The Cafe Calmo popup cafe brought Little Italy’s relaxed pace to three other busy Toronto neighbourhoods during the morning rush hour (between 7:30 am and 10:30 am) between September 20 and 23. The popup introduced Little Italy’s leisurely lifestyle to the downtown core, offering a serene cafe sanctuary and some free espressos and Caffe Americanos to frenzied morning commuters.
Everything about Cafe Calmo — from the impossibly friendly street team to the accordion player to the relaxed cafe setting — was designed to grind foot traffic to a halt. And, to ensure that patrons could really slow down and take their time to enjoy their coffees, Cafe Calmo also provided them with “late notes” to give to their employers that explained why they are late for work or why they've been missing from their desks. The coffee popup was created to celebrate the rebrand of the iconic Toronto Neighbourhood, both of which were developed in association with Toronto-based creative agency Blackjet Inc.
“Everything is fast-paced today. Things happen quickly on College Street too, but Little Italy BIA found that there’s a bigger idea uniting the community: it’s a nice place to slow down and spend time in,” says Lenny Pasqualino of the Little Italy BIA. “Little Italy has delicious food options, stylish boutique shops, and a very European sense of comfort and familiarity. And now, with the rebranding, there’s never been a better time for people to come for a visit.”
Little Italy is very much a neighbourhood in transition. In the 1960s, Little Italy was a working-class Italian neighbourhood, and also Toronto’s Italian cultural hub. But since the 1980s, as residents became more affluent and moved out of the city, and younger families and trendy restaurants and cafés moved in, the neighbourhood has struggled with its identity, and has not updated its branding since the 1980s. But one theme that unites its working-class Italian roots and its eclectic vibe today, is the idea of slowing down to enjoy.
"Go Slowly,” is the tagline at the heart of the new branding developed for Little Italy by Blackjet, which also includes the phrases “Sip Slowly” and “Eat Slowly.” The identity was refined to retain the neighbourhood’s Italian roots, and modernized to be more inclusive of the eclectic nature of the new College St. A rebranding of the annual "Taste of Little Italy" was implemented this summer and permanent wayfinding signage is currently in development.
“Cafe Calmo was developed to export Little Italy to the rest of Toronto and to remind them to ‘Go Slowly’ and re-visit College Street,” says says Rob Galletta, Managing Partner of Blackjet Inc. “The new branding embraces the laid back pace that Toronto’s Little Italy offers people in the heart of a manic city.”