Help save Sweaty Bettys from closing its doors

   May Brand is the owner of Sweaty
Betty’s, a 17 year old west end Toronto
institution, one of the first bars on the
now trendy Ossington Strip and still
independently owned.

May has over 20 years in the industry,
having started out bartending at some of queer Toronto’s best known institutions, including the Gladstone Hotel and
The Beaver.  May started out managing
Sweaty Betty’s in 2008, and worked
tirelessly for a decade to maintain its
cool dive bar esthetic in an increasingly
gentrified neighbourhood.

 In 2018, May had the opportunity to
purchase the bar and take over as owner, a longtime dream of hers. Since then
she’s infused the cool punk/tattooed
esthetic of the bar with her own touches. She’s made sure to maintain the classic
dive bar feel, with mismatched furniture, neon signs, and eclectic movies playing
on the TV.  There’s a “Wall of Dames”
showcasing some of May’s favourite
women in music. There’s also a “Horror Wall” with photos of her favourite horror films. Friday the 13th is celebrated as a
special holiday, and Cher and Dolly
Parton get regular rotation on the

May’s poured her blood, sweat and tears into keeping this iconic bar a safe space
for everyone, especially since there are
so few queer spaces in the west end of
the city. Her “If you are racist,
homophobic, transphobic, or just an
asshole, don’t come in here!” sign on the
front door is as iconic to the bar as the
red lighting, vintage couches, and custom red heart neon sign in the front window. 

May is well known and loved in both the queer community and bar industry, and
she’s made Sweaty’s the success that it is today.

The bar is very much like May - friendly,
no bullshit, no tolerance for assholes,
covered in tattoos and always ready to
share a shot of whiskey with you.  

When I first stepped into Sweaty Betty’s, I had no idea that seven years later I
would have made one of my closest
friends today. I see how May Brand is
with everyone, not only me. She’s always making regulars feel like new friends,
she’s hiring friends who lost their jobs in the pandemic, and she’s always far too
generous with her big heart. She’s made
sure Sweaty Betty’s could help out many charities along the way, such as Toronto Humane Society, Sistering and the
Fort York Food Bank. Now is the time
that we need to come together as a
community and help her, and help save
this amazing bar.

There was a lot of work needed to be put in place for Covid safety precautions
such as $15,000 in renos when she
re-opened in the summer. She also had to replace the front window just before the Toronto lockdown began, which set her
back quite a bit financially. There has
been next to no government or other
help for her along the way. She
is drowning in debt and she really needs our help now. We want this special space to be there when we can safely get back
to normal again. 

All funds raised will be used for rent and utilities, which haven’t been easy to pay
since the bar has been closed for nearly 6 months this year.  The funds raised will
help the bar stay alive over the winter

I have become quite close to her and her chosen family. I’ve made many friendships and memories at Sweaty Betty's and
my is hope that this can continue for
us all - for the regulars who drop in after work, the weekend first dates,
the birthdays on the patio, the annual
holiday parties, and those pickle backs
on the bar crawls. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Any donations will help May hopefully
relax knowing she doesn’t have to do this all on her own anymore.  

With love,
Jessica Thomson



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  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 2 d
  • Sarah Deziel 
    • $100 
    • 6 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 8 d
  • Johnny Ryan 
    • $60 
    • 1 mo
  • Francesca Ferrara 
    • $40 
    • 1 mo
See all

Fundraising team (3)

Jessica Thomson 
Raised $3,489 from 51 donations
Toronto, ON
May Brand 
Michelle Bodner 
Team member
Raised $2,215 from 27 donations
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