TIFF 2019: Tom Hanks drops in to Toronto coffee shop that convinced Ryan Gosling to visit last year

By Zach Harper

Tony Graham was mopping up Grinder Coffee, a cafe in Toronto’s east end on the evening of Sept. 6 when he got what must have been the shock of his life.

After hearing a knock on the door, he looked up and saw someone pointing through the window at the giant cardboard cutout of Tom Hanks the shop had set up during TIFF in an attempt to lure him in. Tom was in the city promoting Mr. Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood as it had its world premiere at the festival.

In a surreal moment that sounds like something straight out of a Tom Hanks movie, owner Joelle Murray said her employee then realized he was staring at the real life Tom Hanks pointing at his own cardboard cutout.

It was after hours and the shop had closed, but it still caused a stir, Joelle told Hello! Canada.

People outside stopped to take pictures when they realized Tom Hanks was actually inside a Toronto coffee shop that had campaigned for him to visit. Photo: © Twitter/GrinderCoffeeTO

“Then people were actually trying to get in the shop,” Joelle said. “Imagine having Tom Hanks tell you, ‘Sorry, we’re closed’!”

Joelle said Tony let Tom in, and since she wasn’t there, they called her on the phone. When she answered, she said she assumed there was a problem because of the lateness of the call.

“I answered like ‘… Hello…?!’” she said, and then was very surprised to find Tom on the other end. “I was like, ‘No way! Is that actually you? Are you actually there? Why are you there after hours?!’”

Joelle said Tom told her it was the only time he could fit it into his schedule, and joked that Grinder kept “bad hours.”

Joelle and Grinder launched this year’s Needs Grinder campaign following the success of 2018’s version, which saw them successfully bring Ryan Gosling into the shop during that year’s TIFF. Back then, Joelle was shocked when Ryan showed up in the middle of the day and gave her a hug. Numerous news reports said Ryan’s mother had encouraged him to visit.

Joelle also ran a Needs Grinder campaign in 2017, when she unsuccessfully tried to get Idris Elba to visit. All of the social media promotion for the subsequent campaigns have involved her good-naturedly ribbing Idris for not making it.

Each year, Joelle asks the shop’s Instagram followers to vote on the celebrity they want Grinder to campaign to visit the business, which is located on Gerrard Street East near Jones, just west of Little India. Tom was the winner, followed by Meryl Streep in second place.

This year’s hilarious campaign was put together for what was just a maximum of $100 – “$150 if you include the beers I bought my friend for designing the cutout,” Joelle said. It saw her pose with the cutout on the city’s transit system, at a nearby tattoo shop where “Tom” got Wilson inked, getting a "hair cut" across the road, and featured Joelle re-enacting that infamous keyboard scene from Big right inside the shop.

View this post on Instagram

Day 6 of our #tomneedsgrinder campaign. Since you are in town for our the premiere of your film #beautifuldayintheneighborhood we thought you would like to see a #beautifuldayinourneighborhood. 1. First stop a fresh new do @foxandjane . The lovely @kristinrankinhair will get you #tiff ready. 2. New threads from @coffeeandclothing . Check you out Tom no more "America's dad" how about America's new hottie. Move over @idriselba there is a new sheriff in town. 3. The best dollar store ever! Why buy expensive pens for autographs when you can get them for a buck. 4. Dinner @doubleds_to . You need to make sure you have a full belly to walk the #redcarpet. 5. The last and the best stop #grindercoffeegerrard for a cup of ginger tea to sooth the nerves. @tiff_net #neighborhoodlove #coffeedates #wecandothis #tifftime #webelieve

A post shared by Grinder Coffee Gerrard (@grindercoffeegerrard) on

Joelle said Tom then told her the campaign she and Grinder had launched was “clever,” which she said made her very proud, partly because she truly loves the shop and puts so much work into it.

“This is truly a small business,” she told Hello! Canada. “I’m in there six days a week. It’s me and four staffers. When my cellphone rings, it’s as much my phone as the business line.”

Joelle said Tom asked her why she had chosen “such a bad picture” of him for the cutout. It was because it was the easiest image to Photoshop a Grinder branded mug into his hand, she told him.

As for other celebrities she’d love to visit, if Keanu Reeves is reading this, Joelle said he should consider dropping in to Grinder when he’s next in town.

“My friend has been trying to get me to have a campaign with him, but he hasn’t been around lately,” Joelle said.

With The Matrix 4 being made, perhaps Keanu will be in the city very soon…

MORE: Full TIFF 2019 coverage

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