Cozy Cafe

Today my morning was full of Cozy Cafe.  First I received this note from DECA member and my friend, Helen, who had Cozy Cafe cater a party on the weekend…

“I was hosting a party for 80 people and needed help with the food!  A frequent visitor to Cozy Cafe, I had noticed a sign that said they did catering and thought I would ask about it.  I am so glad that I did!  Vera and Slavicia were so helpful in choosing what and how much to order.  They have a huge variety and were flexible to what I wanted and needed.  The food was freshly made and not only was it delicious, but it also looked great (my photos don’t do it justice).  They are very creative and thoughtful about how things will work together in terms of taste and presentation.  And to top it all off, their prices are very reasonable.  The food was a huge hit at our party and I would recommend their catering to anyone.”

Then I opened up the Toronto Star to see Catherine Porter’s Cozy column

A Cozy Corner That Warms A Danforth Community

By Catherine Porter

I set out from my sleepy home early yesterday morning to make bread with the Cozy Café sisters and dance.

Yes, dance —in a line, “kolo” style, hands joined, chests proud like a turkey, while the multigrain dough rises and the challah tumbles in a mixer.

The dancing is their secret ingredient, transforming their customers into friends.

It’s likely what has saved their business — so far.

“It’s the magic circle,” says Slavica Bodiroga, the willowy one, shaping the still-warm dough into balls. “The more you dance, the more energy you have.”

“This is the energy,” agrees her older sister, Vera Krasabac, who is the pastry expert and the dreamer, the one who leans over a counter, hand on chin, talking to customers. “We give a lot. We are still giving even though we are broke. There are things we appreciate. We are happy. That’s why we dance.”

The sisters are from Serbia. Krasabac came first, Bodiroga had to follow, such is their love. They started baking bread for survival — they were too broke to afford anything but pre-sliced rye from the local Valumart, which even their children refused to eat.

“In our culture, bread means a lot,” says Krasabac. “Our bakeries are open 24 hours and there are always people in them. We always eat fresh bread.”

Next came the pastries and the cakes and the spanikopita, stretched to two metres.

They opened a European-style delicatessen at the cheap end of the Danforth, near Woodbine, where the boutiques are filled with second-hand clothes, because the price was right. They named it the Cozy Café, but there was no money for Starbucks-style lounge chairs or mood lighting. What made it cozy is them.

“You can taste the love in the food,” says Paul Zevenhuizen, a violinist with the Canadian Opera Company who drops in twice a day to get his tray filled up with lasagna and croissants and Tuscan soup, half of which he isn’t asked to pay for. “I worry their generosity be their undoing.”

He was right to be worried. Three weeks ago, the electricity was cut. They hadn’t paid their bill.

“It was dark; it was quiet,” says Krasabac, 45. “We sat on the couch and laughed for five minutes. Then we fell asleep.”

“It wasn’t depressing,” says Bodiroga, 37. “You have to look at the other side. It was a day off.”

Two days later, one of their regulars asked about the blackout. They told him the truth. He is a contractor, it turns out. Next weekend, he’s redoing their floor and electrical wiring for free.

A local graphic designer is planning a new sign and brand for the store. A nearby pet store owner is offering coupons to her customers for the café. And while I stepped out yesterday to take my daughter to school, Zevenhuizen dropped off a $1000 cheque.

What we lack in style in the east end, we make up for in community. We savour the good things we have. (An admission: I regularly dash into the Cozy en route to work to write out their specials on a chalk board, because I have nice penmanship and I am smitten, too.)

“Even in my country, I never had that kind of love,” says Krasabac.

With all this talking, we don’t get down to dancing till after the lunch rush, the last of the schnitzel frying on the stove. They choose a cowboy song.

The sisters grab my hands, one on each side, and we shuffle to the right, faster and faster, until Bodiroga barks and Krasabac twists her arm around like the bread mixer.

The woman who works at the nearby bulk store pokes her head into the kitchen. She’s asked the sisters for their secret to happiness, which glows all the way down the block, she says. She now has her answer, watching us dance.

“This is the part of the puzzle I’ve been wondering about,” she says. “It’s this neighbourhood. And you are part of it.”

0 comments to “Cozy Cafe”
  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Cozy Cafe « deca diaries --

  2. Cozy Cafe is just a treasure. The food is incredible, VERY reasonably priced, and the two sisters are charming beyond belief. I wish them nothing but success.

  3. The Ontario Folk Dance Association

    and the Cozy Café and Bakery
    present an evening of

    Kolos, Coffee and Confections

    Sat. March 12, 2011
    8 – 10 p.m.

    Location: Kimbourne Park United Church
    200 Wolverleigh Blvd., Toronto
    Access via door with the sloped ramp, facing Wolverleigh

    Door Fee (refreshments included):
    Adults $10 / OFDA Members $8
    Students $5; Pre-schoolers Free

    Join us for a night of request dancing (both Serbian and International) and Great Baked Goodies.

    The Cozy Café and Bakery, located at the southwest corner of Danforth & Woodbine, was recently featured in a Toronto Star article. Serbian born sisters, Vera and Slavica, who operate the café are expert kolo dancers, as well as talented cooks and bakers. They will join in the dancing and will also be catering this special evening, bringing examples of the sweet and savoury delectables that can be found in their establishment.

    ***New Dancers: we’ll have dance instruction, so all can participate.***
    For info e-mail:

    Kimbourne Park United Church is located 1 1/2 short blocks from Coxwell Subway station. Limited residential street parking available, but Free parking on Danforth Ave. after 6 pm, and there’s a Municipal parking lot on the north side of Danforth next to Shoppers Drug Mart. Carpooling /subway is recommended.

    Please note, to protect the floor at the church, wear soft, non-marking shoes such as dance shoes or runners. Spike heels or clogs are not permitted.

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