Salvador Darling
By YP Contributor

If Salvador Dali Owned a Bar

Salvador Darling is an unconventional nightspot in Parkdale. But then, how could a bar with the tagline “If Salvador Dali had a bar this is what it would look like” be anything else? With an assortment of risqué paintings, dismembered mannequins, graffiti-filled bathrooms and even a rocking horse, the décor is straight from the mind of an artist.

The space was originally a vintage boutique with a café until six years ago, when owner Tanya Grossi decided to change the Queen West space into a bar.

“The cool thing about the bar is that we don’t have a particular template,” says Tanya, “We cater to everyone.”

The atmosphere at Salvador Darling is captivating, with a wide variety of beats including hip-hop, funk and soul. But they do like to mix things up one day a week, as Tanya explains: “Friday nights, we do house music, sometimes dance music.”

This is like walking into a gallery — or a cool artist’s home. - Tanya Grossi, owner

Fashionista

Tanya is a fun-loving and social woman whose interests include travel, reading, yoga, cooking and kickboxing. She also boasts a particularly helpful experience that helped her design a bar with many special touches.

“My background is actually fashion,” admits Tanya, “I worked at Le Chateau for a number of years as a buyer for them.”

Just because she owns a bar doesn’t mean she’s entirely out of the fashion business, though. Tanya continues to do wardrobe styling for models doing their portfolio shoots, and she also acts as the creative director for photo shoots for events at Salvador Darling.

Tanya lives around the corner from Salvador Darling, and is very familiar with the neighbourhood. That’s how, a few years back, she noticed the dearth of smaller bars in the neighbourhood. “There weren’t any small lounge-type places,” explains Tanya. “When I had the café, I said ‘Why don’t I just get a liquor license and then I can hang out in my neighbourhood?’”

Tanya’s sister worked in the bar business, as did many of her friends. She recruited them into her operation and the rest is history. “I’m glad people came.” Tanya grins. “I thought it would just be me and a couple of my friends.”

Her bar’s decor and style aren’t the only unique things about the place, though; being a woman in the bar business has also raised eyebrows. Nonetheless, Tanya believes that what she’s doing is more than just a quirk. “For me here, it’s about celebrating and empowering women, and that’s also part of being a female bar owner.”

Tanya readily recalls a number of stories about unsuspecting patrons who assumed that the males working at the bar were the proprietors. Says Tanya, “If they didn’t know me, they just automatically assumed the guys were the owners.”

Therefore, it’s a point of personal pride for Tanya that Salvador Darling is owned by a woman.

SalvadorDarling - Queen West, drinks, music

Solo Artist

Tanya doesn’t have any partners involved in the bar, so she’s tasked with accounting, set-up, restocking and promotion.

“I have to consistently be on top of marketing,” says Tanya, “Because you can’t expect your friends and your regulars to come all the time.”

Finding new ways to be creative means the bar undergoes constant evolution. “I’ve changed the décor probably five times,” laughs Tanya. “There’s always adding to it and taking away.”

Close to Tanya’s heart is the artistic vision that Salvador Dali pursued because of how he looked at the world: “The surrealist movement was about taking things you don’t normally see and putting them in a different perspective.”

Thus, Salvador Darling is true to form — a bar that is erotic, dream-like and stimulating.

Or, as Tanya puts it: “This is like walking into a gallery — or a cool artist’s home.”

SalvadorDarling - Queen West, drinks, music
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