‘I Can’t Believe He Came:’ Ryan Gosling Just Made This Toronto Café Owner’s Dream Come True

“I was sitting at my computer doing my HST, and someone said, ‘There’s this giant black Escalade in front of the shop.'”

Ryan Gosling Toronto Cafe - Ryan at Grinder Coffee with the owner

(Photo, @grindercoffeegerrard/Instagram)

If you didn’t care about Ryan Gosling before, know that he loves coffee and Canada. At least, it *seems* like he does because on Tuesday he went out of his way to visit Grinder Coffee, a Toronto café, after owner Joelle Murray’s hilarious #ryanneedsgrinder social media campaign went viral.

Gosling — who was born in London, Ont. and grew up in various towns around the province before finding fame in Hollywood — was recently at the Toronto International Film Festival for the premiere of First Man, a movie about astronaut Neil Armstrong. But on September 11, he decided to make a detour from the downtown TIFF circuit to visit Murray’s east Toronto café thanks to #ryanneedsgrinder.

Murray first came up with the idea last year after finding out that Idris Elba was coming to town for the 2017 festival. “I thought, I want to have coffee with him! I run a coffee shop. Let’s see if I can do this,” she says. The longtime fan attempted an #idrisneedsgrinder campaign to no avail — although customers really jumped on board. Many of Murray’s patrons posed with the cut-out of Elba’s head she erected in the café, and then shared the images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #idrisneedsgrinder hashtag. (In further attempt to lure Elba to Grinder, she promised him 10% off on his coffee.)

This year she held a vote in advance, asking patrons to choose between four celebrities at this year’s TIFF — Julia Roberts, Samuel L. Jackson, Dame Judy Dench, or Gosling — one of whom would become the focus of the café’s 2018 “campaign of love.”

“Ryan won, and clearly it was an amazingly good choice,” Murray said. “It’s always good to have a Canadian angle in anything, right?” She also decided to up the discount for Gosling, offering him 15% off his purchase should he visit the café, and erected a cardboard cut-out of Gosling’s entire top half for patrons to take photos with.

“Ryan won, and clearly it was an amazingly good choice,” Murray said. “It’s always good to have a Canadian angle in anything, right?” She also decided to up the discount for Gosling, offering him 15% off his purchase should he visit the café, and erected a cardboard cut-out of Gosling’s entire top half for patrons to take photos with.

“Had I known this was going to be as big of a story as it was, I would have put better pictures of myself [on Instagram],” she says with a laugh.

As the campaign picked up speed, Murray appeared on Breakfast Television, where the hosts pointed out that Gosling’s parents could be watching if they still lived in Ontario. And either they did, or they just saw the social media posts, because lo and behold, the Gos showed up.

“I was literally sitting at my computer doing my HST, and someone said, ‘There’s this giant black Escalade in front of the shop,” Murray said. “I looked up, and the first thing I said to him was — I dropped the f-bomb [and then said,] ‘I can’t believe you came.’”

While Gosling was only in the shop for about two minutes and took his black coffee to go, Murray said he was “amazingly gracious and cool” about the whole campaign and that his family had encouraged him to visit. “I told him I was really hoping that he didn’t find it creepy… It was actually done as fun,” she said. (Fortunately, Gosling said both he and his family had found the story really funny.)

Murray hopes to make the campaign an annual tradition, although she doesn’t know who next year’s celebrity crush will be. (It all depends on who goes to TIFF.) For now, her next goal is to appear on Ellen.

“Everyone is like, ‘Has she reached out to you?’ I’m like, ‘No.’ But, you never know! You put it out there. I got Ryan Gosling, why can’t I go bigger?” she quipped.

All jokes aside, Murray can’t emphasize enough how kind Gosling was to help bring the indie coffee shop some publicity. “I mean, he’s Ryan Gosling — I’m sure he knows how this works,” she said. “Small businesses across the country do the hustle and grind. We’re just trying to make a buck… Him taking time out of his day for someone like me is just a very kind act. I totally respect and appreciate what he did.”

Of course, the question we’re all dying to know the answer to — did Gosling take her up on the 15% discount?

“I caved!” she said. “I know I was only promising 15%, but in the end, I was a little star struck so I just threw him a free cup of coffee.”