Toad's Place

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Toad's Place
Location300 York St # 1
New Haven, Connecticut
OwnerBrian Phelps
Exterior of Toad's Place in New Haven, 2009

Toad's Place is a concert venue and nightclub located in New Haven, Connecticut.


The building, located on York Street down the street from Ashley's Ice Cream and Blue State Coffee and across an alley from Mory's Temple Bar, was the original location of the Yale Co-op. During the 1960s, it was a popular restaurant called Hungry Charlie's and then the location of Caleb's Tavern. In 1974, Michael Spoerndle, formerly a student at the Culinary Institute of America, rented the building for a French and Italian restaurant, which opened in March 1975. He named it Toad's Place, after a childhood joke. He said, "When my parents were going out to dinner, they would tell me they were going to such-and-such, and I thought it would be funny if they said, 'We're going to Toad's Place.' Plus, people who didn't go out and stayed at home, we'd call them 'toads.' It was the equivalent of a couch potato."[1] In 1976, Spoerndle turned the restaurant into a live music venue,[2] working with a local musician named Peter Menta to bring in bands. Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Koko Taylor were some of the first performers.[1] In 1976, Brian Phelps joined as manager and eventually co-owner. Phelps took control in 1995, after Spoerndle's numerous problems with alcohol and drug addiction.[2] Spoerndle died on May 6, 2011.[3][4]

In 1983, a second location opened in Waterbury, Connecticut, although it lasted only three years. In 2007, a franchise location in Richmond, Virginia opened with a concert by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. It included a restaurant and club for up to 1,500 visitors.[5] The principal owner was Charles Joyner, a local physician who was a disc jockey at Toad's Place while he was a Yale undergraduate in the 1980s. On 9 March 2009, Toad's Place Richmond was closed.[6] All scheduled shows were canceled and/or moved to The National, another venue in Richmond. A third location was planned for Trenton, New Jersey.[7]

Jeff Lorber, a jazz keyboardist, included an instrumental piece called Toad's Place on his album Water Sign.[7] Through mutual friends, singer Rob Zombie met future wife, actress Sheri Moon, at Toad's in 1989. They married on Halloween of 2002.

Notable concerts[edit]

A long wall inside the venue the names of the many famous artists to have played there
Date Band Notes
July 10, 1980 Billy Joel Billy Joel recorded the song "Los Angelenos" from his album Songs in the Attic at Toad's Place.
December 14, 1980 U2 U2 played during the second leg of the Boy tour. This was only their eighth tour date in North America.
May 27, 1981 U2 U2 played during the fourth leg of the Boy tour. This was their first public performance of the song Fire.[8]
November 15, 1981 U2 U2 played during the second leg of the October tour.
February 13, 1989 Dream Theater According to the "I Can Remember When" documentary taken from the When Dream and Day Reunite bootleg, Dream Theater played there during the When Dream and Day Unite tour.[9]
April 24-5, 1989 Cyndi Lauper The April 24 concert was the second one on the A Night to Remember tour. Earlier that evening, Brian Phelps (owner of Toad's Place) took Cyndi Lauper to dinner at Mory's Temple Bar, where the Whiffenpoofs serenaded her with an a capella performance of her song Time After Time. She invited them to join her onstage the next day.[10]
August 12, 1989 The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones played a surprise hour-long concert for 700 people at Toad's Place. They had been rehearsing for the Steel Wheels tour for six weeks at the Wykeham Rise School, a girls' school in Washington, Connecticut that had closed earlier that year, and performed the concert as "a thank-you to Connecticut for the hospitality."[11]
January 12, 1990 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan started a tour with a Toad's Place performance including four sets that lasted over five hours, his longest show to date. It was his first club performance in 25 years.[1]
January 24, 2002 Slayer Original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo performs with the group for the first time since 1992.
March 17, 2005 Black Crowes The concert was called "Mr. Crowes Garden" and was one of five tour dates at small Northeastern clubs. The concerts were intended as a warm-up for their 2005 tour, after not having toured for almost four years.[12]

Incidents with under-age drinking[edit]

In September 2002, Toad's Place was fined $25,000 and closed for a week after underage drinkers were found on the premises. In May 2007, it closed for ninety days, after a November 5, 2005 inspection by the state Liquor Control Commission found 142 underage drinkers were present. The owner paid a fine of $90,000 in addition to the ninety-day closure. It reopened on August 4, 2007 with a concert by Badfish, a Sublime tribute band.[13]


  1. ^ a b c Fried, Fran, "Twenty years of rock 'n' roll: Toad's Place hits milestone", New Haven Register, January 1, 1995, page A1
  2. ^ a b Ball, Molly, "After swerving off-course, a grab for the wheel", Yale Herald, September 29, 2000
  3. ^
  4. ^ McCready, Brian (8 May 2011). "Toad's Place founder dies, brought legends to New Haven". New Haven Register. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  5. ^ Neman, Daniel, "Toad's Place opens on a smooth note", Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 22, 2007, page B3
  6. ^ Peters, Mitchell, "Toad's Place In Richmond To Close?", Billboard.Biz, March 10, 2009
  7. ^ a b Verel, Patrick, "For a Hopping Club, The Beat Goes Onward", New York Times, November 19, 2006
  8. ^ de la Parra, Pimm Jal, U2 Live: A Concert Documentary, Omnibus Press, 2003, page 23
  9. ^
  10. ^ Benninghoff, Eric (16 February 2018). "The Toad Keeps Hopping after 43 Years". The Yale Daily News. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Rolling Stones' Surprise For Fans in New Haven", New York Times, August 14, 1989.
  12. ^ Rothman, Robin A, "Black Crowes Heat Up", Rolling Stone, March 21, 2005
  13. ^ Sirois, Kevin, "Toad Hops Anew: 90 days later and $90K lighter, an entertainment franchise is born", Business New Haven, August 20, 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°18′41″N 72°55′46″W / 41.311488°N 72.929511°W / 41.311488; -72.929511