Co-founder of Toronto's chain of illicit dispensaries, CAFE, dies in Mexico


Jon Galvano, the co-founder of a chain of illegal cannabis dispensaries that have operated around Toronto for nearly five years, has died in Mexico, reports CBC.

Coffee and Fine Edibles (CAFE) opened its first location in Toronto’s CityPlace neighbourhood in 2016, before expanding to four shops around the city.

Few details have emerged so far regarding the circumstances of Galvano’s death. He was 46-years-old.

CBC confirmed his passing with a family member and Global Affairs Canada is reportedly aware that a Canadian has died in Mexico. There have been no reports out of Mexico and an obituary states that Galvano died “peacefully in his sleep” on May 12.

Galvano co-founded the business alongside Wesley Weber, a skilled forger of documents who served five years in prison for his role in producing counterfeit $100 bills. The Bank of Canada called Weber “one of the most well-known counterfeiters in Canada,” in a 2017 report.

Weber and Galvano were lifelong friends, according to CBC, and grew up together in the Windsor area. Galvano often depicted a lavish lifestyle on his Instagram account, including travelling on private jets to business meetings, firing grenade launchers in Cambodia, and sitting courtside at Toronto Raptors games.

During the summer of 2019, Toronto Police attempted to stamp out the chain of dispensaries by placing concrete slabs in the front of the shop entrances. The operation was reported to cost more than $350,000 and had limited success, as the concrete blocks were removed overnight by CAFE workers.

The shops were raided a number of times over the years but usually reopened within a day or two, if not sooner. It was a common sight to see lineups snaking out the door and down the street at multiple locations during the height of the business’s operations.

With its sleek interiors, minimalist branding, and a large selection of products, CAFE joined Canadian Cannabis Retailers Union in March 2020, according to a press release.

“CAFE has grown to become Ontario’s largest cannabis retailer as a result of a forward-looking philosophy which emphasizes superior products, the best in-store experiences, and the importance of safety for its customers and the community at large,” said David Shuang, head of public relations for CAFE.

CAFE has yet to offer a statement regarding Galvano’s death or the future of its operations. On May 15, the same day CBC reported Galvano’s death, CAFE sent out an email to customers announcing a new rewards program for members.