The El Mocambo, perched steps from College St. and Spadina, is one of Toronto’s legacy venues—and while it doesn’t have the storied history of, say, Massey Hall, among certain music fans, it’s just as adored. For good reason: It’s had a long history with the city’s rock ‘n’ roll scene, and since it opened in 1948, has hosted acts like the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, and Muddy Waters. In later years, it housed the city’s punk scene, holding local matinees in, we’d presume, an attempt to emulate CBGB’s Sunday all-ages hardcore shows. And last year, the venue spent $20,000 to restore its iconic palm tree sign.
Still, the El Mo has seen is fair share of troubles: Co-owner Sam Grosso put the venue up for sale earlier this year—complete with a $3.9 million price tag—before shuttering it for the summer. In 2012, Grosso, who also runs the rock-centric Cadillac Lounge in Parkdale, curiously chose to avoid hip-hop acts at the El Mo. It’s the second time the El Mocambo has been up for sale in recent years: Grosso and 99 Sudbury owner Marco Petrucci took control of the venue from its previous owner, Abbas Janghiri, only three years ago. And now, according to BlogTO, it may be shutting down entirely in November.
On the El Mocambo’s Facebook page, Grosso posted about a show—a benefit for Parkinson’s Disease headlined by John Cafferty—and indicated that it might be the final El Mo-associated show.
Last week, Grosso declared that the show would be “the last stand” for the venue. Then, he followed up by writing that “its [sic] all coming to end and were going to finish off with a blowout of a show all for a good cause.”
Curiously, the farewell show isn’t actually happening at the El Mo—it’s set to take place at the Hard Rock Cafe. When a commenter questioned him, Grosso replied: “yes but since the elmo is closing for good November 7th this would be an amazing last waltz.”
Grosso, for his part, indicated that the El Mo was in trouble earlier this summer. The initial plan was to take the summer to overhaul the venue—but it seems like revamping the venue was too costly. “I didn’t have the finances to pay a mortgage, insurance, property taxes, hydro, and gas bills, and then on top of that do major renovations,” he told BlogTO’s Chris Bateman in May.
No word on if Grosso found a buyer—or what he plans to do with the El Mo’s iconic sign. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.