After more than 20 years, Toronto gay club The Barn/Stables has cleared its dancefloor for good.
General manager Russell Palloo, who has worked at the bar for five years, says it’s time for The Barn to take a bow. The bar hosted a farewell party on Aug 8.
“The Barn is closed for good,” he says. “It has come to a point where it has had its run. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can actually market anymore. The places where people go out have changed, their desires have changed, and unfortunately, The Barn is not something that can keep up with those desires anymore.”
Toronto has many choices for gay folks looking for a night out, and Palloo says The Barn had a difficult time competing for partiers.
College Night on Wednesdays has always been a moneymaker, but the weekends just were not profitable, he says. “This is not the environment people want to go out in . . . It would need significant, significant, renovation in order to keep up.”
Palloo would not say what the cost would be to update and renovate The Barn.
Although the bar is closed, the property has not yet been sold, Palloo says, noting a local person is currently negotiating a deal to take over the business.
The prospective buyer is interested in reopening the space as a nightclub.
Palloo, who has been at the reins since The Barn reopened in 2007 under its current owners, expects the deal to be finalized in the fall. He also hopes to stay on and manage the business when it opens under new ownership.
“I was a patron of The Barn for years,” he says. “I am sad to see it come to an end because it is a landmark in our community, but at the same time, as a business person and a patron, I’m happy to see it go out with dignity.”
Palloo says he is heartened knowing a future hotspot will replace The Barn. The new club will not bear the same name.
“There’s been strong reaction already from the community,” he says. “People are sad to see it go, but it’s not the end for the actual space. People are happy to hear there will be something in its place.”
The Barn first opened in the 1980s, Palloo says. The nightclub then closed in 2004 after its original owner, Janko Naglic, was found dead in his Davisville-area home on Oct 27, 2004.
The death led to a homicide investigation and, eventually, a murder trial.
Inside The Barn, staff added a moving tribute to Naglic; his black-and-white portrait now graces the mantel of the first-floor fireplace.
In 2008, after a month-long trial, a jury acquitted Ivan Mendez-Romero, Naglic’s longtime lover.