Legendary El Mocambo set to re-open this summer

More than two years after the historic El Mocambo nearly closed its doors for good, owner Michael Wekerle announced Wednesday the music venue will be re-opening this summer.

CBC Dragon's Den star Michael Wekerle announces iconic club's revival

The El Mocambo announced its closure in November 2014. (CBC)

More than two years after the historic El Mocambo nearly closed its doors for good, owner Michael Wekerle announced Wednesday the music venue will be re-opening this summer.

The tech entrepreneur and regular on CBC's Dragon's Den said he will be working with INK Entertainment to manage the establishment, which was once a fixture in the city's music scene. 

The club opened in the 1940s but rocketed to worldwide fame in 1977 when the Rolling Stones recorded a surprise live concert there and partied with Margaret Trudeau. U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lou Reed and Elvis Costello are among the other big names to take the stage in the iconic space. 

Known as one of the city's nightclub giants, INK Entertainment is run by CEO Charles Khabouth, who oversees venues like Uniun, REBEL and Cabana Pool Bar.

"Charles is a veteran of the music and entertainment industry who has successfully transitioned into a world-class restaurateur and soon-to-be hotelier, Wekerle said in a statement Wednesday.

"He runs one of the most successful hospitality companies in North America, and we are thrilled he and his team will share their expertise in re-launching the El Mo," he added.

CBC Dragon's Den's Michael Wekerle bought the El Mocambo soon after the previous owner announced it was closing. He's trying to revive it as a space for both live and recorded music.

The company is hopeful it can make the El Mo "one of the premier live music venues in Toronto," according to Khabouth.

New recording studio and production faclities 

The new and improved El Mo will stay true to its roots as a live music venue but will also offer recording and music production facilities.

The recording studio will be managed by music producer Eddie Kramer, who has a fond connection to the venue, and has worked alongside the architecture firm Walters Storyk Design Group to overhaul the space.

The legendary El Mocambo sign went up for sale on eBay in 2014.

"I recorded The Rolling Stones at the El Mo in 1977. Now, 40 years later, I've returned to a vastly improved venue —from an aesthetic and technological point of view — alongside my dear friend John Storyk, to continue the legend of the El Mo with Michael and his team," said Kramer in a statement.

Kramer worked with the architecture firm to set up Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios in New York.

Live-streaming shows a first for the El Mo

In a move to launch the El Mo into the digital age, Wekerle plans to offer live streaming for shows and events.

This is the first time shows will be live-streamed from the venue. 

The closure of the iconic venue was announced in October 2014 before Wekerle stepped forward to purchase it.


Tania Mehta is an Associate Producer in the CBC Toronto newsroom. She writes, edits and chases stories for radio, TV and online. Tania has lived in the Middle East, Asia and Africa and now calls Toronto home. You'll often find her in search of the city's coolest street art to photograph.