Category Archives: writing spaces

Meet bar & kitchen: Jonny Nadler

10455125_10152368558619531_2304748398080098274_nComfort, honesty, and love. These are the words that Jonny Nadler believes in. They are his managing philosophy and they are what he gives every guest of bar & kitchen when they cross the threshold into his latest hospitality venture.

Jonny has built this philosophy over a lifetime in the food & beverage industry which started under the tutelage of his father who, from the time he was a child, showed Jonny the hard work necessary to build a successful business. Since those early days, Jonny has gone on to manage establishments first in Guelph and then in Toronto. His experience at the University of Guelph led to work with the Guelph Storm and the historic landmark, The Albion Hotel, the latter being a major point of pride and touchstone of his life and career.

Arriving in Toronto, Jonny notes his time at The Mill Street Brew Pub and El Catrin as highlights, both of which allowed him to build his brand and philosophy. In August of 2013, Jonny arrived at Game Day in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Toronto. In the year that passed, Jonny’s passion for hospitality shone, building relationships with customers that he wishes to carry through as he takes his thirst for growth and evolution to bar & kitchen.

Comfort, honesty, and love. “The food is very honest, the people are very warm and the drinks give you a lot of love,” he says with a smile and wistful glance, no doubt, towards the future.

With this philosophy Jonny welcomes you to bar & kitchen where the feeling of community is prevalent. The investment in people and building honest, full relationships with guests is something he prides himself on, where gratitude comes not in the form of a pat on the back, but in having a guest return for more comfort, honesty and love.

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Toronto’s Writing Spaces vol. 2: Monarch Tavern

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Where: 12 Clinton Street, Toronto, Ontario

When: A Thursday evening in late summer.

What I wrote: Blog posts and I edited two short plays.

Review: I was sitting at one of the tables across from the bar, which held a hard line of regulars at the time. One gentleman walked in and took the remaining stool at the wood and another said with pride, “all the dirt-bags are out tonight”, and it was then that I felt at home. Writing at the Monarch was pleasurable. It has a home-like feel with its close ceiling and almost rec-room like atmosphere. That is not to say it feels like a dank basement in the suburbs where Kevin Arnold tried to make-out with Winnie Cooper. Not at all. The Monarch is an institution in the Little Italy area of Toronto and for good reason. It fosters a comfortable and cozy feel and keeps with its namesake addendum of “tavern”.

Looking around the room I envisioned generations having passed through as The Monarch has been open since 1927. While being a pretty cool place to write, with inspiration on every stool and at every table, it could also be a setting for any number of scenes. From the classic “mobster dinner” scene to the setting of nervous first date where the ice is broken with a beer and a shot of bourbon followed by a game of pinball and a couple rounds of pool.  Inspiration surrounds you. When I was there the bar was a quarter filled with an eclectic mix of patrons. In addition to the regulars at the bar, there were what appeared to be university or college-aged kids and in between those tables was a couple in their 60’s enjoying a couple pints and sharing a veal sandwich from San Francesco’s (see below). The music was a melange of rock from all sub-genres and was played at a perfect volume to add some flavour but not distract.

If you are in it for the long haul I recommend bringing a fully-charged laptop battery as plugs are at a bit of a premium. There are two available at different tables and one behind the bar, but being as popular as it is the bar is usually the first space to occupied. And if the tables are taken then you are out of luck with respect to power. But, if you go at the right time, there should be no problems and the staff are very accommodating. The plug I used was poached from one of the speakers that is used for events such as open mics and karaoke so it had to be given back just before 10pm, a fate about which I had no complaints because I was ready to listen to the karaoke stars ply their trade.

Go and write here, but before you do, take in the room. Its “ghosts”, both imagined and literary, will tell you a story.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-2am; Sunday 4pm-2am

Food/Drink: I will refer you to their website below for the full list of taps and an intro to their more than 30 types of bourbon. The Monarch has been known to host some pretty awesome food trucks and food pop-ups that have gone on to become full-fledged restaurants, so if they are serving food in house you know it is going to be tasty. If not, feel free to bring up a sandwich, calzone, or slice from one of their two neighbours, Bitondo’s Pizzeria and/or San Francesco, or if you are lucky Amy the awesome bartender will have gone on a popcorn run to the nearby The Royal and have some to share.

A/C: Yes.

WiFi: Yes, just ask for the password.

Website: The Monarch Tavern


Toronto’s Writing Spaces vol. 1: “Hart House”

Welcome to my new weekly “column” about writing spaces in Toronto. It is my intention to profile places around the city where I have written and places where you too can write. It is an idea I have had for a while and I thought now is a better time than tomorrow to get started on this particular adventure through the city in an attempt to explore new writing spaces while also sharing my experiences with other writerly-types who “just can’t work at home.” I hope the journey will be as enjoyable for you as I know it will be for me. Without further ado, let us start with the place I have been writing for the last decade.

debates_content_imageWhere: 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, Ontario

When: This particular time was a summer evening, though I have also written here in the morning and afternoon and each has their benefits. Evening is generally less busy which means it is also more quiet. If you arrive early enough, say before 10am, you will find the same atmosphere. Between 11am and 6pm most classes are taking place and thus when the most students and faculty are milling around. This can be an issue with seating, which is why I enjoy either the early morning or evening hours.

I wrote: Blog posts

Inspiration: I come to write at Hart House with inspiration already in check as it is my default office away from home. If you are looking for inspiration you can find it in the Gothic architecture, the sprawling nature of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus and the student life that surrounds you.

Review: Hart House, being a student centre, is busier during the autumn and winter months, though there is still a spattering of patrons in the summer months. My favourite place to write is the small library on the second floor at the west side of the building. They are currently doing renovations but the design is Gothic and it would take more than the month they have allotted to make any major changes to this. What I enjoy the most is the silence of the space and its comfort. If you can wrestle part of a couch away from a napper I find they – the couches – are ideal. The window wells also offer comfort, though the radiators underneath can really belt out the warmth and it can get pretty toasty if you get too close.

In addition to the library, my other favourite spot is the large table in the second floor vestibule near the Gallery Grill. It is great for group writing sessions, but also for solo ventures. And because of the size of the table – think a 4ft. by 4ft. square – you have enough space to set-up a comfortable working space and have all your notes strewn about in whatever manner you desire.

All of the writing space at Hart House is public, with no private rooms for rent so I would say it is best for the actual task of writing. Some rooms are more social and do allow for conversation, but I have mostly come here solo and so have no need for conversing in any way but with my fingers tapping a keyboard.

With respect to outside space, there is a patio on the south side of the building that is more or less connected with the Arbor Room, a cafeteria, that is located in the basement. I would recommend coming with a full laptop battery and sunglasses if you desire to sit outside, though I can’t speak to this specifically because I always find myself wandering inside. Another outside space is the courtyard in the centre of the building. It is quieter and more serene but seating is scarce and because Hart House is also an event space for weddings and conferences, the courtyard space is usually being used for such things. If you want to write in a better “courtyard/atrium” type space, walk the literal 30 seconds next door to the University College building and make your way to its interior. I enjoy this outdoor space more than the one at Hart House.

Hours: 7am to Midnight, literally everyday

Food/Drink: Arbor Room cafeteria; Gallery Grill; Vending Machines

WiFi: Yes, but it is only available to students.

A/C: No.

Website: Hart House


My Writing Space

It’s kind of messy but I know where everything is. What about you?


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