Toronto “Anti-Capitalist” Coffee Shop With “Pay What You Can” Model Closing After One Year Of Business

Sydney Watson

A self-styled “anti-capitalist” coffee shop in Toronto has announced it will close its doors at the end of the month.

The Anarchist cafe, owned by Gabriel Sims-Fewer, announced on the shop’s website and Instagram that the business will close on May 30 after only one year of operation.

It’s been an amazing experience, connecting with so many great community members, sparking desperately needed debate, raising the blood pressure of Conservatives (that includes you, “anarcho-capitalists” and “Libertarians”), fulfilling the dream of most service workers by not having to tolerate the presence of professional class-traitors (pigs and military), and experimenting with living and working in ways that don’t enthusiastically embrace the pure misanthropy of Capitalism,” the website statement reads.

“Unfortunately, the lack of generational wealth/seed capital from ethically bankrupt sources left me unable to weather the quiet winter season, or to grow in the ways needed to be sustainable longer-term.”

Sims-Fewer goes on to thank the cafe’s coffee supplier and landlords. He also thanks his family, friends and partners, without whom he claims he would be “dead” or “unhoused.”

The statement ends with, “Fuck the rich. Fuck the police. Fuck the state. Fuck the colonial death camp we call ‘Canada’.”

The Anarchist coffee shop opened in March 2022 and describes itself as an “anti-capitalist, anti-colonial cafe, shop and radical community space on stolen land.”

In addition to food and drink, the cafe also carries “radical” books, art, stickers, buttons, jewellery, clothing and tote bags.

The owner indicated on the website that carrying “commodities” was distressing for him, but was determined to keep prices as low as possible.

Sims-Fewer said that when the shop opened he hoped to grow the business into a “worker-owned and operated co-op” where every employee was paid the same and all business decisions were made by staff.

Sims-Fewer also introduced a “pay what you can” system where customers could choose the amount to pay for particular drinks. He reasoned this would be “subsidized” by more expensive drinks.

On the website, he wrote, “I hate how everything in specialty coffee is so inaccessible to working class people, and inhospitable to everyone but the white upper middle class. That’s why I started doing “pay what you can” drip coffee, which loses me money, but is subsidised [sic] by the more expensive drinks. That’s also why I continue to scrutinise [sic] my prices and look for opportunities to lower them.”

He hoped that when the cafe hired more workers, he’d be able to create more drinks and do “across-the-board” price cuts.

The Anarchist required “proof of vaccination” at first launch in order for customers to “dine-in.” But, it allowed people to use the bathroom and “hang out” in the cafe without making a purchase.

In order to offset being a straight, white man, Sims-Fewer said he wanted to ultimately hire people who “aren’t white, cisgender, heterosexual men, make them equal owners, and follow their lead in making the place less white-male-centered than the industry standard.”

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