The Shortiss Cafe Bar: a little slice of Beaverton history

Jessie Davis

The building’s history is such a hot topic of conversation for customers that the fascinating story is told multiple times a day.

Life, as they say, is what happens to us when we’re busy making other plans. While there is some uncertainty as to who was the first to come up with this sentiment, there is no doubt that it’s the truth.

The Lianos family lived this truth firsthand when they needed a change of pace in both life and business. With a shared passion for historical preservation and restoration, Sandra and Alex invested in two properties in Durham Region, opening The Hartman venue and bed and breakfast in 2013, and most recently The Shortiss Cafe Bar in beautiful downtown Beaverton this past August. In keeping with the building’s history, the Shortiss also features boutique hotel rooms upstairs.

Exterior building of the Shortiss Cafe.
The exterior of the café in downtown Beaverton.
Source: The Shortiss Facebook page


Sitting in the Shortiss’ airy café space on a chilly Saturday afternoon, I fell in love—not only with the delicate flavour of my expertly-crafted beetroot latte or with the lovely Lianoses themselves—but also with the intriguing history of the Shortiss building.

As I savoured my gourmet grilled cheese, Alex forgot all about the crêpe that had been freshly prepared for him at the café’s crêpe station as he excitedly shared the building’s secrets.

First off, he explained why the Shortiss name ends with both a single ‘s’ and a double ‘s’ separated by a vertical bar. As a lover of spelling, grammar, and punctuation, this was something I’d been dying to ask. It turns out the few historical records of the building feature conflicting accounts of how the name was originally spelled, so Alex and Sandra decided to go with both!

Close up of a grilled cheese sandwich.
The delectable grilled cheese that will keep you coming back for more.
Source: The Shortiss Facebook page


While the mystery of the proper spelling was fascinating in and of itself, Alex’s next statement had me tilting my head to the side in confusion:

“We kind of had the vision for this building based on its historical significance before it was moved here,” Alex continued.

Wait a minute. The building was moved here?

This comment even grabbed the attention of the two guests at the next table who were in town visiting family. As we all leaned in with fascination, Alex and Sandra adjusted their chairs so they could give an impromptu history lecture about how the hotel made its way from a lot near the lake to the downtown core.

In the 1880s, Alex Hamilton owned the land where the Shortiss now stands but wasn’t sure what to do with the vacant lot. In a twist of fate, it just so happened that the owner of the Shortiss was looking to sell.

“Rather than building something from the ground up, he actually moved the building from that location to this location back in 1885,” Alex said.

“And it’s funny,” he continues, “a story was written in the local newspaper at that time about how the townspeople were so upset about the fact that this building somehow got stuck in the middle of this intersection and it stayed there for about two weeks!”

The hotel itself was the original business of the building, but in its new location it was converted to apartments upstairs and retail on the main floor. In fact, the café’s gorgeous wood counter is the original shop counter!

Interior of the Shortiss Cafe.
The interior of the historic building, featuring the original shop counter.
Source: Adeline Pettit (via the Shortiss Facebook page)


The building’s history is such a hot topic of conversation for customers that the fascinating story is told multiple times a day.

“Our poor staff!” Sandra laughs as she explains how often they find themselves giving history lectures to eager, interested customers.

“We actually talked to the Historical Society and they’re going to do a QR code,” she said. “That way, people can scan the code to learn more about the history of the building and business.”

The Shortiss is open Tuesday to Sunday and is also available for private events. Be sure to “like” their Facebook page so you don’t miss a single post featuring gorgeous photos of their creative, gourmet food and beverages!


The Shortiss Cafe

375 Simcoe Street
Beaverton, ON L0K 1A0
@TheShortissCafeBar on Instagram
@TheShortissCafeBar on Facebook