Anti-capitalist cafe famous for letting customers pay what they like goes bust

The Anarchist Cafe in Toronto will close at the end of May

Abe Asher
Tuesday 16 May 2023 18:36 BST
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The Anarchist Cafe, an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial cafe in downtown Toronto, will close its doors for good at the end of May.

In a statement posted to the cafe’s website, owner Gabriel Sims-Fewer wrote that a lack of personal generational wealth and seed capital from “ethnically bankrupt” sources left the cafe unable to survive the slow winter season or achieve sustainable long-term growth.

Nevertheless, Mr Sims-Fewer wrote that running The Anarchist has been an “amazing experience.”

“The Anarchist has been a huge success in every way I hoped, and has given me so much inspiration and education that I plan to put to use in future projects,” Mr Sims-Fewer wrote. “Keep an eye on the Instagram page to see what I end up doing next!”

The Anarchist opened in March of last year with a goal of making third-wave, specialty coffee drinks accessible to working-class and poor people. The cafe offered pay-what-you-can drip coffee alongside a range of lattes, teas and pastries. It also carried radical books, prints, and merchandise. People were not required to make a purchase at the cafe to use its restroom facilities or rest in the space.

The operation of the cafe for its 14-month existence was made possible in large part by Pop Coffee Works, which allowed Mr Sims-Fewer to take over and run its pre-existing cafe for free for six months in 2022 and discounted its rent in the months that followed.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Pop Coffee Works, my coffee supplier and landlords, for their generosity and patience; they could easily have sold this space, or rented for more than twice what they’ve charged me, so this place wouldn’t have existed without them,” Mr Sims-Fewer wrote on the website. “They roast the best coffee in the city, so please continue to support them if you buy coffee beans.”

The Anarchist Cafe garnered a number of positive reviews for the quality of its coffee and atmosphere, and the announcement of its closure was mourned by a number of its fans on Instagram.

“This is such a great space,” one commenter, Anita Agrawal, wrote. “I’m very sorry to see this go. Loved picking up zines from here.”

Mr Sims-Fewer, who worked for years in the coffee business in British Columbia before opening The Anarchist Cafe, ended his message on the cafe’s closure with a reminder of its core operating principles.

“F*** the rich,” he wrote. “F*** the police. F*** the state. F*** the colonial death camp we call ‘Canada.’”

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