In the Beginning
Back in 2000, Parkdale would be unrecognizable to the current population. Now we know Parkdale to be a neighborhood abundant with families, artists, professionals and entrepreneur’s. Its very nature of being a catch-all basin of diversity, creativity, mixed with the hard working and disparate alike is what makes Parkdale such a unique and welcoming community. However, when Sam Grosso first took possession of the building and bar once known as Links who brandished their motto “we have colour TV’s” with pride, this now thriving neighborhood was far from what we know it to be today. In many ways it truly was the wild west. Few restaurants graced the stretch between Dufferin and Roncesvailles other than a few staples.
At the time, Sam had owned a tiny live music venue and bar in the ever popular Kensington Market. Graffiti’s was a hub for Torontonians looking for a laid back out of the way place where music appreciation and tight community to the place of the ever-popular pastime of people watching and being-seen of the Queen West crowd just to the south. Sam’s tenacity and fearlessness in business coupled with his innate ease in relating to people of all cultures and backgrounds quickly made Graffiti’s a place to be. One would come to know that Sam would be behind the bar serving up great drinks or serving up the famous Graffiti’s rice balls his mother and aunt were making in the open kitchen for all the guests to see. Bands loved playing in the tiny space allocated as the “stage” providing no more than 14 square feet of performance space, coming as it were literally face to face with patrons. Staple bands included local names such as the Kensington Hillbillies, The Rank Strangers, Kevin Quain, John Borra Band and many others. It was immediate gratification that turned into a sense of belonging. Knowing Sam would be there 7 days a week, remembering exactly who you were and ready to welcome you back ensured a loyal clientele.
By 2000 Sam was ready for a new adventure, and while still running Graffiti’s he turned his attention west to the little lauded stretch of Queen Street west of the Dufferin tracks. The Cadillac Lounge was born of the same love of live music that brought about the bands of Graffiti’s but with slightly more room to accommodate larger bands, and the ability to seat more than 40 people, Sam felt he’d landed on something great. Few businesses were offering services in the neighborhood at the time that would bring non-Parkdalians past the bridge other than a few spirited and visionary establishments such as The Rhino, Made You Look and the Stone’s Place.
The Caddy is Born
From the start the Cadillac Lounge was more than just a bar. Open 7 days a week, from morning till night, the Caddy is at once a restaurant, a gathering place, a bar, a live music venue, a host to community functions, and fundraisers. Nearly every major life milestone has at one point been celebrated within these leopard print walls. Sam has, in times of great shift and evolution of consumer interest and palate stayed true to his original vision for the Cadillac Lounge. If asked what that vision is, Sam would describe it as “a place where you could imagine Johnny Cash and Dean Martin saddled up at the bar while Hank Williams echoes from the speakers. It’s a bastion of Rockabilly, Honky Tonk, Country, Americana, Motown and Funk. It’s the neighbourhood bar that’s open for lunch and you can be sure the food is made fresh, delicious and reasonably priced. Where the servers probably live around the block and have frequented the patio more than a few times before and after being employed here. It’s the kind of place you may well find toddlers dancing to a live band during brunch while their parents happily munch of Huevos Ranchero’s and a local craft brew. More than a few summer nights have seen wedding hosted on the patio, Birthdays christenings, wakes and memorials bringing family and friends together to celebrate or seek comfort. The Cadillac and ultimately Sam’s connection with the community ensures that many local fundraisers have successfully taken place at the Cadillac as well as Sam’s own annual fundraiser benefiting the Diabetes Clinic and Families at SickKids Hospital.
Ten years after the Caddy first opened its doors, it doubled its interior space by expanding to the east and providing not only more interior seating and beautiful wrap around bar, but balanced out the ever-popular patio with its capacity of 250 people. With a total inside/outside capacity of 410, the Cadillac is the venue of choice for corporate events, weddings, and all variety of gatherings. Boasting full AV capabilities with 13 televisions, and a full sound system, Sam ensures personally that each and every event runs smoothly and meets guests expectations. This characteristic hands-on approach to business and community engenders a sense of confidence in the Cadillac clientele. Knowing Sam has his guests happiness as his highest priority enables guests that rare confidence that they truly make the Cadillac Lounge the place it is.
Our customer base is geared towards families young mature adults to seniors that love to a have great afternoon dancing to thier favourite songs of yester year.
Nearly 17 years have gone by and the Cadillac Lounge is staying true to its original visions and bucks the trends that come and go. Sam’s philosphy is treat customers old & new with a smile & great product & service.
Iconic Live Music Acts
The Cadillac Lounge has hosted many bands & performers such as Blue Rodeo, Wanda Jackson, Burton Cummings, Daniel Lanois, Janis Martin, Pete Anderson, Fred Eaglesmith, Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding, The Be-Bop Cowboys, The Midnight Ramblers, The Blushing Brides, The Neil Youngs’uns, and many more!
Content Coming Soon!
The Cadillac Lounge is, not just the home of great music and entertainment, but you never know who will stop by or who will be playing on any-given-night. Check out the Caddy Wall of Fame with photos through the years of celebrities and artists who have graced our stage and found a home at the bar!