In this local business spotlight we discover how a chance encounter between a Cabbagetown property owner and a Newmarket business duo resulted in a very special croissant shop.
It was roughly a decade ago that Mike and Olyana met. As many modern romances do, theirs came to be thanks to a dating website. Regardless of who liked, swiped, tapped, clicked or messaged first, the two were meant to be.
Mike was a business owner operating a small distribution company with a business partner and Olyana was a dental hygienist. When not at work, baking at home was a frequent activity and produced some delectable treats the two could share.
Within the first year of their relationship the idea of owning a cafe/bakery emerged and eventually Mike and Olyana decided enough talk, they were doing it!
In 2011 they opened their first business in Newmarket. It was less focused on croissants than the present day TASSO and more so on typical cafe assortments.
One day a Cabbagetown property and business owner was in Newmarket for a meeting. She stopped into Mike and Olyana’s cafe and, having enjoyed her order, began to chat with the two and inquired if they had ever considered opening in downtown Toronto. She had a space and thought they would be perfect for Cabbagetown.
After seeing the Cabbagetown location and connecting well with their new potential landlord, Mike and Olyana decided to move their business. They would have to start building a base of local clients all over again, but they felt it was a good move. It took time trying to figure out the right product focus. Originally opened as a coffee shop, it became clear that their croissants were getting all the attention and more and more were needed to fill the demand. That’s when things started to shift…
Today TASSO focuses on croissants and less on coffee, although it is still available. The vast majority of their curated offering is made from a croissant dough base. We asked what makes their croissants so good and expected to be told it was a secret. Instead, Mike jokingly admitted even he did not know! He explained they use simple ingredients and everything is made and rolled by hand. (We’re still convinced there is a secret ingredient and will make ourselves available for further “product testing.”) The process is continuous and keeps them busy starting most working days as early as 4am. From prep to baking and finally selling, it all takes place in their approximately 250 square foot kitchen/shop. Talk about working closely with your partner!
They open Friday – Sunday, usually at or just before 9am and close when they sell out. Many customers line up as early as 45 minutes before open. It is not just locals. In some cases people report travelling from up to an hour away, combining their search for the perfect croissant with other Toronto activities.
Today the small kitchen and two hard working business owners operate at full capacity, churning out up to a couple hundred pastries a day. In order to accommodate as many customers as possible and to be fair, everyone is served on a first come first served basis and are limited to eight items.
Often, but thankfully not too often, a few people at the end of the line are politely told the shop has unfortunately sold out. Then the door is closed and a sign is hung reading “Sorry, sold out!” Mike reports that when this happens, people are very understanding and he often sees them the following day, albeit earlier.
Both Mike and Olyana value their regulars, estimating there are 200 people who they see on a consistent basis. These 200 people have supported them and allowed them to do what they love, bake. Yes there are line ups and things might feel exclusive at times, but to these two business owners that’s not the goal. Instead they value the opportunity it provides them with to do what they love.
In case you are wondering, yes, once in a while there are few items leftover, allowing them to enjoy their tasty work before starting the prep, bake and sell process all over again. Find Mike and Olyana’s TASSO at 540 Parliament Street.
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