nightowl toronto

Toronto bar opens second location and plans are in the works for 3 more

One of Toronto's spots for live entertainment and creative cocktails has opened a new location at 725 Queen Street East, where Jaspar Dandy used to be.

While most businesses have decided to close some or all locations during the pandemic, Nightowl decided to open up a brand new one.

Their new Riverside location has a patio and is open for outdoor dining while the original College Street location remains closed.

Their spot on College couldn't add a curbside patio because of a streetcar stop in front of their business so they have no way to accommodate outdoor dining.

Kurt Barton, Nightowl's new owner, bought the Queen location for Nightowl at the beginning of the year just before also buying the College Street spot.

According to Barton, both locations will be opening for indoor drinking and dining during Stage 3.

While the College Street doors have been closed, the popular arcade bar and live music venue is getting a slight makeover on the inside - including a paint job and some new furniture.

Barton also teamed up with chef Jean-Pierre Challet to give traditional pub food from a gastropub a more sophisticated French twist.

Challet's creations including homemade burger buns which he makes himself at 7 a.m. will be available at both locations.

"Beyond meat burgers are the only packaged food item we buy," Barton told blogTO. "We wanted to cater to our vegetarian and vegan customers but everything else is completely homemade - including the mayonnaise."

Barton said that the price points at his gastropub are still the same but he wanted to elevate the food and also partner with a few local wineries.

According to Barton, Nightowl will be focusing on private functions as well as implementing a good brunch program including drag brunches, Saturday morning cartoons, and of course, their specialty, live music.

For an industry with the business model to jam as many people as possible into a small space and make the most money you possibly can, Stage 3 and COVID-19 in general has been an interesting time for restaurant and bar owners such as Barton.

But like many businesses, Barton has had to pivot his business model and focus on the health and safety of his community.

"We've opted for a no excuses policy when it comes to masks and guests. It was a tough choice but whether the excuse is legitimate or not, we've decided to make the 49 of 50 customers happy instead of catering to the one," Barton told blogTO.

"Even if the guest has a doctor's note or valid excuse, we will let them know that our place isn’t for them until post-COVID."

Barton says he aspires to be a leading example and show the city and province as a whole that this can be done safely.

"If we do a bad job, we don't want to ruin it for the bigger guys trying to open and make money," he says.

"Our mission is for guests to have a good time, feel safe, and feel happy, especially in our post-COVID world," Barton said. "Your dollar means a lot more now and we want guests to know we value every dollar they spend with us and every time they come back."

Barton has already found a spot in Parkdale for a potential third location and hopes to have a total of five Nightowl locations over the next five years.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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