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Big Johnson's moves in at Church and Maitland


Big Johnson's moves in at Church and Maitland

Keith Jalbert, one of the owners of the new gay bar at Church and Maitland streets. IMAGE 1 OF 1
New bar and grill set to open before Pride
The managers of a new gay bar at the corner of Church and Maitland streets are racing to finish renovations so they can open in time for Pride Week.

Big Johnson's Bar and Grill will replace the Village Rainbow Café, which shut its doors in January. The space has sat vacant since then. 

The three managers say they have been watching the location for a while. 

Keith Jalbert, who is gay, says he is looking forward to a busy summer season and a bustling patio with a party atmosphere. “It’s going to be completely different. We’re investing a lot of money to make it more modern, comfortable and welcoming. A lot of people tell us it’s the perfect bar with the perfect patio.”

The managers plan to have a DJ spinning and drag artists performing throughout the Pride season.

"Food will be 'all fresh and local,' says co-manager Tom Missios. Expect the menu to consist of creative pub fare, such as sandwiches, burgers, appetizers, dinner specials and brunch on the weekends. “The kitchen will make everything from scratch as much as possible.”

The managers hope their “high-end” martinis ensure they stand out from other bars on the Village strip.

Co-manager Chris Kay says there will be 15 televisions throughout the bar tuned into sports and other major events, but Jalbert stresses that it will not be a sports bar.

“We are smack in the middle of the gay village, so we want to be a part of that,” he says.

Kay says the managers plan to be active in the community. “We will be involved with the BIA, community groups, charities and area gay organizations.”

This announcement comes on the heels of news this week of another gay bar opening at Church and Alexander, in the former George's Play
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Let the Buyer Beware
Okay, to start with the upside, the atmosphere and environment at this place is much improved. The grumpy Greek lady is gone as well as her bizarre family member 'employees'. A great job was done in improving this resto's physical appearance.

The food quality was severely lacking. I can't describe it ..... but the food was not worth it by any measure. I expected so much more after all the hype.

Great place to have a cocktail only but there are so many other places to give you the exact same thing .... and a decent plate of food.
15 tv monitors? Is this a restaurant or a media broadcasting centre? Here's a startling concept: how 'bout an eatery/drinkery DEVOID of all monitors? I personally go out and eat/socialize on occasion to get AWAY from the electronic/digital banality of my home television and computer. This pervasive fixation on needing to be "plugged in" 24/7 is extremely aggravating. Let good food and good service be the pleasant distraction for a change.
If you want good food, leave the ghetto
I agree with Skeptic. If a gay couple or a group of gay friends want good food or a special night out at a restaurant, they don't go to Church Street. Instead, they go to Yorkville, Little Italy, or another area with a reputation for good restaurants.
“New place; same old cockroaches.”
There have been stylish places with good food on Church St. in the last 20 years --they all soon went bankrupt. Church St. customers want pizza and hamburgers and other pukey food like Cafe California and those cheap Asian places. So much for Gays having better taste than anyone else. As for the new place at Church & Maitland: “New place; same old cockroaches.”
Sorry, but for all the hype this place opened with,such as this article, I was disappointed by the food quality.

I don't want to be overly negative and I won't get into details, but maybe management can use this as constructive criticism for things to work on going forward.
First of all Mel, grow up! Just because your vegetarian meal wasn't made to perfection their second or 3rd day open doesn't mean their menu is bad. A tad bit dramatic also in regards to the managers comments. The menu is great, I have eaten there about 7 times now and never had a problem. The managers are so friendly and very helpful when trying to decide what to order. I totally suggest Big Johnson's to anyone looking for good food, good service and nice environment.

A+ All the way.
Yikes, this place was bad:(
I had high hopes for this place but it was horrible. Menu sounds okay but don't be fooled as they miss the mark on flavor. Cold tasteless food was my experience. Our aloof server was apologetic, the manager came over to see how our meal was, we said it was okay but took an hour. His response was 'I know, I had to get in there and help them make it'. He walked away leaving our dirty dishes behind and then went and had a cigerette as we sat waiting forever for our bill. It was so bad that I'm actually going to try and give this place bad comments wherever I can.
What we really need on Church St (more)
Actually what would work very well in the Village would be a restaurant which serves grilled cheese sandwiches with the cheese made to look like notables
such as Rob Ford and Stephen Harper
and so on.

Not only that, but unlike cannibalism, it would be completely legal.
What we really need on Church St.
What we really need on Church St is a restaurant which serves humans
ie:- one that actually serves humans on the menu to the cannibal crowd.

Not only would it cater to GLB cannibals
but it would attract all the straight cannibals too and increase business in the Village.

Of course there is the little problem that most folks do not relish being eaten and are reluctant to become menu items.

However perhaps it could serve little piggies in drag pretending to be humans.

Just a thought.
Another vague restaurant
Why is Church Street infested with vague pub style restaurants that sell the same '80s style food. Nachos, wings, chicken Caesar. Why has the foodie revolution by-passed Church Street? Why do the vegetarian options suck everywhere on Church Street? When will creative menus finally arrive? Why can't more restaurants have stylish design? Church Street doesn't need another gross pub. It needs style and new concepts.


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