Greek-inspired cafe offers full-service bakery and weekend brunches
Local, organic, fresh ingredients; pork and trout smoked on premises; handcrafted cocktails with freshly-squeezed juices and syrups made in-house; fresh-made soups – Cafe Neon, now with two locations, is “definitely a labour of love”, said Rochelle Dixon, general manager of both cafes.
Four years ago, Niki Tsourounakis opened the first Cafe Neon, or “meeting place” in Greek, in the Junction Triangle.
Three weeks ago, the second location launched on Queen West. Along with Dixon, the two focus on freshness and sticking to Greek-inspired offerings.
Dixon has been with the cafe for more than a year. She holds a George Brown College (GBC) culinary management diploma and a general arts and science certificate. “As a company, we find we tend to get a lot of GBC students,” she said.
Alex Shimshon, a graduate of the baking and pastry arts management program, makes Neon’s authentic pastries and breads.
The location in the Junction neighbourhood also gets a lot of students coming in for take-away on their way to school. “We know our customers from chit-chatting with them when they come for coffee,” explained Dixon.
Although the location on Queen Street West is only three weeks old, Dixon said, “everyone has been so welcoming to us in the neighbourhood and we are connecting with them too, being as accessible as possible.”
Starting as a coffee shop, Neon is now offering table service and catering along with weekend brunches and take-out.
According to Dixon, their seasonal salad bowl “Winter Bowl” ($11.75) is by far the most popular item on the menu. Which is natural, given its perfect blend of tender sour beets supplemented by the softness of salty goat cheese, the crispiness of chickpeas and almonds and the sweetness of raisins complemented with a sesame orange dressing.
Their second favourite is the Neon breakfast sandwich ($6.25), a toasted sesame bagel topped with fried egg, bacon, Swiss cheese and greens.
“Our brunch top-seller is pulled pork eggs benedict with coffee gravy and apple slaw, no doubt,” adds Dixon.
Both locations have the same menu. Although the menu is not labeled for dietary restrictions, Dixon said, staff is very knowledgeable and knows each dish in detail. Customers can also compose their own plates.
“Our guests are always able to craft different suggestions,” said Dixon.
A previous headline incorrectly suggested that both Rochelle Dixon and Niki Tsourounakis were graduates of George Brown College. Dixon is a George Brown graduate and the general manager of both cafes, while Tsourounakis is the founder of the cafes.
Cafe Neon (cafeneon.ca)