Author: Marina Darling
Photos Stephen Wild
There’s a new café in town and it’s the place to go for organic coffee, fresh food, and Canadian antiques and artifacts.
Born out of a love for modern-day coffee culture and history, Qrio Antique Shop & Café is a destination unlike any other in Kingston.
Located at 671 Montreal St., Qrio will enthrall you with history and culture. Vidyut (Vid) Banerjee and his wife Mitali, owners of Kingston Coffee House in the Kingston Centre and Springer Market Square, opened Qrio as a passion project.
“It’s a combination of all my passions,” Vid says, explaining his love for history and historical artifacts from Kingston and the 1000 Islands.
When Vid moved to Kingston, he was keen to learn more about the area. Interested in history in general, he wanted to know what made Kingston unique, noting that his time spent in Mumbai and Toronto left him feeling disenchanted with big cities. In the process, Vid became fascinated with Kingston’s history and he began collecting antiques, books, and Canadian artifacts. Eventually, the idea for Qrio was born.
Qrio Antique Shop & Café is a place where Vid wants people to learn more about history in a cool and casual café setting.
“It’s a café that will spark conversations,” he says. “The setting makes Qrio unique, since it is the first vintage café in Kingston.”
Vid is excited for his customers to spend time in a coffee shop where everything from the decorations to the furniture is vintage. “Everything has been repurposed and has history attached to it,” he says.
Although history is a large component of the cafe, Qrio also encompasses Vid and Mitali’s love for cooking and gardening. Qrio’s location includes a café area, a fully-licensed kitchen, and a private, enclosed patio. Vid’s excitement for the kitchen and the patio stems from the potential to expand his food offerings at his other café locations and to cultivate an herb and vegetable garden.
“Mitali and I love plants,” says Vid. “In three years’ time, we would love to be self-sustainable with the veggies in our sandwiches.”
Vid’s philosophy with Qrio Antique Shop & Café is similar to that of the two Kingston Coffee House locations: he is eager to share knowledge, stimulate conversations, and foster community.
“We want more and more people to know that we are about community first, not the coffee. Coffee you can order, but not community.”
Vid and Mitali are particularly excited to support community by displaying work from local artists in addition to serving up great coffee.
“We started an ‘Artist of the Month’ series last year,” Vid explains. “We choose a theme and support local artists that people can connect with.”
It all comes down to connection at Qrio Antique Shop and Café — whether over art, coffee, food, or history.
“I have to share this,” Vid says. “Qrio is going to be that place where you can sit on an antique piece of furniture and have a conversation. I want people to experience history and absorb the different environment of Qrio.”
Qrio Antique Shop & Café
671 Montreal Street