While Toronto the big is perfect for large corporate and social gatherings, it also has a happening scene with ultra-cool spaces that cater to small and mid-sized events.
Looking for a meeting room that can accommodate a small reception afterwards? Check! Need an intimate venue for VIP entertaining? Check! How about a beautiful setting for weddings with guest lists under 200? Check!
Here are a few distinctive, out-of-the-ordinary small-crowd venue suggestions:
Where: Jessica Gorlicky Designs
Big Enough For: 200 reception-style; 150 seated
The Look: Sun-filled by day, gallery-lit by night, this urban-hip industrial-style studio is an art-filled gem. White washes the walls and 16-ft. ceiling, while 30-ft.-wide windows deliver optimal light and visual space. A blank canvas yet no need for décor since events inherit the colour-popping creative of vibrant floor-to-ceiling prints and iconic sculptural pieces of artist-in-residence Jessica Gorlicky. Spend that décor budget-saver on catering and other elements. There are no preferred suppliers so the choice is yours.
Bonus Points: Book studio owner-artist Gorlicky for a dynamic live-art performance as the perfect entertainment complement to the space.
Where: Globe Bistro
Big Enough For: 12 to 180 seated. Total buy-out of 300 reception-style
The Look: Housed in what was once a circa-1910 theatre, this fabulous three-storey restaurant is offers several semi-private and private options. The dining room alone features a unique tri-level layout, including mezzanine and main floor-seating embracing a “stage” that can also be curtained off as VIP dining for 12. There’s complete private dining-reception-bar space on the second floor. Plus, an amazing patio oasis for up to 60 on the rooftop. Don’t overlook the front-of-house wine bar for excellent stand-up space for 50 on a progressive dine around the Danforth neighbourhood.
Bonus Points: Your event menu is in good hands here. Not only is the restaurant a perennial Wine Spectator award-winner, but owner Ed Ho is among the city’s first restauranteurs to promote seasonal, local farm-to-table dining.
Where: Hot Black Coffee
Big Enough For: 10-60 reception-style
The Look: For events seeking an intimate coffee-shop vibe, this is the place for serious java with exclusive beans, cool brewing techniques and competition-level service and pours on tap. Big, round copper pendant lights and a relaxing neutral palette with splashes of red, black and grey preside over the minimalist-designed euro-style café. Skylights add a bright airiness to the space. Personable-behind-the-counter baristas are also talented mixologists capable of slinging cocktails. An experienced events team, optimal soundproofing and a killer sound system help shift gears from day-time coffee to night-time party mode.
Bonus Points: Book a team-building coffee-master class experience. There’s also a generous-sized private patio out back with a fire pit and parking for a food truck.
Where: Chill Ice House
Big Enough For: About 50 in the Ice Lounge with an additional 60 in Gatsby’s Tale
The Look: It’s all about the novelty of bundling up in cozy capes and gloves to mingle, mix and Instagram from within the extreme coolness of 185,000 lbs of sculpted ice. The lounge’s interior is undeniably unique. Bathed in blue light, every detail is chiselled out of extremely frozen water, from walls and chairs to bar, accent pieces and cocktail glasses. Warm up in the adjacent speakeasy. Tall ceilings, comfy couches and a piano give the room a laid-back vibe.
Bonus Points: Play up the ice with live ice-carving demonstrations, customized ice sculptures and cocktail and champagne ice luges.
Where: 2nd Floor Events
Big Enough For: 180 seated; 350 reception-style
The Look: A full-service turnkey event venue, this open-concept space offers a spare industrial aesthetic with exposed brick walls and hardwood flooring. Large heritage windows backdrop the 36-ft. bar and snack area. Funky light box fixtures hang overhead. Events can customize the light boxes with their own graphics and photo images. Partition the space using room dividers that neatly drop down from the ceiling. A-v equipment and furnishings, including tables, chairs and loungers, are included in the rental.
Bonus Points: Add in a round or two of ping-pong at SPIN Toronto, the venue’s downstairs neighbour. Both venues are managed by the same team.
Where: Campbell House Museum
Big Enough For: 12 to 85 guests
The Look: This 1822 Georgian-style mansion is the oldest remaining building from the original town of York. Each room features different characteristics from the era and is furnished with period vignettes that can be cleared or adapted for private event use. There are six working fireplaces throughout. Combining the lower level’s historic kitchen and dining room is a favourite option for cocktail receptions. Five floor-to-ceiling windows grace the second-floor ballroom, a versatile space for meetings and weddings. The main floor reception and drawing room also work together as a hosting setting.
Bonus Points: Located right at University Avenue and Queen Street West, the museum’s beautifully landscaped grounds can be tented to accommodate events for over 500.