Bowling and Entertainment Concept ‘The Ballroom’ to Replace Mark McEwan Grocery Store at Yonge & Bloor in Toronto [Exclusive]


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The Ballroom Bowl is where the good times roll in Toronto.

And the concept is rolling into more locations including replacing the McEwan grocery store at 1 Bloor East in Toronto, just off the corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets, and offering its Ballroom Social experience with bowling and an elevated food and beverage menu.

The launch comes following the success of the downtown Ballroom Bowl in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Ballroom Bowl describes itself as Toronto’s “coolest” interactive entertainment centre with 23,500 square feet including 10-pin bowling, dozens of TVs, a rooftop patio, music and elevated pub fare.

The Ballroom Social is expected to open in the fall. 

Future Ballroom Social at 1 Bloor (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Rendering The Ballroom Yorkville (Image: mcCallumSather)

Paul Donato, President and CEO of Dundas Valley Advantage Holdings Inc., which operates the unique concept, said he’s owned the Ballroom Bowl in downtown Toronto for 13 years.

“We are the only bowling alley in the City of Toronto for 13 years running. Obviously moving into Yorkville in the fall of this year, the holiday season, that in and of itself is very unique and I’m very excited about that opportunity and looking forward to bringing what we do downtown in the Entertainment District, bringing the chique, luxe, aspect of it to Yorkville and knocking it out of the park with First Capital (property owner),” said Donato.

“There’s going to be no competition. We’re going to a great location, a great building in Yorkville. It’s going to bring a whole new dimension to the neighbourhood. That’s the most exciting part. We’ll be beside Chick-fil-A’s Canadian flagship location. I’m really pumped about going in there.”

Alex Edmison of CBRE negotiated the lease deal on behalf of Ballroom and is representing the brand nationally for any potential future location expansions.

Future Ballroom Social at 1 Bloor (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Rendering The Ballroom Yorkville (Image: mcCallumSather)

Eric Sherman, Vice President of Real Estate for Yorkville with First Capital Realty which owns the property where the Ballroom Social will debut, said the new location will be close to 20,000 square feet with a street level presence but the majority of the space on the lower level.

Eric Sherman

Sherman said First Capital owns about $1 billion worth of assets in the neighbourhood including Yorkville Village, several properties along Yorkville Avenue and the retail at Yonge and Bloor.

“For us, we’ve been looking to bring unique concepts that bring a level of entertainment, a level of destination, something that is going to create excitement and activity in the neighbourhood,” said Sherman. 

“Paul has been operating the Ballroom for 13 years so he brings a track record of a very good operation, very well-known and recognized in the city and across the country. His vision to create a concept in Bloor Yorkville that elevates and brings a bit of a different spin on his already successful concept is something that’s very attractive to us. It’s a very good use for this challenging space.”

Image: The Ballroom Bowl
Image: The Ballroom Bowl

Donato said the goal is to add many locations of the concept including outside of Toronto.

“I’ve been aspiring to make this move for some time but it takes awhile to get things where you need them and to learn the business and to move forward and turn it into the national brand that I intend to turn it into,” he said.

“When I signed the deal to finance the original project in 2010 obviously there were no bowling alleys in the core of the City of Toronto and the industry in Canada was dying. On death’s door. The US was going through a bit of a struggle as well. I would say that the Ballroom Bowl – it’s a bold statement and I know it to be true from other proprietors now in the country – has re-pioneered the growth and popularity of bowling, not just in the city but in many other cities across the country.

“To be going into Yorkville and other locations subsequently after that is really exciting. It’s a growth industry. People love doing it and unlike golf and hockey and all the other sports, Canadians in general kind of forgot about bowling. We’re always busy downtown and we’ll always be busy in Yorkville and we’re going to bring a high end boutique to that neighbourhood and I’m sure it’s going to be a grand slam.”

There are four basic concepts – Ballroom Bowl, Ballroom Social, Ballmart (which will move out into the suburbs) and the Ballroom Bowl Mechanical, going into Yonge and Dundas and other locations. 

“There are four different concepts that we will be rolling out across the country,” explained Donato.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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