Controversial new ‘social bar’ on Ossington applies for liquor licence

A new business on the Ossington strip, dubbed a social bar, that garnered significant interest and criticism from the local community, which took over from a long-standing Home Hardware store that shut down in 2021, is getting closer to opening.

IDK Social Bar, self-declared as “Toronto’s first social bar”, is under construction at 172 Ossington Ave., but a Facebook post from last month shows that the owner recently applied for a liquor license. The application notice states that formal objections can be made through the iAGCO (the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s online service delivery) portal prior to July 18—something that some local residents are encouraging others to do.

“Idk social has applied for their liquor license…their bylaw amendments were opposed 6+ to 1 at the COA [Committee of Adjustment], yet was approved. facetiously – “idk” there’s much hope opposing the application since it seems the agco is geared toward granting any and all …” Edmund Law, a local resident concerned about the issue, wrote in a Facebook post on June 22, alongside a picture of the liquor license application. “btw and honestly – i encourage anyone who objects to this license to do so …”

The two-level 3200-square-foot space will include a restaurant serving high-end Asian food on the first level and feature a private gathering space on the second floor — this has been the subject of concern among local residents who are worried that it will be more of a nightclub than a restaurant, which would inevitably bring about noise and crowds.

“The notion of expanding bars and nightclubs to the second floor and above on Ossington is not permitted under the bylaw, which is one of the reasons this went to the Committee of Adjustment,” Jennifer Horvath, of the Ossington Community Association, said in March.

Jennifer Horvath, of Ossington Community Association, speaking out against social bar
Jennifer Horvath, Ossington Community Association

Gordon Chau, the owner of IDK, stated on the Ossington Community Association Facebook page last month that he was “super excited” to present the bar’s new concept, which focuses on “socializing”.

“Just for clarification, this is not a noisy / loud style of business, in fact the opposite, hence the name is “Social Bar”, designed for like minded individuals to network and connect while having food/ drinks and interactive games,” he commented in a post. In another comment, he clarified that the second floor will function “as a regular speakeasy bar” where guests can comfortably sit and enjoy decent conversations.

“Our team is committed to operating our small business with utmost respect for the neighborhood and community,” he added.

Chau held other information sessions on June 26/27, revealing more details about the bar’s business model, operation details, public concerns, and a timeline of their progress.

Although some community members are now stating they will give the bar a chance because they believe the owners have been “transparent and engaging”, others will submit their objections.

“The Ossington Community Assoc. will submit an objection,” the Association stated in a Facebook comment last month. “Not because we assume that IDK will be a bad neighbour but because we believe the COA decision was flawed. City by-laws prohibit 2nd floor restaurants so that neighbouring residents are not unduly disturbed. On adjudicator made this point clearly., but the other two ignored this inconvenient truth. We will object on this basis. IF o[t]hers in the community have issues please file.”

The space next door to IDK is also under construction with a new restaurant by David Schwartz of MIMI and Sunny’s restaurants slated to occupy the space.

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