Toronto’s arts lovers may have shed a collective tear at the demolition of The Second City’s long-time Mercer Street home, but the good news is that its new digs are bigger and arguably better.

After relocating to a temporary spot at Comedy Bar’s new(ish) Danforth location in 2021, The Second City has settled into its new permanent home at One York Street, hosting its first public performance last month followed by a jam-packed holiday season. More than just a new performance space for the renowned comedy club, the shiny new location redefines the Second City experience. 

It is flashier, sleeker, fully accessible, and adds an elevated wining and dining element to the equation. 

The Second CityPhoto: Arthur Mola Photography

First announced in 2019, the new 28,700-sq.-ft flagship is located on the third floor of a 35-storey mixed-use Class AAA building at York and Harbour in Toronto’s vibrant South Core Business District. It’s celebrated as The Second City's largest, most state-of-the-art venue since the world class organization first opened its doors in Canada in 1973.

It houses three theatres and nine training centre studios for student classes and partner workshops. The Main Stage Theatre, equipped with an LED light system, offers a seating capacity of 244, while Theatre ’73 has room for 170 audience members. 

The Second CityArthur Mola Photography

Perhaps most notably, the new home takes its food and beverage offerings a step -- or 100 steps -- above the pub grub offered at Mercer Street. The new spot features a full-service restaurant and bar with food by Canadian hospitality leaders Oliver & Bonacini. 

“Our new home elevates what the experience of live comedy can be for our performers and guests,” says Carly Heffernan, Second City Toronto's creative director. “The theatres feature state-of-the-art lighting and sound, three full-service bars, and a restaurant right on site. Accessibility was built right into the design of the venue -- everything from the enhanced ventilation and the shared lift access to the backstage areas, to the capacity for augmented audio for patrons in the theatres.”

The Second CityArthur Mola Photography

Naturally, the new home is full of nods to the comedy institution’s rich past and the famous faces who have graced its stages. Its John Candy Box Theatre -- the student performance space -- will feature a portion of the original stage floorboards from The Second City’s circa-1974 home, The Old Firehall, which held legends such as John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Colin Mochrie, and Mike Myers.

While the nostalgic grit and years of storied history of the former location can’t be replaced, the shiny new space comes with a slew of upgrades for performers, students, and the audience. “Having huge, inviting social spaces for hanging out before and after classes and shows is a game-changer for us,” says Heffernan. “And those lakefront views are unbelievable.”

The Second CityArthur Mola Photography

Heffernan says that the response to the new space has been overwhelmingly positive. “Audience and performers alike are raving about the facilities, tickets are flying, and we’re seeing unprecedented class demand for the new year,” says Heffernan. “Already, we’re fielding intense interest in the space as a destination for corporate and group outings, special events, and signature entertainment.”

If the past is any indication of the future, the move will be a fruitful one for The Second City -- and it’s no stranger to relocation. The company opened its first Canadian location on Adelaide Street East in Toronto before moving into an old firehall downtown a year later. In 1997, it moved into its Mercer Street location, which is -- not surprisingly -- now the site of a new condo development.