The Ward could soon be home to the smallest bar in the country

A former auto shop in The Ward may soon be the newest – and smallest – place to grab a drink in the city.

An application for a liquor license has been filed for 60 Ontario Street to open an establishment called Standing Room Only. It is currently in the public comment phase.

If all goes as planned, it could potentially become the smallest bar in Canada.

So small, only 12 people will be allowed inside at a time.

“There’s a bar in Quebec that’s a few feet smaller,” said Doug Todd, co-owner of the property.

“But it’s attached to a nightclub, so I don’t know if that even constitutes its own smaller bar.”

With such a small development, Todd isn’t sure the place is financially viable. But he and his partner Mike Watt try their luck.

“It’s really cheap to set it up,” Todd said. “We want to do something fun for the community. We don’t want it to become a loud, crazy thing. It’ll just be a quiet place for people to come.”

Part of the plan is to install “the smallest dance floor in the world and make it a warm, fun and unique place”.

He repeated several times that Standing Room Only would not be a place where people would “come and get hammered”.

“If you’re looking to get hammered, go downtown,” Todd said. “You want to come to our house for a quick little warm-up, by all means, the door is open.”

The plan is to make it a cocktail-style bar, with beer also being part of the selection.

As for the appearance of the building, the yellow coloring will disappear. Todd said he knows some people like yellow, but wants to find something neutral to make things warm and unique.

“You’re going to see a massive facelift happen in the next two weeks,” Todd said. “We have plans, change the color of the building, clean it up. Let’s not make such an eyesore of it.”

So how was the idea received?

“It was well received,” Todd said. “People thought it was a brilliant idea, they like the idea about it, and they actually kind of encouraged us to do it.”

In May 2021, an adjustment committee approved a request to convert the building into three small businesses: a café, a hair salon and a convenience store.

Lalani Jennings Contemporary Art will open in a separate unit in the same building on June 25.

There were parking-related concerns brought forward by residents at this meeting, but committee member David Gundrum dismissed them, saying the area is “a very mature, walkable neighborhood.”

“Most customers… will be local residents who won’t be driving,” he said last year.

Development of the cafe is still ongoing, while the bar would occupy the space originally planned for the hair salon and convenience store.

Watt doesn’t foresee any issues with the change to the initial plans, but said he was ready to come back to the fit committee, if needed.

About James K. Bonnette

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