George’s Spaghetti House – Canada’s Premier Live Jazz Club

1977 - George's Spaghetti House, looking west from Dundas St E & Sherbourne St
1977 – George’s Spaghetti House, looking west from Dundas St E & Sherbourne St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 71, Item 127)

George’s Spaghetti House, later George’s Jazz Room, was located at 290 Dundas St E (at Sherbourne St on the northwest corner) in the Garden District of Toronto.

Doug Cole & George’s Spaghetti House

Doug Cole, known as the founder of Toronto’s jazz movement, opened the live jazz club in 1956. It took a little while for jazz to catch on, but when it did, the club attracted top talents like Ed Bickert (guitarist), Guido Basso (trumpeter, flugelhornist), Jerry Fuller (drummer), Don Thompson (double bass, piano, vibes) and Moe Koffman (saxophonist, flautist, clarinetist). As well as playing regularly at the club as the Moe Koffman Quartet/Quintet, Moe also booked the acts and was the musical director for 25 years.

Besides being one of the longest-running jazz clubs in the country, George’s Spaghetti House was also a popular Italian restaurant. The second floor was later opened and called Castle George.

In 1983, Mr Cole sold George’s Spaghetti House, and a year later, the new owner moved the jazz club up to the second floor.

Bourbon Street

1981 - George's Italian Cafe, Bourbon Street and Basin Street, once at the now demolished 180 Queen St W
1981 – George’s Italian Cafe, Bourbon Street and Basin Street, once at the now-demolished 180 Queen St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 70, Item 16)

Doug Cole also operated two other clubs in Toronto – Bourbon Street and Basin Street. Opening in the early 1970s, Bourbon Street occupied the main floor of 180 Queen St W, while Basin St was on the second floor. Mainly American modern jazz talent was featured at this location. The Queen West building was also home to George’s Italian Cafe. The clubs closed in the mid-1980s, and the building has since been demolished.

Honours & Awards

Doug Cole received the Order of Canada in 2008 for his development of jazz in Canada. In 2012, just days after his passing, he received Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Medal. He loved music and was known for giving musicians the opportunity to experiment and develop their sound in a live setting. Because of that, many great jazz musicians were able to build careers in Canada.

A Radio Show & the Building Today

Ken Cole, Doug’s son, is the host of George’s Spaghetti House Jazz radio show on The Bay 88.7FM, airing Sunday evenings between ‪8 to 11 pm‬. Ken offers a glimpse into the backstories and history of jazz.

From 2004, the building was home to True Love Cafe; however, it has since closed.

George’s Spaghetti House Photos

2020 - The building once home to George's Spaghetti House and more recently, the True Love Cafe, on the northwest corner of Dundas St E & Sherbourne St
2020 – The building once home to George’s Spaghetti House and more recently, the True Love Cafe, on the northwest corner of Dundas St E & Sherbourne St
1977 - George's Spaghetti House, looking west from Dundas St E & Sherbourne St
1977 – George’s Spaghetti House, looking west from Dundas St E & Sherbourne St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 71, Item 127)
1972 - A view of George's Spaghetti House and Sherbourne St, looking northwest from Dundas St E
1972 – A view of George’s Spaghetti House and Sherbourne St, looking northwest from Dundas St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 50, Item 8)
1975/80 - Moe Koffman at George's Spaghetti House (GAMI/Simonds & Library and Archives Canada e011043783)
1975/80 – Moe Koffman at George’s Spaghetti House (GAMI/Simonds & Library and Archives Canada e011043783)
1977 - A view of George's Spaghetti House and Dundas St E, looking west from Sherbourne St
1977 – A view of George’s Spaghetti House and Dundas St E, looking west from Sherbourne St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 71, Item 128)
1972 - A view of Dundas St E and George's Spaghetti House, looking west from Sherbourne St
1972 – A view of Dundas St E and George’s Spaghetti House, looking west from Sherbourne St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 50, Item 12)
1977 - A view of Dundas St E and George's Spaghetti House, looking west from Sherbourne St
1977 – A view of Dundas St E and George’s Spaghetti House, looking west from Sherbourne St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 71, Item 126)
1981 - George's Italian Cafe, Bourbon Street and Basin Street, once at the now demolished 180 Queen St W
1981 – George’s Italian Cafe, Bourbon Street and Basin Street, once at the now-demolished 180 Queen St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 70, Item 16)
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