Wednesday, October 2, 2013


One of the things I love best about the location of Atelier Ivaan is the fact that we are next door to Vinny's.  Vinny and his wonderful mother, Mena, are the proprietors of Vinny's Panini, perhaps the most noteworthy Italian sandwich shop in Toronto. Ivaan loved Vinny's hot meatball sandwiches, though as his illness progressed he could no longer feed himself, nor could he eat sandwiches.  If he wanted a Vinny's meatball sandwich, it had to be deconstructed:  the meatball over here, the sauce in a little dish, and the bun over there.  He ate them in teaspoon size mouthfuls, one bite at a time. Feeding Ivaan half a Vinny's sandwich took forever, but it was worth it to see him enjoy his meal.

When I first bought this building, I went over to re-introduce myself to Vinny, and he remembered his former customer who preferred the deconstructed hot meatball panini.

I love being next door to Vinny.  He's the best neighbour.  When I need to describe to someone where I'm located, I can just say I'm "next door to Vinny's Panini".   Everybody knows Vinny's.   If I'm expecting a shipment, Vinny will watch out for the delivery truck.   When I have contractors working here, Vinny feeds them.  If I'm in the store late at night, Vinny keeps an eye on me. The customers at Vinny's are from the widest spectrum of society, all united by the love of a good Italian sandwich. Sometimes they'll stop in for a chat while they're waiting for their sandwich, and everyone has a good word to say about Vinny. Sometimes people even stop by accidentally: so eager are they to reach Vinny's door, they come in here by mistake,  blurt out "I'll have a steak sandwich to go, with rapini on the side" and they will suddenly look around, realize they're not in Vinny's, and start to laugh.

A few days ago, some broken glass at Vinny's gave me a chance to help out by doing what I love to do best:  sweeping.   And yesterday morning, Vinny arrived with a thank you gift, put together very artistically by his wife Jenny, following their apple-picking Sunday drive in the country.

Ivaan's favourite short story is entitled A Basket of Apples, by Shirley Faessler. It's a  beautifully written story about family, hardships and love, but most of all it's about neighbourhood.  Vinny's gift of apples reminded me immediately of this story. And once again, as I very often am, I was reminded how glad I am to be Vinny's neighbour.

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