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COVID-19 forces local bar to close

The Corral has closed its doors due to the pandemic after 37 years of business in Oshawa. (Photo by Chris Jones)

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

It was the place to go on Tuesday nights.

With a full house inside eating, drinking and dancing to live country music, another 600 people would be lined up outside around the building just waiting to get in.

The Corral has seen some of the best “A-List Bands” to perform live on stage over the years. More than 200 framed photos can be seen behind the glass all around the bar of bands that have played there in the past. Some of the most noted include Terri Clark, Johnny Reid, Emerson Drive, James Barker Band, The Wilkinson’s and many more.

However, after more than 37 years of bringing entertainment to Oshawa, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the establishment to close its doors for good.

“After an amazing 37 year run, the pandemic as well as exorbitant insurance costs have forced us to make this difficult decision,” says Al Majewski, who has owned the establishment for the last two years with his business partner, Cindy Chandler, long-time manager of the bar. He says the bar has been closed since the pandemic began in mid-March.

Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Majewski says they’re “completely bummed” about having to close the doors.

“We’ve hung on for long enough. These last few months have been extremely painful,” he says.

“Coming to this final decision was a big deal. We didn’t want to close the doors. It’s The Corral for goodness sakes. But one month lead into the next and it got worse and worse.”

He says the outpouring of support from the community has been “absolutely amazing.”

“The Corral… you can tell that it’s a place that was loved,” he says. “The people that go there love to be there, and they love the energy. It has its own energy, its own vibe.”

Majewski’s first experience at The Corral was about 25 years ago as a DJ.

“I was asked to play there one night because the band couldn’t show,” he says. “I wasn’t very knowledgeable of country music and I was nervous, but I played and the owner at the time really liked me and asked me to stay on.”  He would DJ at The Corral for the next 16 years.

Majewski left for eight years, and then two years ago, Chandler contacted him and told him the bar was for sale.

“I had just retired from my job where I worked for 37 years, and I loved that bar,” he says.

In his statement to the community, which he says was shared about 3,990 times within the first 24 hours, he acknowledges all those who have called The Corral home.

“People have met and married here. Artists have started their career here,” he writes. “We want to thank all those have called The Corral their place to hang. It is indeed the end of an era.”