On a typical night at Magpie, if there is such a thing, a small crowd of smokers can be seen from blocks away hanging out in front of the tiny pub. The crowd acts as a flag for the neighborhood bar that, in true Dundas West style, appears reluctant to display any clear form of advertising. A blanket of thick black paint hides the sign inherited from the locations previous owners. The bar's name appears only on a small piece of wood hanging behind the front window.
The lighting is dark, the decor cluttered. Beer and soda signs are scattered along the walls amongst lobby cards and nature photographs. Persian rugs and warm colored lampshades give the bar a cozy feel. Magpie is the home you never knew you had.
The bar is owned by White Cowbell Oklahoma guitar player Graham McIntyre. His common law partner owns Musa , the restaurant located a few stores west that has become famous for its hearty Mediterranean portions and comfortable atmosphere.
Eclectic randomness appears to be Magpie's protocol. Whenever I pass by on my way home, I always make a point of looking through the window to see what scene the bar is playing host to that night. Sometimes people fill every square inch of the room, while on other nights the only patrons are a lone couple sharing an intimate conversation over a pint.
Patron's ages range from twenty to fifty. Magpie seems to welcome anyone who has an appreciation for good beer, engrossing conversation, diverse music, or a strong sense of community.
The beer selection is extensive. Bottles of Innis & Gunn make a regular appearance amongst the ever-changing landscape of the fridge that stands behind the bar. A chalkboard lists eleven local craft brews that are currently available on tap. The names and their prices ($5.50-$6.50) are written over smeared eraser marks, a testament to Magpie's constantly fluctuating beer selection. If hard liquor is your thing, they also carry a variety of whiskeys.
Twice a week musicians set up their instruments in the corner of the bar. Thursdays primarily showcase rock bands. Sundays tend to be more relaxed, profiling musicians whose genres range from folk to jazz.
Other past events have ranged from showings of The Big Lebowski to projecting election night newscasts on the big screen. I will always fondly remember the half full bar sitting in complete silence for twenty minutes as we watched Obama deliver his victory speech from Grant Park, Chicago. For the past three and half years Magpie has been a place for the community to gather and collectively share the moments of their lives.
Writing by Eli Budd