Harlem Underground to close its doors

Restaurant and bar that served as a hub for Black culture in Toronto to shut down as owner opens retreat and gallery space

Harlem Underground (745 Queen West, at Tecumseth), an Afro-American and Caribbean restaurant that doubled as one of the city’s rare Black-owned music and performance venues, will be closing the doors to its last location on Queen West this fall after 10 years.

“Over the last decade Harlem Underground has been an epicentre of Black food and culture within the downtown core. The decision to close … comes from a personal need to see other creative endeavours grow,” founder Carl Cassell wrote in a release.

The announcement follows the closure of Harlem’s Richmond location in 2017.

Art has long been a focus at Harlem Underground, and Cassell says he plans to pursue that further in his post-restaurant career. His recently-built shipping container home – reportedly the first in downtown Toronto – will also double as a gallery, and he plans to break ground on a retreat centre (also built from shipping containers) just outside the city.

Until the restaurant closes on November 11, the restaurant will be offering a special menu of favourite dishes, and will host a number of events with longtime Harlem promoters and event organizers, culminating in four days of farewell events starting November 8.

Read the full closing statement below:


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