburger and a pint of Terminator Stout, take it into the theatre and eat while watching a movie. I will never understand why there isn’t a place like this in every city in the world. It seems like such a no-brainer.

Also in Portland, Oregon (west coast US) we recently started getting hybrid fast-food joints. So far we have a KFC/A&W and a Long John Silver’s/Taco Bell. Both are under the same roof and share a counter. For example at the Long John Silver’s/Taco Bell you can order a 2 piece fish meal and a soft taco all at once. The ironic thing is that you can’t order a fish taco at the establishment.
The owners of the Bagdad (McMenamins) have a number of hybrid operations all involving their excellent beer and a theater/spa/hotel/golf course/live music depending on the site.

Cafes are becoming so ubiquitous in all business establishments that I no longer consider them synergistic.

I’m waiting for a proctologist with a cafe in the office, just so I can yell out “Fill it to the rim!”

I want to see a combination coffee shop and 1 hour photo lab. It would be perfect. You go in, drop off your rolls, get a coffee, and when you’re done drinking it you pick up your photos. For extra points, figure out how to plug a projetor into the printer and project images as they are printed.
Sadly, now that digital photography has all but taken over, it probably won’t happen…
There is a combination laundromat and coffee shop in my neighbourhood. I’ve never been there for laundry because I have it in my building, but why aren’t there more of those?

Thankfully I didn’t really need that mouthful of coffee just now. It’s much better off in my keyboard.

Once upon a time very long ago I was in Chicago, in this bar with live electric blues … in a bookstore. Or was that Washington DC? Dunno if I liked it: bookstores should be quieter, shouldn’t they?

To add to the Toronto list, there’s a Wendy’s joined with a Tim Horton’s on the Danforth. I’m so sorry I didn’t go in, have a burger at one end of the counter and a donut at the other.
Here in Dublin, the only synergistic establishment I can think of is an easyInternet cafe joined with a Subway. What they do about crumbs in the keyboards, I have no idea.

“Tequila Bookworm, located across the street, has been around for years and is a cafe-meets-magazine shop-meets-bouquiniste”
Nobody ever told me something like that really existed!
It’s a good thing I passed my transfer exam to PhD, because my backup plan was giving up science and opening a used-bookstore-slash-pub-slash-coffee-house.
But mine would also have a music bar.
And, wait a minute, if it’s close to you, it’s also not very far from me!
I need to go to Tequila Bookworm! Where is it exactly?

How could I have forgotten good ol’ Brain Wash? It was right across the street from the OpenCola office, I went there all the time and even did some accordion-assisted stand-up there!

Not a specific business, more of a generic class that I never imagined would have worked well together: Chinese teriyaki chicken and donuts.

Recall in Kingston, Joey, there was a place at the top of University (on Princess) that was a combination laundromat and bar. Not a cute little cafe-style pub, either, more like one those holes in the wall that you always see an old guy in a trucker hat drinking in at 10:30 in the morning.
I think it was called “Lathers” or “Bubbles” or some terrible damn pun like that. What I do remember is laughing every time my housemate left home with the announcement, “I’m going out to do my laundry and get drunk.”

It was called “Scrubbies”, and yes, it was a fine place to slosh and wash. Never did my laundry there, but I did enjoy a pint or two.

Toronto – Polly’s Recycle on Queen East is combination bike store, comic book store, used books and video rental.
I might be thinking of the wrong name, but doesn’t Set me Free have bicycles, clothing (non-bike) and housewares?

Well, I don’t know of anything like that… thank Buddha.
However, we do have an Espresso Shop/Dentist’s Office here in Seattle. I believe it is called simply “Espresso Dentist” but I may be wrong. I have never actually stopped to check it out.

scjody, the Albertsons on Coburg Road in Eugene, Oregon has (a) 30 minutes photo development (b) integrated Starbucks (c) movie rentals (d) salad bar. It’s not a terribly friendly environment, but it’s enough if you need a break and some coffee while your photos are developing. They also have various kiosks for lottery and change counting, so I presume a Kodak or Polaroid kiosk will be showing up someday.

My so caleld combo store is 2 stores, in one space. I own both.
Pollys reCycle/cyclescanada bikes obviously
Not just cds which Cds, dvds, rentals, comicbooks, soft and hardcover books, Vinyl, New and vintage toys and collectibles, some glass ware.. and whatever else I feel like selling.. I have even sold furniture.
Lately I been thinking about adding food or drink into the mix.. hmm

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