The Corral In Oshawa Closes As A Result of COVID-19

In Editor Choice, Local

It’s been around since 1983, but COVID-19 has claimed another victim.

The Corral Restaurant and Bar on Simcoe Street in Oshawa has closed its doors for good as of Monday, October 28, 2020.

Owners Cindy Chandler and Al Majewski got together on Monday at the bar and decided it was time.

Just after 4 p.m. on Facebook the following post was made on The Corral’s site.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the closing of The Corral due to COVID-19. After an amazing 37 year run, the pandemic as well as exorbitant insurance costs have forced us to make this difficult decision.

The Corral has been as much of a home as a bar to many. People have met and married here. Artists have started their career here. We’ve been blessed to have performers such as Terri Clark, Johnny Reid, Emerson Drive, James Barker Band, Shane Yellowbird, Jason McCoy & the Road Hammers, Crystal Shawanda, The Wilkinson’s and many many more.

We want to thank all those that have called The Corral their place to hang. We are going to miss seeing all the happy faces of our regulars, our loyal staff as well as all of the wonderful talented musicians that have performed here. It is indeed the end of an era.

Cindy and I are sad that we are closing, but we are happy that we were able to be a part of this. We wish you all the best, and want to say what everybody else has said this year… 2020 sucks!?”

The post has been shared nearly 4,000 times and has over 1,100 comments.

Speaking to Today’s Northumberland on Tuesday at one of the most popular country bars in Ontario, Chandler said, “the bleeding has to stop at some point.”

Chandler and her business partner Majewski bought the country dance club two years ago.

But Chandler has been apart of The Corral for 16-years.

“It’s heartwrenching – it’s very disappointing.”

Chandler lives in Cobourg, but for 16-years, The Corral has been home.

With the bar closing at 2 a.m., there were many times she was coming home when the sun was coming up after hundreds of people enjoyed themselves.

“Walking in here was like walking into my living room where I had a big party every night – it’s tough.”

Chandler said COVID-19 has taken such a toll on dance club industry that she estimates there will only be 10% of night clubs around in the near future.

The Corral closed on March 14 and hasn’t been opened since.

Insurance costs are through the roof and some won’t even take on a night club that can occupy over 250 people.

Chandler said they were, “hanging on by the skin of our teeth as far as getting through COVID. But then to be able to actually open, the insurance was the straw that broke the camels back.”

The Corral’s insurance policy was $34,000 to $38,000 a year with a $10,000 deductable.

The deductible is paid per incident, win or lose – it’s paid.

But since COVID-19, quotes for insurance are between $90,000 and $110,000 with a $20,000 deductible which is paid win or lose.

“How do you justify that? Those numbers are crazy.”

At this stage, the nightclub side which occupies approximately 400 people isn’t allowed to open and it’s impossible to make a living on the pub side which has a occupancy of approximately 200 people.

“On the pub side how do you make it on 1/3 of your capacity? It’s just not feasible. You can’t work the numbers.”

With the decision made the business partners made the decision on Monday.

‘It’s sad, but I can’t help but smile because I think about the memories.”

At times people were lined up around the building.

“The people, the customers, loyal staff – I’ve been blessed.”

“All of the community, the bands I’ve seen start and make it big – they played their hearts out.”

Since the announcement people have been non-stop phoning, texting and sending messages asking if there is anything that can be done.

“Everybody’s in shock – it’s part of Durham.”

Majewski said he started at the bar in the late 1990’s when a band didn’t show and the former owner asked if he could be a dj for the evening.

“It was hopping when I first came here. I was blown away how wonderful this place was when I walked through the doors.”

“It has it’s own energy.”

Majewski said it was always a dream to own the bar and that came true two years ago when he retired after working 37-years in the utility field.

But COVID-19, put an end to that dream.

“I had no clue how bad it would get, but nobody else did either.”

Majewski said he’ll go back to being retired – for now. But The Corral has changed him. It’s been apart of his life for so many years – who knows what the future will bring.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. If I had a crystal ball, then I wouldn’t have stuck around when COVID came.”

Since the news broke of the closing, people have been dropping by just for one last look of The Corral.

One of those people was Bobby Martin from the James Barker Band who said The Corral was one of the first places the band played as a group.

Martin reminisced about his band mates and friends having a booth where they would meet.

For two years the band developed a large fan base at The Corral.

The last time the band played at the venue there was a line wrapped around the building.

It was always the perfect venue to play.

“You felt like you were at a mosh pit,” said Martin.

‘To this day it was, it was still probably some of the rowdiest crowds we’ve ever played in front of.”

And that list includes Europe and the United States – anywhere.

When Martin saw the post he felt terrible for both owners and wanted to stop by one final time.

“We were really sorry to hear about the bar closing.”

Martin took photos on stage and with the sign.

When COVID first hit, no one in the band thought it would last this long and that it would be his last time at the venue.

“There are so many memories. We grew up in this bar with our college days. The amount of acts we would see (at the Tribute Communities Centre) there and then come here for the country after party where we would play mostly – we’re going to miss this bar.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

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