Since leaving the University of Waterloo in 1999, I’ve had no reason to venture into KW (Kitchener-Waterloo) and visit old haunts. Every now and then my Toronto friends, who also spent some time in KW, venture to the Etobicoke William’s and tell me and a flood of memories hit me.
With gas prices surging, lack of fast (enough) transit to Etobicoke, and time constraints, I had to visit the new Queen’s Quay location that Leo warned was really small.
No kidding. The coffee shop shares a space with some really quiet pet museum and it feels more like the museum’s coffee shop rather than their own brand. I knew William’s had rebranded by a quick visit to their website William’s Coffee Pub → William’s Fresh Cafe.
What did I expect? A large corner spot in a plaza near Waterloo campus, a shop to call its own. Massive private booths where we slide in with our bookbags full of nerdy engineering and computer science textbooks and settle into an evening of studying. Large apothecary jars of loose leaf tea were displayed behind the large counter. We ordered hot food like sandwich and salad and the server knew where we sat based on the oversized placard clipped on an oversized photo clip stand.
Perhaps the Etobicoke location is different/better.
I think my memories of the Waterloo shop are fond due to the social experiences back there, of a different and innocent time. The William’s was new (to Waterloo) and open 24 hours so we crazy engineering students could head there after dinner when temptations like primetime TV and gaming back at the dorm were strongest. It’s my fondest (and oldest) working in a coffee shop memory and I’ll note back then we were not all armed with laptops and smartphones.
I really wish I had gotten to a real (?) William’s–see how the brand truly changed and reflect on what’s changed in my life. Oh, a lot on both our parts.