The Green Room, an Annex staple, shut its doors on Sunday, October 29 in anticipation of a move to a new location on College Street.
Located off a back alley behind Bloor Street, between Brunswick Avenue and Borden Street at the top of David French Lane, the Green Room has served students and other Annex residents for a generation. I first heard of the bar when I was in high school. Perhaps unbeknownst to many, there was also a pretty sturdy menu at the establishment and it was a good hangout spot and café during the day.
The Green Room holds a special, if sometimes hazy, place in many students’ hearts. Laith Goldie, a second-year student at UTSG, has been banned “multiple times.”
Some of this drunken revelry could be attributed to the Green Room’s cheap drinks and a last call that acts as a beacon to those at surrounding spots like Dance Cave. As 2:00 am rolled around, things could get exceedingly lubricated between the two floors — with two bars! — and the patio.
“I saw a lad in the stall passed out on the shitter with yack all over himself,” said Jaiden Hyland, a second-year UTSC student. “Great times.”
While the Green Room won’t be going away permanently, the loss of its location seems to be a huge hit to many. “I love how secluded and hidden it is,” said Sarah Armoogam, a fourth-year UTSG student. “I’m thinking the move will change that.” Armoogam added that she knows she won’t go to the new location as much.
“The old location was such a selling point,” said Simona Newman, a third-year UTSG student, “and to an extent was the Green Room.”
The new location for the bar will be on the north side of College, east of Bathurst Street, where the Crown and Tiger was previously. Newman used to work at the Crown and Tiger, a bar where, she said, “the clientele was primarily drifters, convicted felons, under-age kids, and patrons who clearly had substance abuse and alcohol abuse issues.”
Newman described violent fights resulting in serious injuries as a regular occurrence. This sort of activity is a far cry from the peaceful, if sedate, action of the Green Room, where the most violent occurrence was probably someone being escorted out by its affable doorman.
Concerns about the Crown’s clientele carrying over to the new Green Room seem justified. Drifters and felons were not a part of the back alley location’s aesthetic. Newman says that she doesn’t think that the Crown’s regulars “can even be bothered to find out that there is a new bar and ownership so long as they can continue ordering cheap pitchers without getting cut off by bartenders.”
On Thursday, my last night in the back-alley bar, I asked one of the staff if he was concerned about the Crown’s patrons. “We’ll figure it out,” he said. Maybe it was the whisky, but his attitude and the comfort of those famous couches I was sitting on seemed to assure me.
It was the purchase of the building that housed the Green Room that forced its move. According to the staff, it will be turned into a boutique hotel. The irony of luxury in a space so known for its comfortable grubbiness is not lost, and it seems a poignant addition to a list of now-defunct establishments like the Brunny — now a Rexall — and Honest Ed’s, soon to be turned to rentals and retail spaces. At the risk of NIMBYism, I’m a little pissed.