Restaurant / Night
Club / Pool Hall
A landmark hot spot on Queen St. West in
downtown Toronto, the Rivoli is an ever evolving destination.
The busy Restaurant serves eclectic global comfort food; at
the intimate Side Bar, patrons cozy up to enjoy cocktails and
great music; the Pool Hall upstairs offers vintage tables,
full menu and comfy booths; the best people watching in town
goes down on the Patio, while the Rivoli's Back room features some of the finest programming in the city from alternative
live Music to to it's seminal Comedy and spoken-word events.
Serving up great food and art since 1982, the Rivoli is
a popular restaurant and night club on Queen St. West in downtown Toronto, located in the the original Rivoli Theatre, home
of 1920's vaudeville and burlesque. In the '80s, the Rivoli was
synonymous with Toronto's black-garbed Queen West scene (Mike
Myers's Saturday Night Live German club character Dieter is said to have been inspired by a Riv waiter). This
reputation has changed as much as the club's clientele, but the
Riv's atmosphere is still unique. Bare Naked Ladies, Molly
Junkies, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Blue Rodeo, The Kids in the Hall, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry, Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer, Sean Cullen, Handsome Ned, Hawksley Workman, and so many more talented Canadian artists
have started their careers and/or graced the stage - some like Feist even worked the bar at one point. International
stars like Adele, Beck, Indigo Girls, Iggy Pop, Janeane Garofalo, Josh Ritter, Patty Smyth, Courtney Love, Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer, Michelle Shocked, Robin Williams and others have also performed
at the Riv. You just never know who will turn up, so please check
our listings for upcoming events.
M. Anklewicz In conversation with Andre Rosenbaum, co-owner
of renowned venue and restaurant The Rivoli and The
Queen Mother Café in Toronto: Courtesy
of Being There Magazine
did The Rivoli start?
The Rivoli got started because we lived and worked in the Queen
West area. [Our other restaurant,] The
Queen Mother Café, down the street had been opened
in 1978. David [Stearn] and I lived in apartments above that restaurant,
and many of our staff and friends were artists who lived in the
area. The whole street catered to the artist class, it was cheap
and funky. The building which houses The Rivoli was the Trotskyite
Communist Centre of Toronto. It skipped to being a high end
and short lived restaurant and dinner club called Soho at the
Metz. When [David and I] got wind that Soho had failed, we decided
to go for it. We had a vision of a neighborhood restaurant and club.
We thought it would be an excellent venue for our friends and neighbors.
We knew the restaurant business and felt that if The Rivoli dining
room was successful, we could tolerate a very liberal and open booking
policy for the club. Sometimes it is the tail that wags the dog,
and it is the club that has often given the enterprise its profile.
What would be your proudest moment operating
There are a few proud moments. The first one is when, in our first
year of operation, 1982, the English group Durutti
Column was booked into the space by the "Garys"
(the top promoters of the 80s). We had our first line up down the
street. [The second is] every time a local Queen Street artist performed
who shortly thereafter went on to some success, such as Molly
Johnson, The Cowboy
Margaret O'Hara, Blue Rodeo, The Kids in the Hall and many more.
What makes The Rivoli stand out from other
venues in Toronto?
The Rivoli is a great intimate room. It is a perfect showcase room.
It has excellent site lines and sound system. It makes me think
of the jazz "boites" of Paris in the '30s and '40s. Financially,
we rely on the other segments of the operation (the dining room,
side bar, patio and pool hall). Because of this we can take greater
risks and have an extremely broad booking policy. It is definitely the place to get started in Toronto and
the place to connect in a very direct way with your audience.
logo for the Rivoli sign is Mary Margaret O'Hara's artwork.
Rodeo's first gig was at the Riv? The now famous ad was: "If
you`ve dropped acid at least 20 times, lost 3 or 4 years to booze
and looking good and can still manage to keep time, call Jim or
Greg." Keelor brought Bobby Wiseman (keyboards), drummer Cleave
brought along his friend Bazil Donovan to the next rehearsal, and
the band was complete. They debuted in Feburary of 1985 at the Rivoli
you have some bonafide Rivoli Trivia? please
send it in