Bodega Henriette isn’t your average brunch spot. This beloved Upper Beaches spot at the corner of Gerrard St. East & Bowmore Road is an eclectic mix of everything a neighbourhood spot should be; part pantry part convenience store, part brunch/drinks with friends/get a great meal/take-out spot, for some it’s even a cozy place to meet up for morning coffee.
Owned and operated by Nicole Cheung, a first generation Canadian (her parents are from Hong Kong), Bodega Henriette was a leap of faith when it first opened in 2015, but she saw a void in the mostly residential neighbourhood and knew her unique take on a corner store would work.
An environmental sciences student who was working as an environmental consultant post graduation, Cheung wasn’t fulfilled by her work. So in 2000 she decided to take Baking and Pastry Arts Management at George Brown, and a restauranteur was born. By 2003 she’d quit her job and gone travelling, finding inspiration in local shops and cafes around the globe. A few years later she opened Betty’s on King, then Eulalie’s Corner Store on Gerrard, and then finally in 2015, she acquired the building where Bodega Henriette now thrives.
That’s not to say that there weren’t struggles in the beginning; Cheung had to play around with what was right for the atmosphere; TV or no TV, what music, what kind of lighting, what was going to bring people in and have them want to return? She’s pivoted from just doing weekend brunch and counter service (along with the pantry), to full-time table service, drinks and more. Bodega Henriette now has a huge (and loyal) following from all over the city.