Toronto rock venue Cherry Cola’s launches GoFundMe to avoid closing

The Queen and Bathurst bar and music venue is trying to raise $80,000 by Christmas Eve

Toronto music venues are turning to crowd-funding to survive the pandemic.

A week after Hard Luck Bar launched a GoFundMe to cover rent and expenses, fellow rock bar Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret & Lounge at Bathurst and Queen has launched one of its own.

According to the GoFundMe page Keep Cherry Cola’s Rockin’ & Rollin’, the situation for the Bathurst bar and music venue is very urgent. Owner Cherish Stevenson writes that she’ll be locked out on Christmas Eve if she can’t pay the bar’s back rent by December 23.

“When the pandemic hit, my landlord agreed to halt the rent while COVID had us all on lockdown and we would work out a plan to pay back the rent owing once we were allowed to resume our regular operations,” she writes.

In the meantime, she says she has made renovations to Cherry Cola’s, including a new outdoor area, in order to open for business once regulations allow. But she says the landlord now wants the rent paid back right away. Stevenson lives above the bar, so is at risk of losing both her home and her business, she says.

“I have been racking my brain trying to come up with creative solutions to address this issue,” says the GoFundMe. “I thought maybe we’d run a 48-hour livestream concert from the bar, but we’re not even allowed five people in a room right now.”

“I just won’t let it go down without a fight,” she continues. “I wholeheartedly believe in this little venue and all that we do here. This is not only a bar…it’s my home and a second home to so many dear friends, artists and musicians. I’m hoping if we can give the landlord even half of what is owed it will show a concerted effort on behalf of this beautiful community I’m so blessed to be a part of and prove how much this venue means to our cultural landscape.”

The target is set at $80,000. At press time, less than 24 hours after it went up, the GoFundMe has raised more than $9,100.

Cherry Cola’s has been open since 2010 and has been a popular spot for intimate rock concerts, burlesque and drag shows.

It’s been closed for the last nine months during the pandemic, joining a class of Toronto music venues trying to hold on however they can.


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