Wayne Gretzky's, Second City making way for 40-storey condo development
2 beloved Toronto institutions the latest to be affected by wave of high-rise construction
Wayne Gretzky's Toronto and Oasis Rooftop Patio and beloved sketch comedy theatre Second City — two institutions in downtown Toronto — are the latest to be affected by a wave of new condo development in the city.
The two have been placed on notice that the building in which they are located will be demolished to make way for a 40-storey condo building with 500 residential units.
In a tweet Wednesday, The Second City confirmed it's changing locations, but reassured Torontonians the move isn't right away and that they will stay in the city.
On Thursday Wayne Gretzky's notified customers that "after 26 years in the heart of the theatre district," it will be closing to accommodate an upcoming condominium development.
"We want to thank all our guests throughout the years who've made our time here the most incredible experience possible," said general manager Heather Santsche.
Located only a short walk from the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena, Wayne Gretzky's has over the years become more than just a restaurant.
Santsche says Wayne Gretzky's has evolved into a community hub for sports fans and anyone with an appreciation for the former NHL superstar's contributions to hockey history.
It's also played host to some of the biggest moments in sports, including:
- In 1994, retired NBA superstar Isiah Thomas made his first public introduction at Gretzky's as Raptors executive vice-president and part owner.
- Also in '94, the Raptors team name announcement took place in the studio space that is now occupied by Second City.
- Wayne Gretzky and his wife Janet Gretzky watched the O.J. Simpson Bronco Chase live on TV at the Opening Night of Oasis Rooftop Patio June 17, 1994.
- Gretzky hosted his retirement party at the restaurant in 1999. He also brought the Stanley Cup to the establishment shortly afterwards.
- In 2013, Chris Chelios hosted his Hockey Hall of Fame induction party at Wayne Gretzky's — Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Kid Rock, John McEnroe, Jerry Bruckheimer, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Cusack and Cindy Crawford were all in attendance.
From 1997 to 2005, The Second City — Toronto's best-known improv sketch comedy theatre troupe — was based at the current site of Bisha Hotel.
At its current location on Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, The Second City has two theatres — holding 60 and 300 seats respectively — and an 8,000-square-foot training centre.
The theatre has been at this location for 15 years.
"It's been great to be in this area, but also ... there are condos popping up literally in every direction," said Second City executive producer Gary Rideout.
Rideout says the theatre is allowed to remain at its current location until November 2020 and hopes to iron out relocation plans in the coming months.
But whatever happens, it is certainly not the end for Second City, he says.
"Business is good. We just have to find another place we can go."
For her part, Santsche says Wayne Gretzky's is commemorating this final summer with its dedicated supporters in mind.
"We want to thank all our guests throughout the years who've made our time here the most incredible experience possible," Santsche said.
"As a thank you, we're inviting supporters to celebrate our last summer season together. We only have one left so let's make it a great one."