Paradise Theatre to reopen late 2018
Art deco cinema gets new life, with elevated dining and updated glamour
After over a decade spent vacant, Paradise Theatre, the Second World War–era art deco cinema at the corner of Bloor Street and Westmoreland Avenue will be given a new life as a fully restored cinema –– but with a few updated perks.
The Paradise Theatre first opened in 1937 and was designed by notable Toronto architect Benjamin Brown, who also designed the Balfour Building at Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street as well as a number of other art deco buildings around the downtown core. The building was designated as a heritage property in 2012. Shortly after, it was purchased by Moray Tawse, a Canadian vintner and financier.
“In [Tawse’s] childhood, his mother worked at a cinema in Rexdale, and cinema was kind of his daycare,” said David Thorek, director of operations at Paradise Theatre. “There is a nostalgia for him about old classic theatre. He wanted to save this one.”
However, it doesn’t take an established financier to realize that singlescreen cinemas aren’t the most reliable business ventures in 2018. With an ambitious dining program, their plans aim to deliver more than just a bright light in a dark room. In fact, they’ve taken out the old film projection booth altogether in favour of a bar with 36 lounge seats. There will be a digital projector in the auditorium.
“There is this amazing trend in New York right now where they’ve made it a much richer experience by having great films but also amazing food and beverage options,” said Thorek, citing as examples Nighthawk Cinema and the Metrograph.
With the help of Solid Design Creative for the interior design, Ware Malcomb Architects as the lead architects and ERA Architects as heritage consultants, they were able to bring the building up to code while retaining key architectural elements. According to Julie Tyndorf, an associate with ERA Architects, the elements that were considered of heritage value were mostly on the exterior of the building, but challenges presented themselves with accessibility as well as the sign and marquee outside, which had to be rebuilt to match the original.
“We’re excited to see it finally open,” said Tyndorf. “It’s been a long process and one that we’ve worked on with a number of consultants in order to ensure that the building maintains its heritage value now and in the future.”
The Paradise Theatre is aiming to open in late 2018.
There is a nostalgia for him about old classic theatre. He wanted to save this one.”
David Thorek, Paradise Theatre’s director of operations, at the site