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.
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.
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, hosts 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.