An Ode to the Sleepless Goat

Rest in peace, Sleepless Goat (1993 - 2016)
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Here’s to the fair trade coffee, the heaping breakfast plates, and in my opinion, the Goat’s crowning jewel: the morning glory muffin. You’re inimitable and will be sorely missed.

Having sincerely cited Kingston’s title as the city with the most restaurants per capita in Canada to my friends and family as a major selling point for Queen’s, I arrived in the fall in pursuit of the best eatery in town. The pinnacle of my edible adventures has indisputably been the Sleepless Goat Café. 

Established in 1993 and incorporated as a worker’s cooperative in 2000, the Sleepless Goat embodied egalitarian values. It spearheaded the sustainable food movement by serving vegetarian and vegan-friendly foods and advocating for social and environmental responsibility in every facet of its operations. Admittedly, as a vegan, I considered it a haven among overabundant late-night joints serving up cheap eats.

Now, given its sudden closure, I feel an obligation to voice the woes of its many disheartened patrons. 

The beauty of the Sleepless Goat was that everyone, no matter their walk of life, was welcome. Its core essence can be distilled down to its prevailing sense of community. The Goat established a free lending library and a “Pay it Forward” board, which allowed customers to pay for a menu item in advance for someone who may not have been able to afford it. This culture of kinship — that’s often dismissed in today’s individualistic society — was palpable in every corner of the café.

Its unconventional structure and cool atmosphere earned it the hipster label, but it was just alternative enough to remain accessible to those of us who are more mainstream. The Goat’s chameleonic ability to morph into whatever one needed it to be, was one of its most endearing qualities. In my visits, I observed romantic encounters, study sessions, friendly gatherings and many family lunches. Its clientele and staff were an unfailingly diverse and thoughtful bunch, which made each experience comfortable and memorable. 

Like with any abrupt goodbye, countless regrets have since materialized. 

For one, I’ll never get to try the enormous double chocolate chip cookie that I always eyed behind the glass display case. 

The one thing I know for certain: whatever establishment inevitably takes up shop at 91 Princess St. will have a deep goat-shaped hole in my heart to fill. 

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