Obama Cafe in Toronto hopes for second term for its namesake

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Good News

The Obama Cafe opened on Toronto's Danforth Avenue on President Barack Obama's inauguration day in January, 2009, and became "an instant media darling."

Four years later, Emmanuel Debass, founder of the tiny coffee shop in the city's east end, is hoping Obama will win another term.

Debass, who was born in Ethiopia but has called Canada home for more than 30 years, told the Toronto Star of how he got swept up in Obama's campaign:

"He was talking about bringing America together. He seemed to be this great role model for young black people," he said.

"Owner Emmanuel Debass came up with the idea for the café post-election, so he had to act quickly in order to have the sign up before the inauguration in January. He managed to just make it, attracting hoards of both TV and print media, but he had to conduct all the interviews on the sidewalk (the actual café didn't even have tables or chairs then)," the Torontoist's Kaori Furue wrote of the cafe's speedy opening.

Debass claims that business slowed around January 2010, when Obama's opinion polls started faltering. Around that time, a car accident forced Debass to temporarily close the cafe's doors.

Business picked up again when Obama's re-election campaign started.

No matter who wins on Tuesday, however, Debass will not consider changing the name of his business. In fact, he hopes to franchise the business across North America.

"He's still the first black man to become president, which is an amazing achievement," he said. "History has already been made."

"Even if he loses the next election, he's still going to be the most famous president of all time," Debass told Open File. "The Obama Cafe has a magic name."