Owner of three popular Toronto bars, including Death and Taxes, files for creditor protection

May 25 2023, 7:33 pm

The Vancouver-based company that owns three popular downtown Toronto bars as well as a Muskoka dispensary has filed for creditor protection.

Freehouse Collective, formerly known as the Donnelly Group, owns dozens of restaurants and bars in Vancouver and Toronto, as well as a brewery and a chain of cannabis dispensaries.

But after pandemic-related financial struggles, the company initiated Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act proceedings in BC on Tuesday. It owes a combined total of more than $20 million on its lines of credit, to its landlords, and on unpaid taxes.

The three Toronto bars named in court documents are:

  • Death and Taxes
  • Belfast Love
  • Walrus Pub and Beer Hall

Harrison Stoker, chief growth officer with Freehouse Collective, told Daily Hive the company initiated CCAA proceedings in an effort to restructure and retain its 800+ staff as well as its myriad businesses. It hopes to find a more lenient repayment plan with its primary lender, Bank of Montreal.

“This is very much aimed at being a constructive versus destructive journey,” Stoker said. “This will be a survivor’s story.”

While Freehouse is keen on keeping its hospitality businesses open, it’s already begun selling off its cannabis dispensaries — operated by Lightbox Enterprises under the brand name Dutch Love.

The Dutch Love location in Parry Sound, Ontario, was recently sold to SNDL Inc. along with three other locations in Vancouver. SNDL is a Calgary-based firm that owns several cannabis dispensary locations and liquor stores.

Stoker told Daily Hive that SNDL will need to rebrand the four Dutch Love locations it purchased, as another buyer is in the process of acquiring the IP for the brand as well as several other locations.

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