George’s Play shuts its doors

Landlords wanted a quieter business, says owner

After denying for months rumours that George’s Play was about to close, the popular Church St nightspot was abruptly shuttered Sunday night. Some of its more popular events will continue across the street at Flash, but the closure adds another set of papered-over windows to the Church-Wellesley Village.

George Pratt, the owner of both clubs, says that Play isn’t being shut down because of financial troubles, but because he couldn’t come to an agreement with the bar’s landlord over renewing the club’s lease.

The landlords, who live directly above the bar, weren’t pleased with the amount of noise coming from Play and had wanted Pratt to close the bar nightly at midnight as part of the new lease. Pratt says that would have been unworkable for the popular bar, which had been on Church St for 10 years.

“They wanted no noise after midnight. That’s pretty hard in a gay bar,” Pratt says.

Pratt had been trying to get the landlords to soundproof the bar so the noise wouldn’t be an issue, but the landlords wouldn’t agree. Knowing that the bar’s 10-year lease would expire, Pratt took over the space once occupied by Bigliardi’s restaurant to open Flash as a backup plan.

“I’ve been going through this for three years now. The future was obviously not with them,” he says. “I was right: here we are at the end of May and we weren’t able to get a lease.”

Pratt says the monthly rent was $10,000 but the bar could easily afford it. Nevertheless, he has no immediate plans to reopen Play in a new space.

“At the present time we’re going to concentrate on operating Flash,” he says. “Certain aspects of Play have already been moved over to Flash. The bingo’s here already — has been for two months.”

Flash, which is normally considered a strip club, operates as a dance club on Fridays and Saturdays on its main floor, with strippers performing upstairs only.

Play’s former landlords could not be reached for comment before press time.

The closure is the latest in a stream of closed storefronts on Church St. Crepes closed earlier this month, Reither’s supermarket closed suddenly in March, and the Village Rainbow Café has been closed since January.

David Wooten, the manager of the Church-Wellesley Village BIA, says that the Village Rainbow is finally officially dead and that the property manager may have already found a new tenant to take over the space, but he could not give any more details.


Rob Salerno is a playwright and journalist whose writing has appeared in such publications as Vice, Advocate, NOW and OutTraveler.

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Culture, News, Nightlife, Toronto, Canada

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