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Toronto coffee shop lures Tom Hanks with hilarious TIFF campaign

Last year Grinder Coffee got a visit from Ryan Gosling. Now they've launched 'Tom Hanks Needs Grinder.'

Last year Grinder Coffee got a visit from Ryan Gosling. Now they've launched 'Tom Hanks Needs Grinder'

Grinder Coffee in Toronto's Leslieville neighourhood is trying to lure Tom Hanks to their shop with a hilarious 10-day, $100 campaign. (Grinder Coffee)

Update: The shop's Tom Hanks campaign worked. See story below.


Like thousands of film fans, the owner of a Toronto coffee shop wants to do a little Toronto International Film Festival celebrity watching this week — but unlike others, she's hoping to do it without leaving her store.

Located in Leslieville, Grinder Coffee owner Joelle Murray has launched the Tom Needs Grinder campaign, which is aimed at luring legendary actor Tom Hanks to visit the shop during TIFF.

During the first several days of the 10-day campaign Murray has used a cardboard cutout of Hanks to recreate the giant piano scene from Big, simulate going for pizza with the star, and even get him a tattoo.  (She is working with a $100 budget for the entire campaign, so the Hanks cutout doesn't have legs, and the large piano keyboard was borrowed from her four-year-old.)

It's not the first time the coffee shop has managed to lure a big name. Last year, staff and customers chose Ryan Gosling as their target, and the Canadian heartthrob did show up at the shop.

"It was very exciting. I didn't actually expect my plan to work and was very surprised when it did," says Murray with a laugh. "But his mom had seen the campaign and they found it very funny."

In 2017, the first year of the shop's TIFF campaign, Murray chose Idris Elba, but he was a no-show, which has led to relentless ribbing of the famed actor.

On day two of the current campaign, the shop released a tongue-in-cheek "recommendation letter" from Gosling.

"Tom, Grinder Coffee is the best place ever. Joelle is a riot, the staff awesome and the coffee AMAZING . @idriselba is a shattered man after his no show. Don't be an Idris."

This year, Murray was torn between Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, but staff and customers tipped the scale toward Hanks.

"I love both of them, and I really wanted Meryl," says Murray, "but our joke has been that it's a lot easier to recreate Tom Hanks films than it is to recreate, say, Kramer vs. Kramer, or Silkwood, or Sophie's Choice."

"And Tom Hanks is hilarious. We've been following his social media feed, and he takes pictures with drunk people, he holds up wallets that people have lost," says Murray. "So I feel like he'll really appreciate the humour behind it."

Murray says her favourite Hanks films include Big, Splash, The Post and The Green Mile, and her four-year-old loves The Polar Express and Toy Story. Forrest Gump is also her husband's favourite film of all time. "Every time it's on TV he stops and watches it," she says.

Murray says she's hoping to get a few fun photos with the star, who is in Toronto to promote his new Mr. Rogers biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Until then, she's constantly devising new ways to draw him to her shop, including getting his cutout TIFF-ready at favourite neighbourhood spots, and rolling out a red carpet.

So what will Murray do if Hanks shows up? She says she's offering a free cup of coffee for Hanks and 15 per cent off for his entourage. And if Hanks wants to purchase a mug he'll get a paltry 10 per cent discount.

"We're a small business," says Murray with a laugh. "But I talk a good game, and then I cave in the end because I get stars in my eyes."

UPDATE: On Friday night, Hanks paid a visit to Grinder Coffee. Murray wasn't there at the time, but Hanks spoke with her on the phone.

"I picked up the phone and it wasn't my staff, it was Tom Hanks," Murray, who was at home eating dinner with her family, told CBC News. "So that was quite a surprise."

"He was so funny and generous," said Murray. "He told me I was very clever, so that made my day, absolutely."

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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