COVID-19 chips away at Toronto gaming scene as The Hive closes its doors

After many happy memories, it's time to say goodbye to The Hive esports bar

The Hive esports bar
The Hive esports bar at Yonge and St. Clair COURTESY The Hive

Toronto gamers are losing some of their favourite places to visit for a guaranteed good time.

Places that hosted years of unforgettable experiences are shutting down during the pandemic. That’s what happened to The Hive esports (electronic sports) bar in downtown Toronto, along with a few other notable social gaming businesses like the Mississauga Playdium, for example.

Pandemic-related restrictions limit where, when and how we can create new memories. Businesses are closing, and celebrations are at a standstill. We can’t make new memories in our favourite places if they’re all permanently shutting down. The Hive is one of those places forced to close indefinitely.

The Hive was an esports lounge located near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue where gamers could go to eat, drink, play games, and socialize. It hosted a number of events, taking advantage of its bar, kitchen, TVs, PCs, projectors, game consoles, and arcades. It originally opened in 2016 under the name Raiders, but underwent a makeover and rebrand in 2018.

The Hive
The Hive interior, where the projector and PC setups can be seen.

“There were a lot of meetups that were bringing people of similar interests together and creating bonds there that will be everlasting,” said Jonathon Daluz, a long-time customer and supporter of The Hive. “It was more than just a venue. It was a place to create memories and hang out with friends.”

Daluz and plenty of other patrons, like Hamza Khattak, had been frequenting the bar even before the rebrand.

“I used to visit it relatively often,” Khattak said. “When it initially started as Raiders and when it shifted to The Hive, too.” Khattak said he was “sad” that The Hive is now closed.

Losing a venue like this leaves a bit of a hole in the Toronto gaming community, but it also provides the opportunity for longtime customers to look back on fond memories.

“The first time I ever went to The Hive was a few years ago (when it was Raiders)…for a Twitch Toronto meet-up that was held annually,” Daluz said. “The community was thriving — extremely warm and welcoming — and it’s something that I’ll forever cherish.”

These events left a lasting impression on Daluz. In fact, he decided to host his own tournament at the venue in 2018 for the popular video game, Fortnite.

The Hive carved out a niche in the Toronto community by bringing people together to enjoy activities that are, more often than not, played virtually from home in smaller online groups. The venue and its patrons also gave back to the community. One of Daluz’s fondest memories was meeting a child from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children during a 24-hour charity event hosted by The Hive.

“I was brought on board to stream for the event,” he said. “To help with raffling off items and giving away items to the streamers that were there as well as the ambassador of SickKids hospital. Seeing [his] smile truly made the 24-hour stream all the more worth it.”

The Hive
Fortnite event hosted by Jonathon Daluz in 2018.

A look at the bar’s Facebook page illustrates how many members of the community thought of The Hive as a social hub. One comment goes so far as to say, “it felt like I lost a home.”

The Hive will be missed, but its story ends on a hopeful note. The countless good times have inspired Jonathon Daluz to open his own gaming bar and grill in the future.

“I will be taking that memory with me and sharing it with others by bringing up my own venue for the local community.”

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Posted: Jun 17 2021 3:32 pm
Filed under: Spotlight On Small Biz Toronto Legacy