It’s fast becoming the pride of Parkdale, with its alt-country attitude and eclectic music policy. Welcoming such local bands as Be-Bop Cowboys, Trainwreck and Rancho Mysterio, it’s not, as you might expect, a dive. Nor is it some pretentious interloper sidling up un-bidden among the neighbourhood dollar stores and roti joints. Rather, recalling its namesake, the honky-tonk hideaway is a solid bar with half a car jutting out from the signage. Only slightly gussied up out back, with a gracious umbrella-dotted patio, the place is all caesar-and-wings ambience. Owned by the same folks who brought us Graffiti’s Bar & Grill in Kensington, the Caddy attracts a mix of music buffs and those who just like their beer cold. It’s the kind of watering hole that should become one of the west end’s old faithfuls.
Source: Toronto Life (Sept 2002)
he Cadillac Lounge: take a hyperactive neighbourhood bar, add a 4,000 square-foot patio, mix it with a dash of live entertainment, sprinkle heavily with curious downtowners (but go easy, as we dont want to ruin the taste), and then throw in virtually every thirsty neighourhood dweller you can possibly imagine (from the Parkdale art students to that bitchy spinster on heavy prescription meds).
While the lounge itself may sit in plain sight – with half a Cadillac as an overhead awning – the expanded patio hides out back, which means a gratifying walk through the bar. In that walk, one expects to see Elvis Impersonators ensconced in one of the faux-leopard armchairs of the lounge area, or perhaps guzzling pints of Amsterdam at the long bar. Smoky windows add a bit of light to the dark room, which is flanked by a bar at one end and a large stage at the other.
Once you’ve made your way through, you’ll see much change out back. When nightlife aficionado Sam Grosso (former owner of Graffiti’s Bar & Grill) opened his quirky Parkdale bar, a nicely-sized outdoor patio came with it. But it took the purchase of the building next door to bring new life (and square-footage) to the patio.
“I bought the building next door for its back yard,” says a beaming Grosso, gesturing over to what was previously the neighbour’s yard, now a vast addition to his patio. “I had been looking over at that unkempt brush for years, and when I heard that the building had come up for sale, I did everything in my power to get the property.”
The new addition has tripled the patio space, quickly earning it the dubious distinction, the Caddy Paddy. Comfortable seating with cushioned backs occupies much of the new area, with a service bar and raised level on the original.
While discolouration of the wooden planks indicates new from old, the whole package makes this patio a wet dream for party promoters: The ambitious Mars Bar collective, for example, hits the decks each Sunday, featuring on-the-rise local bands, like Toronto band Loomer.
The Cadillac Lounge is still the quintessential Parkdale misfit. Adding a patio that can attract up to 180 dwellers is a bonus, providing guests with a relaxing way to unwind and creating a nighttime escape for those just wanting a light bite along with their rockin’ beats. Performers change, but usually follow the same rocker format.
“It’s a hidden gem, says Mars Bar party promoter, Bryen Dunn. That patio, for example, is now Queen Street’s largest, and you’d never know there was any patio from the street.”
Just think of ’56 Kensington’ with a Springsteen flavour instead of a trance one and you’ll have some idea of the template that’s being followed here. But Cadillac Lounge is hardly a simple copy of anything, and Grosso’s implementation is happily different from the louder, attention-getting bars that have proliferated of late.
Upshot: In a world grown less civilized – war, parking tickets, road rage and bad song lyrics – there is more than mere physical comfort at the back of the Cadillac Lounge. – D.E.
1296 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario (Queen West Soho) Canada