Five years ago, investor Michael Wekerle purchased Toronto nightclub the El Mocambo for $3.8 million. Since then, rumours about the club’s business plan, opening date, and booking policy have become the subject of great curiosity, and local media headlines.
Last year’s soft opening during CMW came and went and now it appears that the club famous for its neon palm sign is off the designated venue list for CMW shows again.
But, a new date for a soft opening is strongly promised.
This time by El Mocambo’s designated publicist, Charlotte Thompson who runs Red Umbrella PR in the city.
Responding to an e-mail yesterday about details for the club after CMW re-routed various events from the Spadina Avenue club, Thompson stated: “We are very close to sharing more information re the club’s opening + additional programming and are looking to do a media open house at the beginning of March.”
CMW topper Neill Dixon tells FYI that there was a list of events that the annual hoped to put into the Elmo, but they were never confirmed. “We couldn’t get a price or confirmed dates, we were under pressure to announce shows and get them on sale,” he said in an email, adding: “We love the Elmo, but we have a fiduciary duty to the bands to make sure they have a guaranteed venue and date.” He added that discussions continue with the venue for “some possible other shows.”
Wekerle hosted a media scrum outside the club last week to celebrate Chinese New Year. Various reports suggest the reinvention of the club, which includes stripping it to its bones, adding a third floor, and the installation of a multi-track recording studio has put his overall investment in or around the $20M range.
In a Feb. 14 story published in Now, the club’ owner renewed speculation about an official opening, stating: “We expect to open soon, but I’ve said it eight times in a row and I’ve been wrong, so I think I best not be saying anything too definite right now. "But very soon."
Asked by Now reporter Richard Trapunski how soon? Wekerle responded: "When the snow melts and the sun starts to shower."
If the false-starts have done anything, it is to build a huge well of curiosity for its official launch and to find out just what Wekerle has cooked up for its bookings policy.