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Toronto gay village favourite Pegasus Bar sold to long-time bartender

New owner hopes to continue ‘friendly, laid-back’ tradition

After serving Pegasus customers for eight years, Chris Hudspeth takes on a new role as the bar's owner. Credit: Courtesy Chris Hudspeth

Church Street mainstay Pegasus Bar came under new management Oct 1, when owners Robert Knight and Michael Doorman sold the bar they created 19 years ago to long-time bartender Chris Hudspeth.

Knight says the couple decided to sell the bar to focus their energy on their other business, Spa Excess. They say that managing both businesses became too much of a burden after the death of Peter Bochove in April. Peter had co-owned and managed Spa Excess.

“Michael is 69 and I’m 67,” Knight says. “We ended up putting a lot of our own time in here, and this is not something we planned to do at our age. We wanted more travel time, more leisure time. Our hearts were not in it. Five years ago the energy was there, but the energy just isn’t there anymore, and that meant that you have to make a decision.”

Knight says the bar was still profitable despite the economic downtown and the difficulty many other businesses on the strip have faced in the last several years.

“Profit-wise for Pegasus, it’s not as good as it once was, but it’s still worthwhile for anybody to own that business,” he says.

Hudspeth has purchased the bar after serving there for eight years. Prior to that he was a part owner of the original Statlers and says he helped open the first gay bar in Barbados. He says he plans to maintain the bar’s identity as a community hangout.

“I’m sure over time you’ll see some change, me putting a little of my own hand to it, but Pegasus has been a very good, well-run bar for the past almost 20 years. I expect to keep it as it is: a fun local spot for gays and their friends to enjoy,” Hudspeth says. “Any change would be an improvement for the customer. These are people I’ve had the privilege of serving and many of whom I’ve come to call friends.”

Knight says the bar’s in good hands with Hudspeth.

“Chris has been with the business for eight years, he’s seen how we’ve run it, but Chris had also managed other bars. He’s young, he’s intelligent,” Knight says. “He has that energy to do those things that Michael and I didn’t. He has ideas that I think will all work. I think he’s going to do very well.”

Knight and Doorman say they have no intention of retiring from the community completely. They say they plan to remain in control of Spa Excess for the foreseeable future.

“We’re not retiring. Our efforts here have escalated because of Peter’s death,” Knight says.