Being a Leslieville local going on 10 years and having had a hand in three businesses on the east side, you could say Douglas Tiller knows a thing or two about the neighbourhood. He co-founded local coffee bar Mercury Espresso back in 2006, and also co-owned Morning Glory, a breakfast café along King St. E. He's since parted ways with both of these morning-time spots (owning both an a.m. business and a p.m. business was taking it's toll, he admits) to focus his efforts on Hitch, the cozy, dimly lit bar and private back patio at Queen and Leslie that's become a veritable neighbourhood local since opening in 2013.
What brought you to the neighbourhood in the first place?
My wife and I bought our place here almost a decade ago. We love the feel of Leslieville. It's got all the culture and convenience of living in a big amazing city like Toronto yet it still seems to have the charm and familiarity of a smaller town. It's perfect, really.
Why did you decide to open up a bar in Leslieville?
Well, it seems my MO for opening a business tends to lean towards the selfish side. Back in 2006 my partners and I wanted a good place in the hood to get a coffee so we opened Mercury. That same thought process sort of brought Hitch into existence. While there is no shortage of amazing restaurants and pubs here, which is one of the many reasons why I love Leslieville, there wasn't anything in the way of just a straight-ahead bar. That's what Hitch is — just a local. A place to swing by on your way home or to spend a night out and have a drink or drinks with some familiar faces.
What can people expect coming to Hitch for an evening?
A good time, familiar faces and lots of fun programming like trivia nights, movie nights, DJs and 'Bring Your Own Vinyl.'
Is it a locals bar or do you get people coming from all over town?
First and foremost Hitch is a local and therefore locals make up the main base of our clientele but we seem to get a pretty good turnout of folks from all around the city as well.
What do you think about the neighbourhood's evolution?
I love it. Having been here since 2006 I've seen quite a change over the years. There's definitely a gentrification happening in LV but it's not the big box and chain store type. It's more the young start up type of interesting shops and restaurants, that sort of thing which I suppose is also reflection of the type of people who are moving here which seems to be a lot of new young families. My fear is (and of course this is not exclusive to our neighbourhood) that the skyrocketing house prices is going to make moving to a great place like LV completely unattainable.
Describe a perfect day for you in the 'hood.
It almost always starts at Mercury for coffee or maybe breakfast at the OK OK. If it's Sunday there's the Leslieville Farmers Market. Record shopping at Tiny Record Shop or Discovery. Pick up sandwiches at Completo for a picnic somewhere. Dinner at one of the many great restaurants — Ascari, Gio's, Leslie Jones just to name a few — and then drinks at Hitch, of course.