‘International destination’ beer bar coming to Toronto’s Little Italy

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Tomas and Julian Morana, two brothers whose family is behind Bar Volo, Cask Days, and–through their import business Keep6Imports–a large chunk of the cool import beers you can find in better Toronto restaurants and bars, have confirmed that they are opening a new bar.

As Toronto Life pointed out yesterday (damn you for scooping me! *shakes fist*) the location of the long-rumoured “second Morana family bar” has finally been revealed as Little Italy. Specifically, the bar will be at 612 College Street in the former home of Souz Dal Tiki Bar next to The Royal Cinema.

I spoke with Tomas Morana and he filled me in on some details.

“It’s a pretty cool opportunity for us,” he told me. Essentially, The Royal is expanding their reach–incorporating a film festival and hosting Just For Laughs events–and the inclusion of an interesting bar right next door will be in keeping with The Royal’s desire to update their concept.

Brandon Olsen from Bar Isabel and Bar Raval (and this year’s Cask Days) is currently doing a pop-up shop for his amazing fried chicken in the space directly adjacent to 612 College and while his commitment is only for a couple more weeks, it’s probably not out of the question to think something permanent from “Brando’s Fried Chicken” might find a home next door to the forthcoming bar and something of a revitalization of the area might be in the works.

And as for the bar that in my opinion will lead the charge of any such revitalization, you can probably leave some of your preconceived notions at the door. “This is not going to be Bar Volo 2,” Morana tells me.

Instead, it’s going to be a unique beer bar with some rather ambitious aims. Led by Tomas and Julian (this time around not in cahoots with their father Ralph as they are at Volo), the new spot will feature a beer menu unlike anything else currently available in Toronto. “We want to serve all the best lambic beers. We want all the best sour beers in the world,” Morana tells me. “We want the space to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone,” Morana tells me, “but this bar will be focused on beers that are barrel-aged, sour, or farmhouse-style, with a bit more emphasis on imports.”

Morana tells me that those imports will hopefully be from brands he and his brother currently represent through Keep6Imports. “I’m going to bring in beers you can’t get anywhere else in Canada and I hope to have a bar that can compete on an international level in terms of the best beer bars.” Given that he name-dropped CantillonTre FontaneLa Brasserie de la Senne, Jester King and others in our short conversation about breweries he hopes to have on tap, it seems like he and his brother might just garner some international attention if they pull this off.

But locavores, don’t fret. Morana says he hopes that the draught list will also include collaborations with Ontario breweries who will make beer specifically for the bar, with a focus on beer blends in the lambic, sour, or saison categories. In fact, he hopes blended beers will be a large part of the line-up.  “I think beyond the concept of sours and beyond the concept of barrel-aging, the art of brewing seems to be headed more towards blending to find that perfect recipe and I think that’s really interesting.”

Morana tells me that the bar will mostly offer draught beer with a small bottle selection and a small food menu “inspired by Italy and Spain.”

Presumably the as-yet-unnamed bar will be an ideal place to grab a beer before and after taking in a movie at The Royal, and while Morana didn’t want to comment on the prospect just yet, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that the bar might one day be providing beer to people while they take in a movie as well.

The space has a capacity of just 55, with an eight-person front patio and a 60-person back patio and, while Morana was hesitant to offer any concrete timelines, I’d say you should keep an eye on that space for a soft open in Spring of 2016.

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