The History of The Pilot Tavern
2014 marked the 70th birthday of The Pilot Tavern, an occasion worth celebrating in a joint that’s seen a lot of celebrations. The Pilot was born “The Pilot Grill” in 1944 at its original location 800 Yonge Street, just north of Bloor. The name of the bar was a tip of the cap to the heroic RCAF flyers of World War II.
During the Yonge Street era, The Pilot was a clubhouse, meeting place and sacred temple to artists, musicians and writers. The Spadina Eleven hung out here, Austin Clarke was inspired, Julie Christie awed. In those days The Pilot often cashed the artists’ cheques from the nearby Issacs Gallery and the Carmen Lamanna Gallery just up the street. Lightfoot performed and Dylan met Robbie Robertson to recruit the Hawks as his back-up band here too.
In 1972 The Pilot moved to its current location at 22 Cumberland Street. Legend has it that a group of Pilot regulars physically carried the original bar around the corner to its new home. A sense of history and occasion was carried over too.
1987 brought new, enthusiastic owners made up of Pilot fanatics who had been patronizing the establishment since their high school days at nearby Jarvis Collegiate. They vowed to retain the essence of what made The Pilot a truly great Toronto bar while also introducing some new traditions. In 1993 The Flight Deck opened a rooftop patio with The Pilot’s trademark laid-back vibe and a new ingredient: sunshine. The Pilot’s second floor is home to The Stealth Lounge, a romantically dark and inviting event space that hosts parties of all sorts. As we have for the past 27 years The Pilot still offers live Jazz from some of Canada’s finest musicians every Saturday afternoon.
We’re celebrating 70 years, but we’re delighted to celebrate whatever you’re celebrating too.
Please join us.
The Pilot is not only one of Toronto’s oldest taverns but it has a great roof patio called the Flight Deck, lots of space, wonderful staff and great food. Everything is priced super reasonably especially considering that it’s located in the heart of downtown in the upper class Yorkville district. Highly recommended.