daytime bar toronto

Why more and more Toronto bars are open during the day

Some of Toronto's dimly lit cocktail bars take on an entirely different identity during the light of day. These cafe-bar hybrids offer a coffee program - for the laptop-toting freelancer crowd - before transforming into bona fide watering holes once the sun goes down.

After Northwood opened in Koreatown back in 2013, it seems like more and more bars are taking on an all-day approach. While this obviously lets them maximize their business hours and cash in on having a liquor license, it also helps them gain a more solid foothold in their communities.

"I find being open in the day is a really nice way to be part of the neighbourhood," say Alison MacKenna, who co-owns The Walton.

After living in England and France, it just seemed natural to start a cafe that stayed open all day.

"You can have coffee, you can have a glass of wine all day long and it's a common sense combination," she says. It just becomes that meeting place and that hub where it serves the community's purposes."

daytime bar torontoThe Orchard's Jason Raabe recently brought in an espresso bar and now keeps his Bloordale music venue open during the day. It made sense for him, considering he also runs a cafe nearby.

He now bakes fresh pastries for both locations and provides another hangout spot in the neighbourhood. He's also paying homage to the Orchard's past.

Before it was Orchard, and previously Clara's Gourmet Burgers, it was a bakery and a cafe that was in business for about 40 years.

"I remember it being always a coffee shop/bakery," says Raabe, a longtime Bloordale resident. "It always seemed like a natural progression to put it back to that at some point."

The Grey Tiger, which is also in Bloordale, used to open earlier than 1 p.m. But owners Ryan Ringer and Becky Ip said it made more sense for them to start serving coffee a bit later in the day.

"When you are a hybrid space, you end up casting a wide net," says Ip. "And then you think maybe we can open at 7 or 8 a.m., and go all the way until 2 a.m. every single day and that's not realistic for us."

To transition into a cocktail bar, Grey Tiger closes its espresso bar and asks patrons to shut down their laptops at 7 p.m.

While The Walton serves coffee at night, MacKenna says she and her team don't permit laptops after 6 p.m.

northwood torontoNorthwood co-owner Richard Pope thinks this transition's more natural. "Nobody wants to be the only person on their laptop on a Friday night at 9 pm when everyone else is drink cocktails around them," he says.

And that's just the beauty of these multi-use spaces.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at The Walton


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