What’s in a name? Quirky East Toronto business names draw curiosity and customers

Glory Hole Dougnuts on Gerrard Street East, just west of Coxwell Avenue. The name is a "hilarious aspect" of the business, says founder Ashley Jacot De Boinod. Photo by Alan Shackleton.


Earlier in 2024, Raise the Root organic market at 1164 Queen St. E. actually become synonymous with lower-priced produce.  Media like CityNews, Toronto Life and blogTO ran stories on shoppers feeling gouged at big-name food stores, then finding tasty relief – often for 50 per cent less – at this Leslieville alternative. And the store’s very moniker added to the interest.

Angela Donnelly, co-owner of Raise the Root, said, “People do comment on the name, saying that it is fun and clever and that they like the play on root veggies.”

To first name the store, Donnelly had gone right to her customers. A couple of Leslievillians, “Andrew and Christine,” won a gift card for their suggestion of “Raise the Root.” The logo was designed by Raj Grainger.

This focus on roots also reflects Donnelly’s fresh-food background. She ran one of Toronto’s first organic delivery businesses, Front Door Organics, for 19 years. In 2014 she and partner JJ Sheppard made the leap to retail.

Donnelly said they like the store name “because it’s unusual and funky – words we feel are descriptive of us as the owners! JJ is a musician and loves that our store name is a play on ‘raise the roof’.”

Many of the names of vendors carried by the store are equally memorable: Alter Eco, GimME, Grinning Face, My Little Chickpea, The Last Straw.

For more info, please go to  https://www.raisetheroot.ca/

Raise the Root Organic Market on Queen Street East in Leslieville. Photo by Angela Donnelly.

Lazy Daisy’s at 1515 Gerrard St. E. also has a rural feel. The café (opened in 2011) is a homage to the owner’s grandparents and her time with them on the family farm in Midhurst, Ontario. Dawn Chapman loved the large, placid Guernsey cow she milked with her uncle Howard.

One evening, Chapman said, she and her husband James were doing some fun countryside word association. Names like “The Rusty Fork,” “The Copper Kettle,” “The Barn Door” flew back and forth.

“Then I shouted, ‘What about the cow, ‘Daisy’s?’ and he shouted back, ‘Lazy Daisy’s!’ I immediately loved it.”

From a business perspective and with the daisy logo (designed by Anne Onn), it’s a memorable name with a relaxed vibe, said Chapman.

“Our byline is ‘not lazy, just really really laid back!’ The daisy is a happy flower, with echoes of summertime, innocence and a simpler way of life. People connect to this symbolism so when they come to Daisy’s it’s not just about the food, it’s about a feeling and an experience.”

Some customers call the venue Lazy’s, The Daisy, or LD’s. The white-and-yellow visuals of the restaurant identity also reflect eggs, one of the eatery’s main offerings. And the name novelty shows in the menu, with items like Mother Clucker, Hungry Farmer and Daisy Duke.

The café launched take-home Grandma’s Bread n’ Butter Pickles and Daisy’s Buttermilk Pancake mix. Chapman also is producing the café’s bake-at-home buttermilk biscuits (package-designed by Kathleen Parle) to homes and grocers across Ontario.

For more info, please go to https://lazydaisyscafe.ca/

Laisy Daisy’s on Gerrard Street East just west of Coxwell Avenue. Photo by @DOM Productions.

Morning Parade Coffee Bar at 1952 Gerrard St. E. (and 256 Crawford St., west end), also is known for its merch like gift-box breakfast-at-home kits and tote bags with signature artwork and logo.

For café co-owner Elektra Simms, it was a dream come true to quit her day job in 2018, and open a coffee bar in 2019. But what to name it?

Simms and husband Paul went back and forth on options. Then one day Paul heard an interview with the band Morning Parade. The group was inspired by the morning commute two band-mates once shared. “They said it felt like everyone was traveling their own morning parade,” said Elektra. “We loved the sound of it. It resonated.”

There has been some curiosity. Some people “ask if it’s a reference to the morning parade check in/inspection sometimes done in the military or firefighter troops.”

But Elektra Simms feels the name (with logo by Santarém Design & Advertising) reflects their coffee business well.  “People visit us as part of their daily routines” – whether that’s for a rest, an energy boost, a meet with friends. “We’ve reflected the name in the murals in our two locations, depicting faces of different sizes, shape and colours.”

For more info, please go to https://www.morningparade.ca/

Morning Parade coffee bar on Gerrard Street East just east of Woodbine Avenue. Photo by Elektra Simms.

And then there’s the doughnut store at 1505 Gerrard Street East. Some people may think Glory Hole is associated with what’s left after a doughnut centre is sold as a ball, as some stores do. But the meaning of glory hole is more salacious, suggesting images of hasty sexual encounters in seedy places. Why choose such a name to serve a neighbourhood?

“This is a question I get asked a lot,” said founder Ashley Jacot De Boinod. “I’m definitely a cheeky person to begin with, but my partner is also in advertising and we collaborated on it.”

She said the shop’s name rarely brings a negative reaction. “But it does happen. I love the prank phone calls we get from teens. It’s a hilarious aspect of the business.”

De Boinod, who’s been in the hospitality industry 20 years, “started with coffee,” and took the Chef’s Training Program at George Brown College. After working all over Toronto, from line cook to sous pastry, she did a crowdfunding campaign to get her original Parkdale store going.

“Doughnuts were a natural fit for me as I like the challenge yeast offers, and to be frank, I just love them,” she said.

Glory Hole is known for its diverse doughnut offerings, including flavours like S’mores, Hibiscus, Earl Grey-tea and toast-and-butter.

The store’s Gerrard Street signage shows a design rebrand, as done by Rob Dean, partner of De Boinod. Its location reflects where she first lived, and went to school, around the corner.

“The neighbourhood has seen a lot of growth since I was growing up around here and it continues to do so.  Negative or positive, attention is great for a business,” said De Boinod, who offers diverse merchandise, including a “F— Guilt” t-shirt that sold out.

“I feel (the store name) has offered a less serious customer, and lends itself to having a more positive shop culture. If you can’t laugh, what’s the point?”

For more info, please go to https://gloryholedoughnuts.com/

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The Glory Hole opened close to BJ Supermarket. What’s in a name? On Gerrard St., there is a “custom”: if a new restaurant opens and is successful, someone else opens another restaurant with the same name. That is how there was once two Madras Durbar restaurants on Gerrard and several short lived ones beginning with “Lahore Tikka. . .”. I wonder if that is why there are two Desi Burgers today?

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