I've frequented Mahtay five times thus far. All visits took place between June and October 2013.
I've brought others with me and encouraged even more to patronize the venue.
I've enjoyed my visits to Mahtay, overall, but going by what I'd heard before visiting the first time and from the staff each time I've visited, I had expected Artist Performances on each evening that I visited and a friendly sense of "Community".
I believe the food and beverages account for the "community" at Mahtay, since the food ingredients and menu items are said to be locally grown, brewed, etc.
What I've experienced of the menu has been good quality and tasty, however, the Baristas have nothing healthy on hand to sweeten or lighten teas, chais and coffees with -- for those of us allergic to nuts and wishing to stay away from cane sugar, anyhow. No Agave Nectar, Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Rice Milk or Coconut Milk. The Soy Milk on offer has cane sugar included and I believe they offer sweetened Almond Milk, as well. I am pleased to report that they offer organic, fresh, gluten-free and cane sugar-free foods! : )
Each and every time I've visited I've felt the recorded music, while an impressive selection on each visit, was a little too short on volume, making it less easy for those who are shy, self-conscious or needing to speak discreetly to open up and speak, you know... really communicate, in an on-going conversation, as it feels as though the entire room can hear your conversation, regardless of the area you're seated in. I've purposely sat in each area available to patrons in order to determine whether the acoustics are different in different area. They aren't.
While I like that there are local Music and Performance Artists booked to perform, the only time any type of performance was happening when I visited was on only ONE of my five visits. The performance was nearly finished at the early hour of 8PM! I guess it was an Open Mic Night. It had been all young, female, acoustic, Vocal performers and I was the only person in a half-filled Cafe who applauded the Muso's efforts! Even their own contemporaries didn't get "into" the performances and barely seemed to acknowledge most of the performances!!! It was very odd, and disheartening!
I think, if the volume were turned up and the lights turned down a bit, the feel of the room would improve. However, the energy and conversation from much of the clientele has seemed cliquish, with 'Rock Snobs' or 'Folk-Rock Snobs'; those trying to impress, seem "cool" and over-talking some of their pals -- has rubbed me the wrong way -- on each and every visit.
Artists are generally authentic, open, accepting, interested and easy-going folk. This crowd, every time I visit, seems Put-On to a degree.
I don't wish to feel as I do about Mahtay. I'm glad there is such a venue in the city. I've shared, simply, what I have experienced there.
"Community" is alluded to in regard to Mahtay, quite a bit. Considering the population of the area, I wonder why the only (and very few) people of colour I've seen at Mahtay are Asian-related. I've yet to see any of the city's African, Caribbean, Latino or Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific Islands-related folk as clientele or performers there...
I appreciate the "Free Wi-Fi" internet availability. It makes for a more inviting, cultured and less stoic venue to visit while out of home but needing to be on-line, opposed to the nearby Central Library.
Most of the times I've visited the venue it has closed EARLY. As I am nocturnal, that is always a disappointment for me.
I haven't given up hope to catch some impressive entertainment acts there, eventually.
I will continue to frequent Mahtay when in the Garden City and do hope I manage to feel different about it in the future -- in only positive ways, preferably!
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