What’s on the menu at Peaches, Parkdale’s new queer-friendly sports bar with bubble hockey
Including hot dogs, nachos and pitchers of beer (but also steak and cocktails)
Name: Peaches Sports Bar
Contact: 1554 Queen St. W., 416-535-7777, @peachessportsbar
Previously: Tennessee Tavern
Owners: Veronica Saye and Anthony Fushell
Chef: Bennett Franklyn Jacobs
Accessibility: The entrance is accessible, but the washrooms are down a flight of stairs
In a lot of ways, Peaches is exactly what you’d expect from a sports bar—they’ve got hot dogs, they’ve got pitchers of beer, they’ve got flat-screen TVs on every wall. But they’re also finding ways to imbue the genre with something new. “We want to be all things to all people,” says Saye.
Saye and Fushell think of a sports bar as the ultimate communal experience—you instantly have something in common with the person beside you—and it was important for them to make this available to anyone. “We have outwardly said that we are a queer-friendly sports bar,” says Saye. “Going to sports bars is not always a queer-friendly experience—it can actually be the exact opposite. So, for us, it was important to acknowledge that.”
The two friends have shared a dream of opening a sports bar since they met in 2013. Earlier this year, Fushell, who had been working as a bartender at Bar Poet, called Saye to suggest that they get serious. They initially struggled to find a space—they wanted something high capacity, a true gathering spot—but all of the available places were either too small or too pricey. Then the old Tennessee Tavern space came up. It was huge, and Saye had previously been the manager there. They knew it was the one. “It was our dream space,” says Saye.
Their welcoming ethos extends to the menu. While Peaches has made thoughtful upgrades to classic sports fare, they haven’t ditched the accessible price point. “If you want to come in here and drink a cheap Coors Light and eat some wings and watch football, that’s what we want to be,” says Saye. “But if you want to come in and have a really nice old fashioned and a steak and watch a basketball game, we want to be that too.”
Jacobs, who’s a veteran of Chase Hospitality Group restaurants like Arthur’s and Kasa Moto, had one major upgrade in mind. “What I really wanted to convey through our menu is that sports food doesn’t have to be store-bought, pre-made stuff,” he says. “Generally, in higher-volume places, you kind of lose the sense that there’s care taken in the preparation. I wanted to bring that back by sourcing local ingredients wherever possible and really making the food shine.”
The result is a menu of upscale sports bar classics. The three signature hot dogs are perhaps the most iconic when it comes to sporty cuisine. But the menu reflects Peaches’ values in more subtle ways as well. The wide selection of apps and shareables is in line with Fushell and Saye’s desire to create a communal atmosphere, and it includes no-brainers like nachos and wings. Their New York striploin steak is done classically except when it comes to cost: while you could find a similar style of steak in the Financial District, says Jacobs, you won’t find this price anywhere else. “We tried to keep our margins down as close as we can,” says Jacobs. “We want this menu to be affordable for everybody.”
While brainstorming, the trio contemplated a fully Cajun-inspired menu. While they ultimately chose to focus simply on the best food for watching sports, that early idea pops up in elements like the signature Sporty Spice, a house take on a classic Cajun spice mix.
Peaches inherited the old-school wooden bar, a gorgeous antique that the owners of Tennessee Tavern had shipped up from a Polish Legion in Detroit. Along with the bar came 12 beer taps, half of which pour sports bar classics (Coors Lite, Heineken, Guinness) while the rest pour craft beers and more local selections. And, of course, everything can be turned into a pitcher. There are just as many canned and bottled options, from Miller High Life to a sour from PEC-based Matron.
Fushell and Saye wanted to add their own twist to the drink offerings, hence Peaches’ cocktail menu, a testament to the pair’s combined years of cocktail bar experience. “We just wanted to do simple classics but do them really well,” says Saye. “We also didn’t want to create an intimidating atmosphere by doing things that were too over the top.” Their bestseller so far? The Long Island iced tea.
Peaches is a camped-up version of an old-timey sports bar, with modern elements—like their bright-orange peach logo—balanced by hefty doses of nostalgia. “There are some golden eras that we really wanted to touch on,” says Saye.
One prominent reference is to the 1940s baseball team the Rockford Peaches, who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. They’re also the subjects of the 1992 movie A League of Their Own and the recently released miniseries of the same name. One dining room wall features a blown-up photo of the team, and there’s a second one downstairs.
Vintage football and baseball bobbleheads share space with liquor bottles on the back bar—they were childhood toys that Saye’s father gifted to Peaches. This kind of sports memorabilia abounds: faded baseball posters, vintage baseball mitts, a worn-in locker unit.
Of course, there are tons of TVs. But the games at Peaches go beyond broadcast viewing: scattered throughout the space are arcade games, bubble hockey, foosball and a pool table.