This city is full of interesting characters, restaurateurs in particular. Many of them have regulars … but they’re not like Dave’s.
Dave Summers operates the cafe in the CBC building on University Avenue. He started off in his own restaurant on Duckworth street over 30 years ago — The Heritage Cafe. Summers opened the establishment along with his sister in 1984, across the street from where The Duke of Duckworth sits today. So how did he end up at CBC? Many likely remember — or have seen — the dilapidated former CBC Radio building downtown. In its heyday, it was buzzing with [radio]waves of technicians, producers, hosts, and a scattered celebrity guest, and they would spill right out onto the street daily and pour into The Heritage, as most people called it. They had to eat, and Dave was right next door, ready to feed them. So it was no surprise when CBC left the downtown area, they took Dave with them. And he’s been in the University Avenue location cafe since 2001.
Running across people like Rick Mercer, Allan Hawco, and Mark O’Brien
as regulars in their early days was no big deal to Dave. In fact, when I
asked him if he’s ever met any celebrities in his line of work he said
“nah, not really” — but then proceeded to list the aforementioned and many
more as frequent customers “back in the day when they were young ones
at the hall.”
Dave has a solid honour system for his customers. CBCers can keep tabs
running instead of whipping out the debit card for seven cups of coffee a day,
and that Kit-Kat (oh … and maybe that sandwich … wait Dave, I need a cookie too
… actually, I deserve a cookie). He’s also pretty trusting with his business and
patron relationship, leaving snacks available for the overnight crew when he
closes up shop for the day — he leaves a notebook so you just write your
name and what you took.
Dave says he’s, “just a man trying to make a living,” but he certainly creates a
welcoming environment; a home away from home for people who some days
see more of their desk chair than their bed. He’s always there with a kind word
and a smile — and starts his countdown to Christmas on the 1st of September.
Jamie Baker — host of the Fisheries Broadcast, and a regular patron of Dave’s
— lives a little too far to go home for lunch, and he appreciates the homestyle
meals in the workplace on his busy schedule. “CBC is a place where spare time
and opportunities to eat are very limited — Dave provides a great service that way,”
“His cafe is a bit of a melting pot for great chats and opinions and ideas.
But apart from the service and the cafe he’s also part of the fabric of the place.
When I returned from being off sick for three months, he was the first one to
welcome me back. And then he altered some of his menu to help with my new
food requirements. When my daughter was sick with a nasty flu recently, he called
me to see how she was doing. Many will debate whether or not they like his strong
coffee, but there’s no debating the fact he’s good people.”
Like his traditional fishcakes every Friday, the staff of CBC can always depend on Dave.
So if you’re ever at CBC for an interview, or just passing through, go say hi to Dave,
and thank him for keeping your local journalists fed and caffeinated so they can keep
the news on the air.