A chance reconnection between two old friends has culminated in a new art and craft studio in the Upper Beach.
Unlimited Arts Studio opened in late April at 152 Main St., just south of Gerrard, and offers a variety of classes and workshops for children and adults, from experts to complete beginners.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do … have a space where people can come and just be creative,” said founder Fiona Bramzell.
Bramzell and her 1990s partner-in-crime during Queen Street West’s heyday, DeAnn deGruijter, reconnected several years ago when they ended up using the same daycare provider. With a career in theatre, deGruijter offered to run some related workshops or classes at the studio.
“I come to it with a theatre background,” she said.
Soon enough, Bramzell realized the two were still on the same wavelength, and deGruijter came on board as a co-founder and creative director.
“I realized we both had pretty much the same vision,” said Bramzell.
The studio’s mission is general but ambitious. “Our overall wish is to provide a welcoming, uninhibited space for you to discover and unleash your inner creativity,” they write on the studio’s website. “Let us help you find and nurture your passion!”
Classes and workshops range from weekly children’s art classes to smartphone cinematography, and the space is available to rent for creative types hoping to offer their own expertise in custom workshops.
Unlimited Arts offers a range beyond that of other options, said Bramzell.
“There are art classes, but I don’t think there’s any place like us in the neighbourhood.”
Bramzell and deGruijter are also collecting milk bags – the larger bags that hold three individual milk bags, not the ones that actually contained milk – for a project that sees the bags woven into mats that are sent to third world countries. Everyone is encouraged to drop off milk bags, preferably flattened and folded, to the studio or pop them through the mail slot.
To find out about the full range of programs, including the milk bag project, see unlimitedartsstudio.com.
It was pure luck that led to Quarry Dental Group celebrating three decades at their Quarry Plaza location at Gerrard Street East and Clonmore Drive.
Dr. Allan Katchky, who runs the office alongside his “partner in life and in business,” Dr. Cindy Greenspoon, first came to the East End in 1983 when he landed his first placement after graduation with Dr. Sheldon Rose on Kingston Road.
The sense of community kept him in the area when the time came to establish an independent practice.
“This area has changed a lot less than most areas … I kind of fell in love with the area and the people,” said Katchky.
Greenspoon points out that some of those clients are so much like family that she and Katchky have seen the smiles of children, and then grandchildren, come through their doors.
That tradition of family extends to their own children. The dentist couple’s two sons are both working as orthopedic surgery residents, their youngest daughter is considering dentistry, and older daughter Ashley graduated dental school last year.
After finishing a year of specialized training in Boston, she’s expected to join the family practice this summer, marking two generations of dentists serving three generations of patients.
“Everyone in the family has sort of gravitated toward healthcare,” said Katchky.
Periodontist Jacklyn Glick is also joining the current team of 14 part- and full-time employees.
Katchky and Greenspoon said they are both very grateful to the many long-time patients who continue to support their practice in the Upper Beach.
“It’s become my home. This is where my patients are, and a lot of them are like family,” Katchky said.
Upper Beach resident Dwayne Reno moved his restaurant service business Building Block Associates from Kingston Road to Leslieville six months ago, in order to be in the heart of the restaurant scene.
On June 12 Building Block will mark its third anniversary of providing a unique mix of food supply and marketing services to the Toronto food service industry.
“We’re pretty unique in regards to what we offer,” said Reno. “We try to act as a supplier who doesn’t just slash prices.”
Reno, who went to school for marketing, found a natural slot providing both food and advice on business promotion, having grown up with a mother, an uncle and a grandfather all in the food service industry.
“I learned the industry hands-on by being in restaurants,” he said.
Reno said the multi-layered service approach was inspired by rising food costs, with some of his clients spending a quarter or more of their revenue just on food supplies – cutting into whatever marketing budget they might have had.
“These services and more can be accessed under the Building Block Associates roof, helping to level the playing field and give independent foodservice operators a fighting chance against the larger corporate-backed chains,” said Reno.
Building Block offers food supplies – produce, meat, bread, brand-name foods – alongside online marketing solutions and food cost management. Reno will be launching a restaurant management program in the coming months as well.
To find out more about Building Block see buildingblockassociates.com.