jean darlene toronto

Toronto is getting a secret new piano bar with a hidden entrance

Toronto is getting a brand new piano bar that's not only interactive, it's also named in honour of one of Toronto's oldest clothing stores that closed a few years back.

Jean Darlene is set to become Toronto's newest venue where you can not only take in live performances, you can put them on yourself. While there will be professional acts scheduled, budding artists are encouraged to volunteer to go up on stage. 

There will be singalongs and open mic nights. There's even a recording studio in the basement where winners of the open mic nights could be offered free recording sessions.

Regularly scheduled pianists will take requests and there's a promise that special guests will be popping in to perform. There's also a full DJ setup available for certain nights and private parties.

Events should include drag nights, live samba, Beatles and Rolling Stones singalongs, as well as The Jean Darlene Time Machine with Derek Downham of The Beauties where you'll be able to sing along to rock and pop music from eras between the 1960s and 1990s.

When there isn't a live act, the bar will also have a fully restored 1920 Heintzman Player Piano that can play over 10,000 songs all on its own.

A ghostly piano isn't the only thing that makes the dim venue mysterious: the entrance is also accessed by a secretive laneway.

The venue is named Jean Darlene after the Little Portugal Children and Women's clothing store that was at the same address from 1972 t0 2018. The building was actually taken over in 2018 and construction started in 2019, but there were delays due to the circumstances of the past few years.

Jean Darlene comes to us from some of the people who've been behind Haifa Room, Paris Paris, Kupfert & Kim, Danny's Pizza Tavern and Mod Club.

"We've always envisioned an intimate and interactive piano lounge reminiscent of 70s Hollywood, where it's nighttime all the time and anyone can get up and strut their stuff behind the microphone," says owner Fadi Hakim.

In addition to the venue, there will also be a cafe and bookstore at the front of the building called Lev Gleason's Coffee House, with offices for Lev Gleason Publications in the rear that's currently in construction. There's also a med spa upstairs.

Jean Darlene is opening to the public on November 5.

Lead photo by

Jean Darlene

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