A former Coffee Time is now a magnet for Toronto's Haitian community.
Not only is La Belle Jacmel, located at 3537 St. Clair Avenue East at Kennedy, now the only Haitian restaurant in Toronto, but it also doubles as a night club, grocery store, mail order service, bakery and charity depot.
I visited La Belle Jacmel last year, when it went by the name St. Clair Bakery. The Haitian trio of Lukas Cineus Jr. and Sr., and their friend Marie Claire, had purchased a tiny Greek and Macedonian bakery in the same strip mall. They kept serving European baked goods and added Haitian take-out meals to the menu.
A few months ago, they took over the much larger former Coffee Time space in the same strip mall. They added a DJ booth and dance floor to the restaurant, which is decked out with over-the-top Renaissance-style paintings and chandeliers put in by one of the previous tenants. At night, young Haitian DJs spin reggae, dancehall, souk and compa music. “We want to redecorate soon to add a more Caribbean style,” says Junior.
Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.