owner and baristas standing

Red Rocket Coffee owner fighting TTC expropriation with signatures 

The East York café could be destroyed if it or a neighbour is selected for expropriation, its owner says

A local coffee shop owner is fighting expropriation with a petition.

Billy Dertilis has collected 700 signatures to fight the expropriation of his establishment, Red Rocket Coffee, on Danforth Avenue, two minutes from the Greenwood subway station. The expropriation would allow the TTC to add a new subway entrance and exit in the space of current businesses or homes.

That process could impact up to 10 locations in the area, Toronto-Danforth Councillor Mary Fragedakis said.

The selection of locations considered for expropriation is not made by the TTC. “It is a working group made up of local residents who are developing recommendations for a second exit location for Greenwood Station,” she wrote in an email.

1364 Danforth Avenue
Red Rocket Coffee is one of 10 locations being considered for the expropriation process.

Dertilis’s business could be affected in two ways. If the property next door to his coffee shop is selected for expropriation, the construction would affect foot traffic for his business. The other, far worse option, is that his shop will be torn down. Either one is troublesome.

“It would impact people’s access, and additionally it would not be a pleasant experience to come and have a coffee when you’re hearing the sounds of construction next door,” he said.

So far, Dertilis hasn’t presented the petition to a higher body. He’s been to public meetings and has spoken with TTC officials about the matter, but he wants to make sure he delivers the petition and his concerns in the correct manner.

“I don’t want to be one of those voices clamouring for attention and making a fuss at a public meeting,” he said. “I know we have many channels for communications, and I’m just sitting tight waiting to see where the process leads.”

Dertilis has also received a lot of support from the community. Customers continue to frequent the cafe, a place he says people call “a home away from home.”

The once-struggling stretch of businesses has now become a busy one. “This strip of the Danforth had trouble restarting for a long time, and we’re finally seeing some organic business success along this strip,” he said.

But Dertilis now fears that businesses in the area won’t be able to survive the difficulties of the expropriation process.

A retail ecosystem “is fragile,” he said.

“No one can deny the impact it has on small businesses.”