Bar Volo is opening a bottle shop in the Royal Cinema lobby

The Toronto beer destination will also operate the concession stand when the cinema reopens

For a brief moment Tuesday morning, it seemed as though Bar Volo was taking over The Royal.

The Volo Twitter account announced the opening of a bottle shop in July: Bottega Volo, a “destination retail outlet for beer, wine and Italian grocery” in the lobby of the Little Italy repertory cinema on College west of Bathurst.

Naturally, Toronto film Twitter (which, um, includes this writer) went into panic mode at the thought of another of the city’s theatres going dark.

Volo’s tweet used the phrase “permanent headquarters,” and after the acquisition and renovation of the Paradise Theatre by winery owner Moray Tawse, who made the Bloor West venue part of a larger space that includes the restaurant Osteria Rialto, it’s reasonable that people might jump to conclusions. Volo does have a specialty beer bar, Bierria Volo, just two doors west of The Royal.

But Volo’s social media team quickly clarified that The Royal is still going to be The Royal. And the beer bar will operate the concession stand when the cinema reopens “for festivals and private events.”

“We are sub-leasing the concession/lobby, not the auditorium,” Bar Volo tweeted. “Our goal is to maintain & enhance the integrity of the theatre w. our food/drink offerings. We are working w. the landlord & theatre to do this. The facade has been renovated & waiting [for] the day to have crowds again!”

This expansion means Birreria Volo can bring back indoor seating as an Italian beer hall, the company added on Instagram.

In addition to retail sales, Bottega Volo will also host Scuola di Volo – a series of educational seminars with “world renowned producers and guided tastings.”

Bar Volo spent three decades building a rep as the city’s reigning beer bar before closing its Yonge Street location in 2016. It reopened on St. Nicholas, a side street near Yonge and Wellesley, in 2019.

While other rep and independent cinemas in Toronto have been hosting virtual screenings, the Royal has been quiet throughout the pandemic. With indoor cinemas allowed to resume in step three of Ontario’s reopening plan, distributors and cinemas are starting to eye late-July for theatrical openings – assuming vaccination rates keep climbing and COVID-19 cases continue falling.

NOW e-mailed Theatre D, which operates The Royal as a post-production facility during the day, asking for clarification on future plans for the venue. We will update this story with their response.


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