Toronto Then & Now: Tivoli Billiards- Supermarket Bar in Kensington Market

Supermarket Bar & Variety on Augusta has a fascinating history, evolving from a Portuguese pool hall into a thriving music venue where The Tragically Hip made a surprise performance.

During the 1960s, Kensington Market became a key gathering place for Portuguese immigrants. They were the second-largest group to settle in Kensington Market following the Jewish community (Canadian Encyclopedia). When newcomers arrived in Toronto, many of them would head straight to the Tivoli Billiards Hall on Augusta Avenue, which opened in 1964. The Tivoli played a vital role in helping people who didn’t speak English connect with others in the community, making it easier for them to find places to live and job opportunities. The Tivoli eventually closed down in 1997 as the Portuguese community spread out to different parts of Toronto.

Photo: RiverWorld Studios

In 2004, Supermarket Bar opened in the same space at 268 Augusta Avenue and quickly because a cultural hub for artists and performers of all kinds. In 2012 it drew massive attention when The Tragically Hip unexpectedly performed there. The event celebrated their 13th album, “Now For Plan A.” This impromptu performance left a lasting mark on both fans and the venue itself.

Today , Supermarket Bar is a lively fixture in Kensington Market showcasing Toronto’s music scene. They host many events including live music, DJ dance parties, comedy shows, and book launches, with sound and video equipment managed by skilled technicians. Supermarket also has one of the city’s best patios– a perfect spot for people-watching and enjoying the classic Greek favourites from Hector’s Taverna, the restaurant that operates out of their kitchen. 268 Augusta Avenue, Toronto.

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