The first time I went to Bar Volo was like entering a whole new world.
Obviously I had been to bars before and had even been in quite a few that had extensive draught lists, but I had never before stepped foot in a place that so clearly and so passionately embraced craft beer as an ethos.
With the extensive list of beers I’d mostly never before heard of scrawled on a chalkboard, ordering at Volo initially felt complicated and a little intimidating.
Of course it wasn’t really and, after ordering a few rounds, I felt like an old pro. So much so that, like everyone else who visits, I couldn’t wait to come back to introduce the place to a beer-loving friend so that I could explain how the place worked like a veteran, share a flight, and likely experience something new again.
Sadly, the ability to share the experience that is Bar Volo will soon be coming to an end.
I’ve confirmed that the Morana family, the owners of Bar Volo, have received six month’s notice from their landlord and, after 28 years, will be leaving the space at 587 Yonge by the end of September.
Last month Toronto City council approved a 44-storey tower proposed by Cresford Capital Corporation for the east side of Yonge between Dundonald and Gloucester streets. Volo, and its neigbours, will be replaced with 528 residential units, 232 parking spaces, and the ubiquitous condo retail and commercial units.
Tomas Morana told me via email that the family is “working on another location for Bar Volo in the area but nothing is confirmed at this time.” He also let me know that right now he is focused on opening their new project at 612 College which he reiterated is a wholly different concept and not intended to be a replacement for Bar Volo.
Ralph Morana and his family have owned and operated Bar Volo on Yonge Street since 1988. At its inception, Volo was an Italian restaurant with a great wine list (people still reminisce fondly of Ralph Morana’s carbonara). Over time, Ralph and his sons Julian and Tomas converted the place into one of Canada’s best known craft beer bars. So much so that, for the last couple years, Bar Volo has been one of only 56 locations across 17 countries chosen by Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels to host Zwanze Day, a worldwide celebratory release of a limited one-off lambic beer that the participating bars serve simultaneously at 3:00pm on one day only.
Bar Volo was home to many of my craft beer “firsts.” I had my first beer from Dieu Du Ciel! there, for example (Rosée d’Hibiscus, incidentally, not Peche Mortel as you might have guessed). And I also had my first sour beer there (I’m not sure what that one was, but I’m 90% sure Iain McOustra brewed it).
And of course, I met many of the fantastic people in Ontario’s craft beer scene for the first time in the cozy confines of 587 Yonge. September will truly mark the end of an era for a lot of Craft beer fans.
And if you’ve never been, you’ve got just five months to correct that oversight.
For those of you that have been, what’s your fondest Bar Volo memory?