the ballroom bowl yorkville

Ballroom Bowl Yorkville

The Ballroom Bowl Yorkville is the highly-anticipated second location of the local bowling alley bar, which is undergoing an ambitious expansion more than a decade after opening its first lanes in the Entertainment District.

When the OG Ballroom debuted at the corner of John and Richmond in 2010, it offered up a concept that was familiar and nostalgic, but at the same time, completely novel for the downtown core: the time-honoured sport of bowling, but elevated, in a modern space complete with a full food and drink menu.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleThe stunning Yorkville location takes the brand one massive step further with 38,500 square feet of subterranean space at the mammoth One Bloor East development at the corner of Yonge and Bloor.

And, since Ballroom signed on for the lower-level unit formerly occupied by a McEwan Fine Foods, they've attracted a slew of other businesses to the property.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleThe Yonge and Bloor space — like its predecessor on John and the forthcoming Yonge-Dundas outpost — presents its own unique spin on the Ballroom brand, infused in every detail to make for an entirely different ambience.

the ballroom bowl"They're all completely different, they all represent the neighbourhoods they're in... but the product, the customer service, the premium casual brand and the elevated experience is present at every location," Ballroom founder Paul Donato explained to me at the new spot, which was bumping with people when I visited, even on a rainy weekday evening.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleThe venue is spacious and open, but warm and comfortable, with luxe finishes, from the mid-century-modern leather leather barstools and cushy, private-feeling booths to the stunning backlit recessed shelves used to store the extensive alcohol selection.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleA sophisticated electric fireplace serves as the centrepiece of the dining area, where you can sit and grab some cocktails and a meal, which you can also take over to the bowling lanes.

The food at Ballroom ranges from $10 to $30, each dish an original take on a pub staple.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleApps like artichoke and white bean hummus ($16), karaage chicken ($18) and spicy crab dip ($21) can be eaten solo or shared on the lanes, and the same goes for handhelds like the turkey-chimi ($19), beet reuben ($18) or fried chicken CHC ($21). 

the ballroom bowlMains include Atlantic salmon ($25), short rib mac n' cheese ($24), steak frites ($30) and a roasted cauliflower steak ($23), while four salad bowls are also on offer, ranging from $13 for a market salad to $17 for a caesar.

the ballroom bowlYou can wash them down with one of the 10 house cocktails (plus two mocktails), which are colourful and delicious, ranging from $9 to $23.

the ballroom bowl yorkville

But, of course, the bowling lanes are the star of the show — far from those at your dusty old hometown alley, these add high tech features to a classic activity, including multicoloured and black lighting to highlight the pins during play, and the ability to add fun selfies for each player that pop up on the screen.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleThe amenities, equipment, atmosphere and experience overall brings bowling into the 2020s, with Donato pointing out that you'd be hard pressed to find a single person sitting on their phone in the entire establishment, with everyone on their feet playing, chatting, imbibing in a drink or a meal and generally just having a blast.

the ballroom bowlAs Donato says, "In a world of uber technology and social media that was designed to bring people together but is now driving us all apart, there's bowling. Everybody can do it, everybody loves it. When you don't want to go out in the rain on a Friday night, you throw your first ball down the lane and you're happy."

the ballroom bowlHe also points out that Ballroom started — and still exists — in a time when the city has a serious dearth of places to play the sport.

Booking a lane for the standard hour at Ballroom is $27.50 per person on weekdays and $32.50 a person on weekends (for up to 8 people), which also covers shoe rentals.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleAlong with its eight cutting-edge lanes — including two separated VIP lanes — and their seating areas, the sprawling space also has a private events room for get-togethers ranging from birthday parties to business meetings, both of which Ballroom feels like the perfect venue for.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleAnd while some entrepreneurs might balk at the idea of expanding amid the the current economic landscape, Donato is no normal entrepreneur.

With a second location just opened and another on the way soonafter, his vision is to grow even bigger, starting with Southern Ontario and the rest of Canada.

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleDonato told me that he has his sights set on more Ballroom Bowls around Ontario, with the aim (and confidence) to be "Canada's premiere, premium-casual and only bowling company of this stature in the country."

the ballroom bowl yorkvilleBallroom Bowl Yorkville isn't technically located in Yorkville proper, but right on its edge at 1 Bloor St. East.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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