paddock tavern

Toronto bar says it's permanently closing after 74 years

A bar and live music venue that has served as a staple at the corner of Richmond and Bathurst streets for more than 70 years is the latest Toronto institution to become a casualty of the economic fallout from the global pandemic.

The Paddock Tavern announced over the weekend that it expects to shutter for good sometime in the very near future due to issues with its long-time landlord, who has refused to apply to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, introduced back in May to help small businesses nationwide.

"Our negotiations with our landlord have hit a stalemate. We are willing and able to participate in the CECRA commercial rent assistance program to continue on, but the landlord is not," the pub wrote in a social media post on Saturday.

"We anticipate an eviction once the ban is lifted in September, or after an extension if there is one, if they do not apply for CECRA."

To all our friends, family, casual patrons and long time regulars, it is with a heavy heart we bring you this news: It appears The Paddock will be coming to an end shortly. Our negotiations with our landlord have hit a stalemate. We are willing and able to participate in the CECRA commercial rent assistance to continue on, but the landlord is not. Our lease would end in 2025, they have a developement proposal out for 2023, so we'll leave it to you to speculate on intentions. We anticipate an eviction once the ban is lifted in September, or after an extension if there is one, if they do not apply for CECRA. As we've even offered to cover their 25% cut of rent forgiveness in the program, so they would collect full rent, they've declined, so it does look futile. We've had a long fruitful life though, with countless shared memories by all through the many decades of our existence. From the creation of the bar by Morris Fishman of the horse racing community in 1946, the goth years in the 80s, the restoration of the bar and it's prestige during the 90's, to our current management which started in 2010 and our further involvement with the arts community. We've shared some great times. It's been a wonderful 74 years. We wanted this opportunity to say good bye and invite you out to make some last memories and celebrate all the good times! And we'd also like to thank all the many patrons turned friends, countless musicians that have played our venue, the many festivals that we've been able to host (@canadianmusicweek, @nxne, @indieweek, @musiccitynorth, @toronto_fringe, @summerworks) and the @tiff_net and @canfilmfest parties to just name a few. Thank you to everyone whose made The Paddock such a wonderful place! Please share your memories via social media with the hashtag #paddockmemories and let everyone know why the place was so special. We'll be open till at least the end of the month, every day of the week from 8pm. We'll also be showcasing parts of @riptidebeachpub food menu the next couple weeks, so enjoy some great food, great drinks, and the company of some awesome friends we've all made. Thank you all once again for your support throughout the decades!

A post shared by The Paddock Tavern (@thepaddockto) on

Through the initiative, the federal government subsidizes half of commercial rent payments via a forgivable loan to property owners if they agree to reduce rent for their small business tenants by 75 per cent. Unfortunately, the vast majority of landlords have opted not to take part in it.

Paddock staff added in their post that they even offered to cover part of the cut the landlord would have to take in rent if they did apply to CECRA, to no avail.

They also added that the forthcoming redevelopment of the property into a condo, which is slated to start in 2023, may be a factor in the decision: "Our lease would end in 2025, they have a developement proposal out for 2023, so we'll leave it to you to speculate on intentions," they wrote on Instagram.

First opened in 1946, The Paddock's name is tied to the background of its founder, Morris Fishman, a Toronto jockey, horse trainer and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer.

In their farewell post, current management reminisces on the bar's survival through the city's "goth years in the 80s," along with the full restoration of the bar and its renown in the 90s, and the addition of live music nights through festivals like SXSE, Canadian Music Week, and more. "We've shared some great times. It's been a wonderful 74 years," they write.

Its long and storied history even includes some alleged paranormal activity.

The Paddock is inviting residents to come say their final goodbyes through the end of the month, though a firm closing date has yet to be announced. (Ontario's ban on commercial evictions is at the moment set to last until August 31.)

It also asks patrons to share their memories of the establishment with the hashtag #paddockmemories to "let everyone know why the place was so special."

Lead photo by

Rachel W/Google


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