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The city's patio pilot has officially launched, bringing intimate performances to a handful of neighbourhoods this summer and fall
You can finally enjoy some live music on Toronto patios.
After an accelerated journey through city council, licensing and health, Toronto has launched its live music patio pilot in time to catch at least one good month of summer and a decent chunk of autumn. The pilot launched on July 29 and will run until Halloween.
To start, there are three wards participating (Ward 9 Davenport, Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth and Ward 19 Beaches-East York, if you’re up on your zoning), which encompass a handful of neighbourhoods: Riverside, the Beaches, Leslieville and the Danforth in the east end and Little Portugal/Dundas West, Bloorcourt and West Queen West in the west.
The launch came quickly, so many of the allowed bars and restaurants are still putting together booking, but the office of city councillor Brad Bradford and Toronto’s music office sent NOW a list of spots that have expressed interest or confirmed their participation and their Business Improvement Area (BIA).
|Papyrus||Danforth Mosaic BIA|
|7 Numbers||Danforth Mosaic BIA|
|SideBar||Danforth Mosaic BIA|
|Dora Keogh||Danforth Mosaic BIA|
|The Black Swan|
|Danforth Mosaic BIA|
Danforth Mosaic BIA
|Mercantino e Vini||Leslieville BIA|
|Radical Road Brewing Co||Leslieville BIA|
|The Good Son||West Queen West BIA|
|Wayward||West Queen West BIA|
|Hello 123||West Queen West BIA|
|Dog & Bear||West Queen West BIA|
|Nuit Social||West Queen West BIA|
|Nunu||West Queen West BIA|
|Apres||West Queen West BIA|
|PG Clucks||West Queen West BIA|
|The Stone Lion||The Beach BIA|
|Castro’s||The Beach BIA|
|Limon||The Beach BIA|
|Mira Mira||The Beach BIA|
|Sauce on the Danforth||Danforth BIA|
|Eastbound Brewing Co||Riverside BIA|
|Prohibition Social House||Riverside BIA|
|Riverside Burgers||Riverside BIA|
|White Lily Diner||Riverside BIA|
|Brickworks Ciderhouse||Riverside BIA|
|Indian Spice Room||Riverside BIA|
|Est Restaurant||Riverside BIA|
|The Opera House Grill||Riverside BIA|
|Hi Lo Bar||Riverside BIA|
|The Comrade||Riverside BIA|
|La Carnita||Riverside BIA|
|Punjabi By Nature Bar & Grill||Riverside BIA|
|Chez Nous||Riverside BIA|
|Grape Crush WIne||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|Churchill Bar||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|La Chingada||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|City Pool||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|Milou||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|The Federal||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|Lula Lounge||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|The Half Point||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|Swan Dive||Little Portugal on Dundas BIA|
|Wise Bar||Bloorcourt BIA|
|The Piston||Bloorcourt BIA|
That’s a big and diverse list of spots that includes neighbourhood diners, breweries, pubs and bars – including some that would have been participating in street festivals like Dundas West Fest and Taste Of The Danforth in non-pandemic years.
There’s no list of performances just yet, but there will be an events calendar launching next week as part of Toronto’s ShowLoveTO portal.
Already struggling, Toronto’s music venues have been some of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic, so it’s nice to see some established music venues participating. One of those is long-time Dundas West spot for Latin and global roots music, Lula Lounge.
According to Lula’s Tracy Jenkins, the venue will use the pilot to put on a new weekly series called Cuba Meets Mexico. The event, which will run Saturdays from 6 to 8:30 pm, will feature Cuban music and Mexican tacos served by Flor Mexicana, a pop-up restaurant that’s been operating within Lula Lounge. It starts this weekend with a trio called La Patria Vida featuring three Canadian-Cuban artists: Pablosky Rosales, Magdelys Savigne and Roberto Riveron on bass. They’re also aiming to book Brazilian music on Sunday afternoons, Jenkins says, though she’s not sure yet how frequently.
Another pillar of the live music scene is the Opera House, whose attached restaurant Opera House Grill is on the list. That Queen East venue is taking a more collaborative approach, teaming with the Riverside BIA for a series of travelling band performances.
“We thought it was a great opportunity when we first heard about it, so we jumped on it,” says the BIA’s Jennifer Lay. “Queen East is the perfect place for it.”
The CafeTO curb lane enclosure patios in that neighbourhood are shared between up to four businesses, so they’ll be working together as an extension of the BIA’s Queen East Eats collaboration with the Leslieville BIA. There are seven patios in total, and so there will be seven weeks of performances with one or two bands popping up across different patios. Lay says they’re still confirming, but they will be established local bands with names you might know.
Officially, amplified live music is not allowed on Toronto patios without a specific permit. This pilot is a way of setting rules that can become permanent exceptions that can eventually be transmitted to other neighbourhoods.
As part of the pilot, music is only permitted within scheduled times:
Thursdays & Fridays: 5-10 pm
Saturdays: 12-10 pm
Sundays: 12-6 pm
BIAs will support the programs and some city funding will also be available.
Only CafeTO patios – the temporary street and curb patios extended during the pandemic – are allowed to have amplified live music as part of the pilot. That excludes spots with their own private property patios. They’ll also be subject to Toronto’s noise bylaws.
Still, your chances of wandering upon live music while taking a stroll across one of Toronto’s major streets have just gone way, way up.