Toronto bar remains a cheap hub for fun despite a decade of neighbourhood changes
The Get Well bar on Dundas West near Ossington may have a dozen vintage arcade games but it isn't your average arcade bar. Nor is it a craft beer spot or a pizza restaurant.
It simply can't be described as just one thing says bar owner Alan Kelley, who has worked tirelessly for the last 11 years to ensure that it's a combination of arcade amusement, cheesy pizzas and an array of drinks wrapped up into a fun and welcoming environment.
While some of Get Well’s neighbours might get a bad rap for being pretentious and overpriced, this neighbourhood local isn't pretending to be anything they aren't.
That means literally anybody can walk in and find something they can enjoy, whether a gamer or craft beer aficionado.
"If you want to drink a vodka soda and play video games, great. If you want to drink a craft beer and not do anything, cool. If you want to order pizza and do you know, whatever, great. It's whatever experience each individual wants," says Kelley.
That means there's a variety of local brews on rotating taps, tons of canned cocktails, seltzers and wines, and simple bar rail concoctions. The bar's newest addition includes creative alcohol-free drinks - it's not just ginger beer here.
"There are so many breweries and honestly it's super overwhelming compared to what it was 10 years ago," says Kelley, who recalls when he was the one hitting the streets looking for options back in 2012 when the bar opened.
Now those suppliers are coming to him, having built great relationships with Ontario breweries means you can sometimes find a special one-off keg showcasing the newest ale or the hottest sour beer.
You might remember this spot for being an outpost of the famed North of Brooklyn Pizzeria, dishing out slices from the back kitchen, similar to sister bar Greater Good on Geary.
But after the waves of uncertainty and changes over the past three years, Get Well has taken the pizza-making in-house.
Get Well's head pizzaiolo Jason was trained at Little Italy's Vivoli, who honed his craft using a wood-burning oven. He now brings his pub background to the bar.
He pitched a cheese-y Ninja Turtle pizza slice concept to Kelley and the duo haven't looked back since.
The huge sourdough pies are made using dough that's cold-fermented for 72 hours. The latter process allows the crusts to get those nice crunchy air bubbles.
The Pepperoni Pizza ($27) comes topped with crispy pepperoni rounds and fennel pollen, while the other best-seller, Mushroom ($29) tops a mozzarella and garlic oil dressed pie with an impressive blend of cremini, maitake, and honey mushrooms plus goat cheese.
Get Well dishes out slices every night until 2 a.m. I'm told the kitchen sells 300-400 slices every week. This gigantic number doesn't even include whole pies.
"From 12 a.m. - 2 a.m. we're slammed with [orders for] slices," Jason tells me.
Clearly, pizza is the perfect companion to a belly full of beer and a game of Star Wars pinball. But if you're not hankering for a slice, watch out for weekly specials that could feature mac-and-cheese or nachos.
You’ll find Get Well popping on a Thursday night with regulars and newbies. Although the business is picking back up to 2019 levels, there is still some hesitant customers.
However, being closed for two years means that there is a crop of first-time 19-year-old bar-goers that are only now heading to Get Well and experiencing this environment first-hand. It's definitely special and unique.
"Consistency is kind of something I was really focused on. We don't really do DJs. You come and ideally, you know what it’s going to be like," says Kelley, reflecting on the last decade as "staying true to our roots."
Visit Get Well at 1181 Dundas Street West.
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