The Central
By Terra Borody

A Massive House Party

The Central, aptly named, is located in the middle of the Bloor West nightlife scene. Once a well-loved jazz hub, the bar has undergone some big changes since it first opened back in 2007. Following a dramatic transformation courtesy the reality show Restaurant Makeover, the resto-bar is now co-owned by brothers Clement and Lucan Wai and managed by Evan Desmarais.

The moody neighbourhood haunt is situated in a multi-levelled townhouse tucked away behind the iconic Honest Ed’s department store. The ground floor features a lounge and stage area and one of the largest outdoor patios on the block. The upstairs is a more intimate event space for readings and screenings, complete with a foosball table and an enclosed balcony patio.

“I like to think of this place as a house,” says Evan. “We want people to feel welcome, like they’re at a big house party.” Thanks to its proximity to Toronto’s large universities and the unusually fair menu prices, The Central attracts a steady crowd of local students and twenty-somethings.

We want people to feel welcome, like they’re at a big house party. - Evan Desmarais, manager
The Central - Draft Beer, Chicken Wings, Bacon

If You’re Looking for Some Laughs…

Between managing, bartending and producing live shows, Evan has been with The Central for five years. And as a stand-up comedian, he’s always game for a laugh. When he first joined the staff he created his own weekly comedy show called “I Heart Jokes” as a platform for local comics. The bar was also home to the collaborative format show Strip Comedy.

At that time, Evan says, “The Central was one of the best bars to do comedy in the city.” He continues to produce shows for both The Central and its sister bar The Smiling Buddha.

The Central - Draft Beer, Chicken Wings, Bacon

Beats, Brews and Bacon

“There’s a long history of supporting the arts community here,” Evan says. The event schedule is packed with weekly live music, DJs, Monday and Tuesday night comedy, and poetry jams. The Central occasionally collaborates with The Beguiling, a comic shop next door, to host readings, signings, speeches and book launches.

In addition to their regular events, The Central offers a number of guilty pleasures on the menu. The bar boasts a solid selection of tap beers with fun names like Naughty Neighbour and the house brew Cause and Affect. Hungry patrons pair their pints with typical pub fare alongside some decadent options like the deep fried mars bar and the bar’s signature appetizer: a basket of house-smoked bacon.

Now where else in the city can you order a basket of bacon?

The Central - Draft Beer, Chicken Wings, Bacon
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