Coffee, Cannabis & Community at Tokyo Smoke
Ex-Google executive Alan Gertner decided to ditch his high-paying, globe-trotting job with the tech giant to open up a combination head shop and coffee shop in his hometown of Toronto.
Gertner is the co-founder of Tokyo Smoke, a coffee shop, clothing brand and head shop all rolled into one.
A little more than a year ago, Gertner had what most people would consider a dream job with Google. Leading a 100 million dollar Asia-Pacific sales team and making more money than he had ever hoped for. However, Gertner was feeling unfulfilled, having already achieved and surpassed his monetary and career goals at the age of 30. With the experience and the money he had accrued, he was able to take a step back and really evaluate what was important in his life.
The revelation that he should quit his job and pursue his passion came rather unexpectedly Gertner explained in a piece for the Globe and Mail.
While he was on his way to observe a voodoo ceremony in Ghana, Gertner’s tour guide told him something that resonated deeply with him.
“You either work on something you love, or work because it supports the people you love.”
These words were cause for Gertner to reflect on his career path and ultimately make some serious life changes. After spending some time as a ski-guide in Japan and studiously examining what makes him truly happy and what his passions are, the idea for Tokyo Smoke was born.
Gertner promptly returned to his hometown of Toronto to launch the flagship location of Tokyo Smoke. At its heart, Tokyo Smoke is a premium coffee shop catering to a hip and discerning crowd. Gertner grew fond of designer coffees during his time at Google, seeing as they offer fully decked-out coffee stations it’s no wonder. Tokyo Smoke is trying to emulate this high-class coffee experience, coupled with an inviting atmosphere and competitive price points.
The same level of quality and simplicity is reflected in Tokyo Smoke’s cannabis brand. While they don’t offer any actual cannabis, as recreational cannabis remains illegal in Canada, Gertner has a few strains in the works with Rubicon, an American cannabis producer, which he hopes to bring to the American market later this year. These proprietary strains include: a high CBD strain, an energizing sativa, soothing indica as well as a 50/50 hybrid strain.
At first glance, Tokyo Smoke is a small hole in the wall, nestled in the alley between two building blocks. It has a very industrial feel to it while still being warm and inviting. The shop offers sandwiches and fresh cold-pressed juices along with their array of coffee options. While you enjoy your cup of coffee, you can browse through the variety of cannabis-friendly products as well as some of the high-fashion items on display.
“I’m really excited about the [cannabis] revolution, I want it to be positive for everyone,” Getner says.
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