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Crawford

Photo: Dennis Marciniak

Posted by Staff / February 20, 2011

Crawford is about to shake up the Little Italy nightlife. Two Saturdays ago nearly turned out to be a bust for me and my friends. While all the essentials (what we were going to drink and whose house we were starting at) had been figured out, a simple mistake nearly unraveled the whole endeavor.

One of my friends was under the impression that 90's Party, the retro montly at Neutral was happening that weekend when it was actually scheduled for this past weekend. Although there was another 90's party at Augusta House, I haven't been interested in going there since 2007 so we had to find a new spot and fast.

A couple of phone calls later, we heard that Bang The Party! was moving to a new bar on Crawford and decided to check it out.

Little Italy has not really been on the radar when it comes to hot nightspots for awhile. Sidecar, Wilson 96 and The Auld Spot are great places to grab a drink but the vast majority of venues tend to serve sugary-sweet "martinis" and look like third-rate lounges put together with delusions of King West grandeur. Ted's Collision is too dark. The Mod Club plays host to some truly excellent concerts but there's nothing for the crowd looking for something in between.

Crawford fills this gap very well. Opened by Jasmine T. Burns of Queen's Head Pub and 751 fame with Jenna Davies managing (and a crew pulled from the latter bar plus the Midpoint and Sneaky Dee's), it looks to bring a little of that Queen West vibe to this College Street neighborhood.

That Jasmine settled one this particular space was a bit of a happy coincidence. A Google search for "bars for sale in T.O." led her to LOL Lounge which used to be Alto Basso, a favorite spot of hers. When a conditional sale fell through, she and fellow owner Stefano Gasparatto jumped on it.

My friends and I walk into the bar at one-thirty in the morning with no hassle from the bouncers to find it packed from wall to wall with a crowd of young-to-30-somethings dancing to old school hip-hop. The vibe is definitely friendly and approachable. I'd never been to LOL Lounge, the former occupant of the space, but Jasmine tells me that she completely overhauled the interior of the bar.

"Can you believe they put laminate over this gorgeous granite floor?" She shows me a photo of what it used to look like: boring, cookie-cutter, post-millenial lounge. I like it a whole lot more now. Exposed brick walls meet plastered comic book and music magazine pages and if you need to take a breather from dancing there's plenty of seating with couches and tables lining the walls. A couple of arcade games keep bored fingers busy.

Moving further along into the interior we come to an atrium with a stairway leading down into the guts of the venue. The music from the front of the bar doesn't bleed into the basement which is nice when you're throwing dueling parties. Passing by a satellite bar we enter into a narrow hallway containing the bathrooms. Another stairway takes us back up to the front of the bar which gives the venue a nice flow and prevents the atrium from getting too jammed up.

Drinks-wise, they've got you covered. Sapporo, PBR, Okanagan Pale Ale and Sleeman's Original Draught are on tap for $5 and bottled beers like 50 will set you back $4. Newer spirits like Jim Beam Red Stag keep the old standards like Jameson's and Jagermeister company. Jenna tells me that they're going to be doing different specials each week. This isn't exactly the place you'd order a cocktail but anyone who expects that is missing the point.

The kitchen that separates the main bar from the atrium will be serving pub-grub like patties and pogo sticks (2 for $5), chili, poutine and wraps (under $10) to help you keep down all the shots you'll be doing. Come summertime, there will be a patio out front where the smoking area is at the moment.

With Jasmine in charge, it's only natural that they'd be booked until April. When I came back by myself on a Tuesday, DJ Misty was spinning 50's/60's soul at the front and DJ HJ brought it forward a few decades with with 90's-to-now hip hop in the basement. For a mid-week party, it was pretty busy which should present a nice option for those of us who don't only go out on Saturdays.

The Black and Blues party I mentioned above which will showcase both Motown and hip-hop will be happening every Tuesday. On Sundays, Church will be in session with soul and funk. The first Saturday of every month will see an '80's party called Truth by Scott Wade and Co., the folks behind Smithfits and they have some other one-offs planned as well. Bang The Party! will be a monthly.

Scope out the check-out line at the Metro across the street on any given day and one can't help but think that this bar is going to prove to be a popular destination for anyone who's used to travelling down to Dundas or Queen for their fun.

Writing by Japhet Bower

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Sapporo, PBR, Sleeman Original Draught, Okanagan Pale Ale
Signature Drink:
Beer
Bar Snacks:
Patties and pogo sticks
Patio:
Yes
Music/Genre:
Various
Live Music:
Yes
Who Goes There:
Little Italy locals
Hours:
8pm-2:30am, closed Monday

Discussion

12 Comments

James Bamberger / February 21, 2011 at 11:22 AM
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Been out of the country in Brazil for 6 months, was sad about lack of College strip options but this looks very interesting. I've not found any e-mail or contact info save for a phone number but would like to contact from Brazil about an evening.....anyone know if there's an e-mail or website I couldn't find??

cheers, let's hope this can give a nice, new option to the strip!

Japhet / February 21, 2011 at 3:57 PM
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They have a Facebook page now:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crawford/191952020828799

JoeParez / February 22, 2011 at 9:52 AM
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I'm liking these strings of bars opening up on College, it's giving it a little bit of variety -- though I have yet to check out some of these new bars, with spring around the corner, I'll make sure to!

Matt / February 23, 2011 at 12:01 AM
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so is Smithfits happening every saturday?

Jasmine / February 23, 2011 at 3:23 PM
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No Smithfits and Get throwed are not happening every friday. But members and DJ's from both parties do have other dates booked. Pls check our Facebook page and our web page will be up by the end of the week.. We now also have a late night Caribbean kitchen open from 9pm to close. We offer Jerk chicken, Roti, Wings and sometimes Oxtail. Our Number is 647 352 6011

Jasmine / February 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM
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No Smithfits and Get throwed are not happening every friday. But members and DJ's from both parties do have other dates booked. Pls check our Facebook page and our web page will be up by the end of the week.. We now also have a late night Caribbean kitchen open from 9pm to close. We offer Jerk chicken, Roti, Wings and sometimes Oxtail. Our Number is 647 352 6011

PM / February 23, 2011 at 3:25 PM
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Lil' Wayne night tomorrow!

helen / March 9, 2011 at 3:01 AM
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was here for bang the party. disappointed in the crappy soundsystem - they really need to do something about the bad quality sound and upgrade the system.

also, when i went to the washroom downstairs, i was told i couldn't come back the same way (which was a few metres from the dancefloor), but had to go all the way upstairs through the back and then back down the main stairs. on the stairs, i found that i had to wait in line because the downstairs was presumably at capacity. that was SO LAME! not really fair to force bathroom go-ers who had been in the space to wait in line along with those who had just arrived.

anyway, the bad layout, the bad sound, and the bathroom sitch makes me uninterested in returning even though i live around the corner. if the sound got upgraded, i would reconsider.

Jasmine / March 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM
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Helen,
I understand your concern,
For the record that was our 2 night open. We opened a weekend early for Andy capp's birthday. Since, then the most of the sound system has been replaced. We have worked out the capacity enter/exit problem. The layout can't be fixed... Sorry.Come back on the19th of march if you can bare it, and check out bang the party again. If not, thanks for coming and sorry you were disappointed.

Robin / May 12, 2011 at 9:33 PM
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This place looks sick. I want to find out more. I call the number above to no avail. Has it changed? Can someone help a sister out?

Serg In replying to a comment from Robin / May 19, 2011 at 6:51 PM
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Sorry. The number is 416 530 1633. The website is crawfordbar.com

Chris Orbz / October 18, 2011 at 7:59 AM
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Sucks. Seriously sucks. Went in, went out, went elsewhere.

Good space, horrible garbage taking place inside. They'd have better music playing with a standard jukebox than the DJs they host.

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