cold tea toronto

The most famous hidden bar in Toronto is permanently closing

After a decade, Toronto bar Cold Tea has closed for good. 

Kensington Market's pioneering bar at the end of the hallway announced Sunday that their lease is up at the end of 2020, in arguably one of the worst years ever for local businesses. 

With indoor dining banned for the foreseeable future and bar closures since March, Cold Tea is turning off the red light on its Kensington Mall location permanently and moving all its operations to its Queen Street bar. 

"We knew our lease was expiring at the end of 2020 and struggled with the landlords over the last 18 months to solidify a new one," wrote Cold Tea owners Stacey Welton and Oliver Dimapilis. 

"Unfortunately, and even after being a solid tenant for 10 years, and amidst COVID, they refused to be reasoned with. This is a tough pill for us to swallow and we fought hard." 

The early days of Cold Tea, which opened in 2010, were a revelation to Toronto's bar scene, marked by baskets of har gow from the dim sum lady at the front entrance and a visit from Anthony Bourdain.

The bar's later years saw a total rehaul which included a partnership with Leemo Han in the creation of the in-house Juanmoto, a West Coast copycat, and the opening of a second location in the old Brooklynn Bar space in late 2019. 

Summers will never be the same without Cold Tea's packed patio parties and BBQs, where many of Toronto's best DJs saw their come-up behind the backyard bar. A post-lockdown Summer 2021 season at Cold Tea would have been legendary.

Lead photo by

Cold Tea


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