On October 1, owners of Crow. Bar & Variety announced with heavy hearts that they were closing up shop, effective immediately.
“It was a labour of love,” said Steven Vipond, who co-owned the local live music venue and restaurant with his wife, Jennifer Vipond. “We got to the point where we couldn’t keep wondering when it would come back, and what it would take to bring it back.”
Like most restaurants in town, Crow closed its doors mid-March and shifted to a take-out model.
The owners, with help from their stage manager, Craig Smith, got creative, introducing Campfire in Quarantine and Isolation Sessions on Instagram Live and Zoom to stay connected and continue the music side of the business as well.
Eventually, even that couldn’t cut it, and with “no end in sight,” the owners made the tough decision to call it.
“Crow only has one speed, and that’s full-on fun,” read the Instagram announcement on Oct. 1.
Vipond and his wife, who also own Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury, opened Crow three years ago, and called it a passion project to broaden the live music scene in Collingwood.
Vipond worked with Smith to bring talented musicians from all over the world to Crow’s stage. Their favourite thing was to be able to showcase musicians, big or small. Smith also hosted an open mic night every Thursday.
“Aside from the music, I loved the musicians. They are a breed unto themselves,” said Vipond. “I love their drive and their tenacity.”
“Seeing so many people get on stage for the first time… The confidence and the joy that it brings them, brought me a lot of joy,” said Smith.
Smith, who is a local musician and producer himself, has continued playing music consistently throughout the summer at Blue Mountain Resort and private events. He said he misses the community of musicians, entertainers and the audience that the Crow created.
“Crow was a special place. A social place,” he said. “It was a cool thing that lasted for a while, and now it’s gone. But it will forever be a really good memory.”
Vipond is thankful for the many years of memories as well.
“It was a good run, it really was. There was a real core group of true music lovers who always had their butts in those seats, out supporting and enjoying,” said Vipond.
“I hope it can live on in people’s memories. Whether it’s because they discovered a new favourite band there, or whether it was the food… Whatever it was,” he added.
Since the announcement, the owners have seen lots of support from the community, with hundreds of comments on social media and people sharing personal memories and pictures of the iconic “Music Saves” sign.
“Music saves, it really does. It lifts you up, it makes you feel happy,” said Vipond.
Both Smith and Vipond are hopeful that once the world returns to some sense of normalcy, live music will live again in Collingwood.
“There is so much talent, so just bringing that to the forefront and having a place for musicians is key,” said Smith.
Bruce Wine Bar will continue to offer take-out and prepared foods, grocery items, and wine and beer to-go through its bodega and bottle shop on Bruce St. in Thornbury.