The venerable Queen W. music venue changes hands, in a way
After going on the block late last year, the Cameron House has been sold and will close May 1. And the new owners are the old owners, sorta.
Owners Paul Sannella and Cindy Matthews have been bought out by their silent partners – Paul Sannella’s family. The Sannella’s, brother and sisters, were also behind Greg Couillard’s now-defunct Spice Room.
Though the artists-in-residence who occupy the three floors of apartments over the legendary 30 year-old watering-hole are reportedly not being affected by the buy-out, Cameron staff have been given eight weeks notice.
“All we were told is that the Cameron is going to continue as a family-run business, whatever that means,” says Duncan Buchanan who worked the bar for 23 of those years. “I asked Cindy what they were going to do, and she said she had no idea. It sounds to me like it’s going to be a bunch of rich 20 year-old kids from Thornhill and Rosedale trying to run a club.”
Not quite the case, says Paul Sannella.
“I am and will continue to be an owner and an operator of the Cameron,” says Sanella. “My sister Ann Marie Ferraro is still an owner and will assume a more active role in the operation of the business as her kids are older and less reliant on her. Cindy Matthews is, and has been, very anxious to sell the place and discontinue her position as manager. She lives an hour away and has two small children and a husband whose career takes him out of town for weeks at a time.
“We put the Cameron on the market for three months to see if we could cash in our chips. Though there was lots of interest and some serious offers, none were offering enough or they came with multiple conditions that would have complicated the deal and might have required more in lawyer fees so as to make them moot. We then decided to take it off the market, offer Cindy a price that bettered the best offer without the necessity of expensive and extensive legal advice.
“To fill the void that Cindy’s departure will create, Ann Marie’s eldest son, Cosmo, will step in and assume the managerial position. He has a business degree from university, is an accomplished musician with knowledge of the local music scene and well liked and respected by many working musicians. He has been working at the Cameron for about a year and a half and for the last several months has been working closely with Cindy to learn what that job requires. To call him or his family rich would be news to them. Hardworking, creative, enterprising would be more accurate.
“It is true that we are letting some of the staff go,” Sannella explains. “This should be of no surprise to any of them as they have been aware that changes were coming whether we sold the place or not. This news is not new to them and they have been given plenty of notice (more than 90 days) and will be treated fairly and respectfully.
“I hope this provides another take on this tale.”[rssbreak]