cherry colas toronto

Toronto bar says landlord is threatening to evict them on Christmas Eve

A Toronto bar known for their burlesque shows is trying to crowdfund $80,ooo in order to stay open after their landlord threatened to evict them on Christmas Eve, effectively also throwing the owner out of her home upstairs.

Cherry Cola's has been unable to operate due to COVID-19 restrictions for nine months, and though they say the landlord initially agreed to halt the rent during lockdowns, they added that he has now stated he wants the back rent owing by Dec. 23.

"At the beginning of COVID we had a meeting and he said that as long as we both applied for the government subsidies he would allow me to make up for my rental arrears in payments over time once we resumed our regular operations," Cherry Cola's owner Cherish Stevenson told blogTO.

"Unfortunately those subsidies are not coming through quickly enough and he has grown impatient. He claims to have a new tenant who wants to move in."

The GoFundMe that's been set up to try and crowdsource the back rent Cherry Cola's owes says they were going to "work out a plan to pay back the rent owing once we were allowed to resume our regular operations" and that in the meantime the team at the bar have spent the year refurbishing the space and buiding an outdoor area.

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Pre-COVID-19, performers danced in lightboxes at Cherry Cola's. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

"With these new restrictions in place my landlord has since changed his mind and to further complicate matters he has stated that he wants the back rent owing by December 23rd or he will 'Call in the Bailiff,' serve me with eviction papers and lock me out on Christmas Eve," reads the GoFundMe page, written by Stevenson. 

"This bar and this building have been my home for 10 years....both downstairs and up. If I lose the bar, I lose my both of my homes."

Stevenson wanted to try and come up with creative solutions of her own without asking for help, thinking she'd maybe innovate with a 48-hour livestream concert, but says that COVID restrictions prevented even ideas like that.

"I'm not accustomed to asking for help... especially when it comes to my business, but It has been suggested to me many times by a multitude of friends that I start this campaign. I swore I would never do this because I know how many people are suffering right now, but I've exhausted my resources. So here I am," Stevenson writes.

"Please know this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. All I know is that if I don’t try everything I possibly can that I'm not only letting myself down, but I'll also be letting down all of you. I just won't let it go down without a fight."

She continues to say that if she can raise even half the rent owed, "it will show a concerted effort on behalf of this beautiful community I'm so blessed to be a part of and prove how much this venue means to our cultural landscape. It's the holidays and I know most everyone has been struggling, but I feel with a collective effort we can make this happen."

Stevenson says friends of hers have suggested "he might be choosing to do this on the holiday because there won't be many people in public office to assist me with fighting it" when it comes to why the Christmas Eve date was chosen.

Only a Grinch would deny someone shelter on Christmas Eve, and it shouldn't take a holiday miracle just to keep a roof over someone's head. While there are still Scrooges in this world let's show them the power of community can make this wish come true. 

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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