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The Pinball Café falls victim to Parkdale’s restaurant ban (UPDATED)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Earlier today, Jason and Rachel Hazzard, owners of Parkdale’s Pinball Café, posted a note on Facebook announcing they’re shutting down. The culprit: Toronto’s bylaws. The couple were unable to secure a business licence because their café, which opened earlier this year, was home to more than two pinball machines, a contravention of Zoning Bylaw No. 438-86. Jason Hazzard told The Dish that the café then decided to pare their selection down to two and reapply for a licence. This second attempt came too late, however, since local councillor Gord Perks had already pushed through the Interim Control Bylaw (a.k.a. restaurant ban) in the area. “It all just seems so weird to us,” said Hazzard, who pointed out the irony that the city is currently pursuing a potential casino development. “It was almost surreal.” Hazzard has already sold off his collection of vintage machines, although he kept for himself a 1987 Pin-Bot—“the greatest game ever built”—which will now take pride of place in his living room.

UPDATE: Councillor Gord Perks has posted an entry on his website pointing out that it didn’t have to end this way:

The owners had a zoning issue to overcome in order to get a licence. I met with the owners of the Pinball Cafe in February of this year and urged them to get a business licence and offered them suggestions for two possible ways to do this. They could apply to the Committee of Adjustment to allow for a “variance” from the zoning rules, or they could ask City Council to change the zoning of this property. It appears the owners did neither.

He also notes that the Interim Control Bylaw cannot shut down an establishment that’s already operating legally.