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A popular Toronto dive bar is now receiving crowdfunding donations to keep them in business.
Sweaty Betty’s has been a staple to the Ossington strip, having been open for nearly 17 years. Toronto bars have been hit hard by the pandemic, and with no ability to operate, many struggle far worse than others. Fortunately for Sweaty Betty’s, the community has not turned their backs on them.
The GoFundMe initiative, started by supporters Jessica Thompson and Michelle Bodner, has a goal of $50,000 and has already raised over $20,000 in over a day.
“In one day you’ve come together and saved the bar for another month of lockdown,” Bodner wrote in an update on the fundraiser.
The bar was passed over to owner May Brand in 2018, who also managed the bar for 11 years before that. Locals say she has brought so much life to the bar while retaining its unique personality.
A sign on the door that reads “If you are racist, homophobic, transphobic, or just an asshole, don’t come in here!” has become an iconic symbol that speaks to the bar’s identity.
When some lockdown restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2020, Brand spent $15,000 on renovations that allowed for Sweaty Betty’s to reopen while complying with COVID safety protocols. The bar shut back down in November 2020.
As the months of Toronto’s second lockdown continue to drag on, the community is coming together to keep the lights on at one of their favourite dive bars in the city.
"We want this special space to be there when we can safely get back to normal again," the fundraiser organizers say.