“The best punk pit Toronto could imagine” is sunk by cheap beer and high rent
Noble ideals and 16-hour days just aren’t enough to keep up with the rising cost of doing business in downtown Toronto. And so it’s official: Planet Kensington, formerly the Greek’s, is finally gone for good.
The last owner, Greg Herrington, aka Citizen Greg, tells me: “We’re too small and we charge too little. We couldn’t cover the rent, let alone the taxes.”
Known for giving punk bands their first show, the tiny dive at 1971/2 Baldwin had an official capacity of only 28, but it didn’t take much to create a buzz when the joint found itself host to international heroes like the Chromags, the UK Subs or Millions of Dead Cops. Capacity calculations don’t usually anticipate patrons being stacked on top of each other.
“The best pit Toronto could imagine,” says Herrington.
Perhaps they looked scary to tourists, but the punks of the Planet were respected citizens in their neighbourhood. In the early 80s they came into this “old-man Greek place” for the cheap food and beer and were instantly accepted.
Steve Goof, frontman of Bunchofuckingoofs, recounts, “The Greek’s was open from 6 am to 1 am. We were always around, so people felt safe. If there was trouble down the street, the merchants came to us for help.”
The scene was always high on ideals and alcohol and down on the culture of hard drugs. The Greek’s was the home base for the 1988 anti-cocaine concert No Go For Blow, as well as campaign headquarters for Steve Goof’s two attempts at becoming a city alderman in 1985 and 89.
Citizen Greg himself is renovating the raw space to make it into a second location for Roncesvalles eatery the Freshwood Grill.
The new owners are promising to stay in step with the Market’s new trend, offering local, organic meats in fresh-baked wraps. They’ll even have delivery by bicycle.
Some echoes of Planet Kensington live on elsewhere in the ‘hood. The extremely popular Black Metal Brunch has moved down the street to Graffiti’s, and I hear some great shows are happening downstairs at the White Lily on Dundas.
“New floor tiles will go in last,” says Herrington. “I’ve been here 22 years and worked under five owners. I’m glad I got to do this work myself. The Bunchofuckingoofs were the first and last punk band to play here. I want to be the last one to walk out of this place.”