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Eat & Drink

Toronto looks on as Montreal pushes last call past 5am

Posted by Derek Flack / April 28, 2014

Montreal last call 5amLast call in Toronto has always felt kind of early after returning from visits to New York or the week after a festival like TIFF or NXNE has provided barflies an extra two hours of drinking time. With news that Montreal will do a pilot project to keep some bars open until 5:30 a.m. this summer, however, our own mark of 2:00 a.m. feels even more conservative than it did previously. Who knows if 5:30 a.m. is even a good idea for last call (why close at all?), but the gap underscores the old theory that Montreal is just more fun than Toronto, something that Mayor Denis Coderre joked about this weekend.

"There is a night life in Montreal," he told reporters in speaking about the 5:30 a.m. pilot. "The only reason there is one in Toronto is because there's a half a million Montrealers who have moved there." The joke might ultimately be on him, but at least the guy has got a sense of humour. That said, it's probably worth noting that a 2:00 a.m. last call is actually pretty standard (later drinking hours are the exception rather than the rule).

While there's growing pressure to extend last call in Toronto, our mayoral candidates have mixed opinions on the matter. Rob Ford is apparently against the idea, but that might just be him doing a modicum of image control leading up to the election. Others like David Soknacki think that a 4:00 a.m. last call would effectively eliminate booze cans. If only this guy had a shot at winning come October.

What do you think? Should Toronto follow Montreal's lead and extend last call? Is 5:30 a.m. too late? How late would you like to see our bars and clubs able to serve booze?



Randy / April 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm
And Mayor of Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says "There is a night life in Montreal", "The only reason there is one in Toronto is because there's a half a million Montrealers who have moved there."
Todd Toronto / April 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm
No way, man. Blue laws are Ontario's thing. Without those antiquated laws, we're just like any other province. We'd be like Manitoba with a baseball team.
TorontoFoodBwoy / April 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm
The rest of the world views 2 am last calls and centralized Liqour stores as reminiscent of a high school party. Its pretty embarrassing to reveal these things about Toronto to people from all over the world haha
downtownliver / April 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm
You know what I would enjoy less than drunkards yelling at 3 am walking along King? Drunkards yelling at 5 am.

When clubs aren't zoned beside/underneath multi-story residential apartments then you can extend the hours. Until then, a bit of consideration for the thousands that live near the clubs and who have to work in the morning would be appreciated.

I don't go up to Woodbridge and get drunk, pump my music and yell like a hooligan infront of your house, please don't come down and do it infront of mine.

Yes I realize the clubs were there first, but wasn't Olivia Chow all up in arms about raves at the Docks in 1998 waking up the Islanders? Maybe she could do the same for downtown condo dwellers?
Aaron / April 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm
Strange title: "Toronto looks on as Montreal pushes last call past 5am"

What? Too hard to type 5:30 am?
Ryan / April 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm
Love Montreal, but 5:30 am is a bit much.

Maybe I'm getting old, but if you want for more at 4:01 on a regular basis, you should probably be told 'no'.

T.O. should be 3am.
dee kay / April 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm
I think 4am makes sense. The rush of getting somewhere for 11PM before the ridiculous line ups so that you can get in and make that 20$ cover remotely worthwhile, is getting super annoying.
K / April 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm
At least 5:30 am is closer to when transit starts running more than just the Blue Night service. I stopped staying out until last call because it shouldn't take me 2-3 hours to get home at that time of night in a city like this.
Zlatko a Torontonian living in Frankfurt, Germany / April 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Hi there, I'm a born and raised Torontonian living in Frankfurt, Germany. When I moved here in 1999, the drinking law had just changed from closing at 2 am to staying open around the clock, letting the bar owners close when they wanted. The only stipulation in the law is the bar would have to close for one hour every day for cleaning and maintenance. Most bars have something called an "open end" policy, meaning they stay open while there's people in the bar. The popular bars and clubs downtown stay open until 6:30 am on the weekends and the system works just fine. Like Toronto, Frankfurt is a major financial centre as well as having a very busy convention centre and I think liberalizing the drinking laws in Toronto could only help a vibrant and thriving and busy city as Toronto! Cheers!
Be Reasonable / April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm
I think 3am is reasonable. As someone who has lived in both Toronto and Montreal, it's a perfect middle-ground.

2am is too early - it makes people rush to the bar and then there is a mad rush to get cabs and a lot more illegal booze cans for people not ready to shut it down.

4am is too late - it's fine for special events, but not really necessary for every weekend - By the time everybody is out, it's 430.

3am is a perfect medium - Stagnates the exit of people, allowing for both customers to hail a taxi and drivers to make more money on more than 1 after bar run.

Just my thoughts.

YK replying to a comment from K / April 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm
This makes sense,
In a city like Toronto, it shouldnt take me 2hrs to come home from downtown Toronto at 2am in the morning. I live at Bayview & Finch.

Sometime I take a cab and it costs me $70+

really sux...
Randy / April 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm
4 am would be acceptable. I don't drink and I only club once a year, but I remember having a wonderful time in NYC and Germany the last couple times I went out. My friend and I recently tried to go out in Toronto, we went for dinner at 1 am then arrived at the club at 2, and were shocked that it was closed. It seemed that we were not alone, and a lot of people were trying the locked doors. It makes Toronto look silly.
Derek replying to a comment from Aaron / April 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm
@Aaron — You're less obsessive compulsive than I am. I can't stand widows in titles.
SBS / April 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm
Who exactly is this supposed to help out? I was out on Saturday night and saw huge lineups around every club in the district. The night life in Toronto is nowhere near struggling. Are we going to have a thriving city only when bar owners are allowed to stay in business until the sun rises? There are MANY factors that contribute to a city being "world class" and I don't see how drinking really contributes as much as people make it out to seem. This sheep mentality perpetuated by people of doing things because other cities do it isn't helping anyone.
Off to MTL / April 28, 2014 at 01:00 pm
Im actually heading to Montreal this weekend.

Any suggestions as to where i can party, good dinners, etc?

Group of mid 30 guys, all with decent jobs, can afford nicer options, but also not limiting ourselves to anything that could be fun.

Let me know!
SBS replying to a comment from SBS / April 28, 2014 at 01:01 pm
Replying to my own post, I'm also someone that used to work at a club as a 2nd job to make ends meet. I already had a day job, as many people who work at bars/clubs do, and it was already hard enough getting home around 3am and then getting up to work at 9am. 5:30 would make it pretty near impossible for someone to have a job or be a student during the day.
Sheriff Buford T Justice / April 28, 2014 at 01:29 pm
I just start drink earlier. Easy.
Soused / April 28, 2014 at 01:42 pm
The powerful "get drunk at brunch" lobby with their $12 Mimosas will fight later drinker hours until the bitter end.
Downtown Guy replying to a comment from downtownliver / April 28, 2014 at 01:48 pm
You know, you can just live somewhere else right? I understand it's probably pretty annoying but no one has a gun to your head forcing you to live there. I'm sure it's real sweet to brag how you live in the middle of everything but you should understand what that comes with.

In terms of the article though, I think 5:30 is a bit much, even for someone who makes it past that time on a semi-regular basis. I think 4am would be reasonable as it has the capability to change the bar / club culture. No longer would everyone need to rush at 10:30 and crush alcohol for the 2.5 - 3 hours you're actually inside only to have the entire herd leave right at 2am. In other cities with later last calls people get to show up when they want and tend to leave when they want rather than having your schedule dictated by last call.
Greg Hannah replying to a comment from Sheriff Buford T Justice / April 28, 2014 at 01:53 pm
You do know that tens of thousands of people work 11pm to 1am (or later) right? I'm not a drinker anymore - and I've lived downtown for nearly 30 years, but I see younger people who want to go out for a few drinks (or food) after work and they often have to rush to make last call or before kitchens close. It should be extended until 3 or 4am, voluntarily, on an application-by-application basis. I hear the yahoo'ing most nights, if I'm listening - otherwise I don't hear it. You know what I do hear? Street and sidewalk sweepers at 3 or 4am, garbage trucks dumping those huge bins into the back of the truck at 6am. Fire and police sirens. But that's city living. I choose to live where I do, so I accept the noise. It wasn't so long ago last call was 1am & 11pm on Sundays, did the city collapse when they extended to 2am every night and 4am during special events? No.
zong / April 28, 2014 at 01:58 pm
If you need one more drink at 4 in the morning, you should really evaluate your priorities.
Alexander replying to a comment from Greg Hannah / April 28, 2014 at 02:11 pm
Right and has the city (the most important one in the country) imploded because you can't drink at 3am?

I don't know why this is so complicated...nothing good has ever happened at 3am...nothing. This isn't about the "thousands" of people who work until 1am and want to have a quiet beer at a pub after work (lol), it's about clubs putting more booze into people who are out partying and started at 11 (or whatever).

If you choose to drink until 2am and that means it's expensive to get home, tough. If you decide to start your evening at 11pm that's your choice.

There is a reason Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America.
agentsmith / April 28, 2014 at 02:26 pm
If they can change drinking hours temporarily for festivals, Olympic hockey games, World Cup soccer, etc, and it doesn't suddenly result in mass chaos and riots in the streets, what should that tell us? That there's little danger from doing it full-time.
Munzz replying to a comment from downtownliver / April 28, 2014 at 03:30 pm
dont live near the bars then. if you chose to live there, then you know it comes with price. it's like moving close to the airport and complaining about noise and pollution.
Randall Ford / April 28, 2014 at 03:32 pm
*burp* whys we got a last call brotha? *burp* my daddy put a a lie dictator *burp* detector because he thinks we *burp* stole his money. robbie is the best *hiccup* mayor toronto evers had *burp* I Love You Man evens if you smoke craaa *hiccup* shhhh mama says we cant talk abouts that. hey rob make *burp* last call 6:30am so we can drink till *hiccup* we gots to go churching. my brother is a bufoon that douglas. i want to make love to his daughter. you see the rack on her when she *hiccup* holds a football? okay *burp* i dont want to say this but we is *hiccup* inbreds. we fords is inbreds. *giggle* oops let the cat *burp* outta a bag. :D
Lily / April 28, 2014 at 03:42 pm
Even though I'm in my 30s and almost never go out anymore, I am for no last call/closing time or as late as possible. I think this gives people a chance to sober up and to spread their drinking out over the night instead of just going hard at it right before 2 am. I remember going out in Shanghai at 14 years old and staying 'till 7 am when the sun was up...everyone was just more chill and laidback with their drinks as a result of no closing time/last call.

Also, if bottle service and bars could serve appetizers or snacks with drinks all night long, this could help people level out their drinking more too.

Finally, bartenders and host(esses) don't have to work even later...they could just break up the shifts. For those with jobs during the day, they could work for eg. from 11 pm to 2 am, someone else works the next shift from 2 am to 5 am, etc.

Rich Matukaitis / April 28, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Extending last call eliminates the influx of bar-goers flooding the streets at 2am. Considering most people don't go out until 12 or so, 2 am creeping up as fast as it does just forces these people to get too hammered too quickly. Extend it to 5, and people will gradually leave as opposed to a mass exodus. And as for people living above nightclubs that ALREADY existed prior to their living there. Grow up. Don't move to the club district and then complain about clubs. That's like moving next to an airport and complaining about planes.
YK replying to a comment from Greg Hannah / April 28, 2014 at 04:10 pm
Yea Greg is right,
3am 4am 5am 6am , it won't make any differences,
what is the real reason behind last call at 2am anyways?
who came up with that law?

2am and 4am, what is the huge difference?
if i dont like kids making noise at 2am, i am pretty sure, i dont like them making noise at 12pm
so why not just ban drinking after 10pm so we can all go to sleep..

Steve / April 28, 2014 at 04:14 pm
I agree about 3am. 2am is alright but when some places stop serving at 1:15/1:30 in order to meet the 2am deadline it's frustrating.
Elle Em / April 28, 2014 at 04:24 pm
If you live downtown, downtown noise is part of the package. Suck it up or don't live downtown.
Tony / April 28, 2014 at 04:27 pm
"The only reason there is one in Toronto is because there's a half a million Montrealers who have moved there". He should be asking himself if Montreal is such a great city why half a million Montrealers wanted to leave. Most resto's and bars/clubs in Montreal shut down after 6 months anyways they never last that long.
rAmi / April 28, 2014 at 04:36 pm
its in 24 bars in all of Montreal and only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from June 12 to July 5.

Dave / April 28, 2014 at 04:53 pm
I think a 4 am last call is perfect. As for Toronto being the 4th largest city, it has nothing to do with the bars closing at 2. Secondly people that want a drink at 3 am do not have to get their "priorities" right. I work until 11 pm and get home around 12. I don't have time to go out with friends with a 2 am last call. What this is really about is having more options. Not people with drinking problems. Lastly I know this has been said numerious times but complaining about noise it YOUR problem. Move.
Jones / April 28, 2014 at 04:55 pm
Is it possible that council charge a fee for the option of a later last call? The venue pays a fee to the city for the privilege of getting to sell more drinks and the city some needed dollars for the extra police hours that would presumably be associated with this or some other purpose.

Forgive me if this was already suggested.
Patrick / April 28, 2014 at 07:50 pm
I think having certain bars which are an appropriate distance (or have effective noise controls in place) from significant residential areas with liquor licenses that enable them to stay open to a certain time is most effective. I lived in Sydney for a year where different bars have different hours depending on their licenses and for the most part seemed to work quite well for all parties involved.
Reddy / April 28, 2014 at 09:15 pm
I'm all for last call being around 4am, but the TTC has to step their game up too and make sure service is available 24 hours a day. That's the only way it could work. And good luck getting the TTC on board.
Steve replying to a comment from downtownliver / April 28, 2014 at 09:47 pm
This is really stupid, you decided to live in a central zone of a metropolis. You cant complain about people having fun their. The reason so many people want to live there is for that fact. If you don't live it then move on. It is like complaining noise from a fire station after you have moved into the location.
Ryan / April 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm
Toronto is a boring city. I know what I'm saying because I lived in Montreal.

Montreal is cool and cheaper than Toronto. Thinking in moving back
Coco / April 28, 2014 at 11:16 pm
Toronto has comfort zone. I'm pretty content with that. Besides, drinking makes you fat.
Moniqua replying to a comment from Ryan / April 29, 2014 at 10:10 am
So Ryan but Montreal is boring as shit. The one thing they do have over Toronto is somewhat better nightlife pertaining to club venues. But that's it. Otherwise in comparison it just feels like going to a larger Ottawa for most of us in Toronto.
Noah replying to a comment from Moniqua / April 29, 2014 at 11:07 am
I wouldn't agree with that at all.

I prefer Toronto, but Montreal is an amazing place. It's so much fun and so beautiful that I don't care that Montrealers hate our guts.
Simon replying to a comment from downtownliver / April 29, 2014 at 11:54 am
If you can't handle the noise of a downtown core, move to the suburbs, that's they're there for. People who move right next to a clubbing district shouldn't complain about noise, it was there own fault for not doing the research before moving there.
Montrealer in Toronto / April 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm
You stiffs need to liven up a bit
Dudebro McGuyfellow / April 29, 2014 at 09:49 pm
To address the NIMBY issue, what if bars had to apply for later licenses, which they could only receive if they were zoned appropriately far from highly residential areas?
matt / May 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Until the subway runs later than 1:30am who cares what times the bars are open until. But I'm a cheap bastard who doesn't like taking cabs home after a late expensive night of drinking.
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