The Rivoli

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Event Stage.jpg
Location334 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates43°38′57″N 79°23′42″W / 43.649276°N 79.394914°W / 43.649276; -79.394914Coordinates: 43°38′57″N 79°23′42″W / 43.649276°N 79.394914°W / 43.649276; -79.394914
OwnerJohn Christensen
TypeLive Music Venue Nightclub Pool Hall Restaurant
Genre(s)Alternative, Indie
Capacity200 Pool Hall, 200 Back Room, 70 Dining Room
Rivoli Toronto [1]

The Rivoli is a bar, restaurant and performance space, established in 1982, on Queen Street West in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The club originally earned a reputation as one of Canada's hippest music clubs,[1] and many major Canadian comedy and musical performers have played on its stage, including The Kids in the Hall, Gordon Downie, The Frantics, Sean Cullen and the infamous Dark Shows. The Drowsy Chaperone premiered at the Rivoli and went on to subsequent productions and eventually a highly successful run on Broadway.


Established and owned by Andre Rosenbaum, David Stearn, and Jeff Strasburg,[2] in the 1980s, the Rivoli was synonymous with Toronto's black-garbed Queen West scene (Mike Myers' Saturday Night Live German club character Dieter was inspired by a Rivoli waiter)[citation needed]. This reputation waned as the club's clientele became more eclectic and upscale, but the Rivoli's atmosphere is still unique.[citation needed] Talent scouts for Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival and the major television networks still routinely troll the Monday night comedy shows.[citation needed]

From 1987 to 1990 the Journal of Wild Culture held its regular avant-garde vaudeville nights, the Café of Wild Culture, featuring a mix of artists exploring the magazine's ecology and imagination mandate.[3] Since the 1990s the Rivoli has been home to The ALTdot COMedy Lounge, Toronto's most popular alternative comedy show[citation needed].

In 2014, the original owners sold the business to Jenna Wood, Sarah Henning, and Jessica McHardy.[2] Henning left the venture in early 2020; several months later amid the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining partners Wood and McHardy listed the business for sale for Can$500,000.[4]

Venue Layout[edit]

The venue is divided into three main areas, the front, the upstairs and the back. The front of the venue has a bar along most of its west wall. The east side of the front room, separated from the bar by a dividing wall, are tables for dining. Upstairs there is a pool hall with 11 vintage and antique tables. The space is large and sometimes dance nights or private parties are hosted there. The back room of the venue contains a stage at the back. There is a smaller bar in the back room, and some bar seating along the side walls. The audience area is sometimes open for standing room, sometimes tables and chairs are set up, and sometimes chairs are set up in rows. Seating is rarely assigned or reserved. Patrons are typically free to eat or drink in the front room without paying for admission to shows. The Rivoli's menu is known for an eclectic and upscale motif.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Griffin, John (May 2, 1985). "Hit album makes a believer of Gowan". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. p. B4. "[...] Gowan, who, on the phone anyway, seems more the affable hockey-and-beer type than a denizen of such desperately hip clubs as Montreal's Beat and Toronto's Rivoli."
  2. ^ a b Ritchie, Kevin (8 June 2016). "Rivoli Redux: fresh touches come to the Queen West venue". Now. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  3. ^ Lypchuk, Donna (March 30, 1989). "Mock on the Wild Side". Metropolis.
  4. ^ Trapunski, Richard (7 July 2020). "The Rivoli is for sale". Now. Retrieved 14 October 2020.

External links[edit]