If there’s an architectural trend we can all stand behind, it would surely be the one aimed at reclaiming, repurposing and revitalizing glorious former factories and industrial buildings. These unique spaces—typically of the brick-and-beam variety if built before the 1950s—are like open canvases; the options to customize them are virtually limitless. It’s no surprise, then, that they’ve become the setting-of-choice for everyone from tech start-ups to retailers and other companies looking to attract top young talent. And as the Jam Factory continues to remind us, they’ve also come into vogue as rustically elegant event spaces.
Located just east of Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway in the ultra-trendy Riverside neighbourhood—and located on a piece of land that affords unobstructed views of the city’s downtown core (with no threat of sightline-obscuring development thanks to its proximity to the city’s least-preferred freeway)—the Jam Factory began its life in the 1870s as the production facility for the long-defunct Sheriff Jam Company.
Over the years the space fell into disrepair and in its most recent incarnations saw it converted into an event space before being repurposed once more as a co-working facility. It was abandoned again, and that’s when when Kristin Light and her business partner Shannon Refvik, the duo behind Refvik and Light Productions, stumbled on what they saw as a 3,000 sq. ft. of brick-and-bream opportunity.
“It was partially renovated and left there with piles of floorboards and floors ripped up,” Light recalls. “It was a travesty that the space was just left like this.”
Refvik and Light leveraged their event-planning and corporate marketing backgrounds to develop a comprehensive vision for the venue. The Jam Factory would be a multi-purpose space, they decided, hosting everything from dog yoga on weekdays (no, really, it’s amazing and you absolutely have to check it out) to gala weddings and corporate events. Their annual Mardi Gras party soon became one of the city’s hottest tickets.
They opened in February, 2017, and have been a top pick for event planners and caterers ever since.
We absolutely love the venue because of its capacity to be virtually anything to anyone. If a Kiss the Cook client wants a traditional wedding, the Jam Factory is well-suited to the task. If they’re looking for an avant garde space for something completely out of the box, it works just as well. OK, we admit it—the attractively worn brick work, idyllic sunsets and waterfall of light that flood the space during the day and at dusk are just a few other BIG reasons why we regularly recommend the venue to our clients.
“What we love about the space is there’s nothing about it that screams ‘wedding’ or ‘bar,’ according to Light. “It hits a sweet spot about what you want it to be.”
Case in point: when tech firm Hoot Suite was looking for a spot to host one of their company parties, they turned to Light and Refvik’s venue for inspiration. Intent on blowing their employees’ and clients’ minds, the company converted the space into a ‘cottage’ with floor-to-ceiling trees, an awesome dockside playlist and other fun elements reminiscent of a Muskoka weekend. At this year’s Mardi Gras party, the duo tapped an eight-piece jazz band, set up a pancake station and included a tarot reader to make their signature event even more unforgettable than usual. On another occasion, a couple wanted a very memorable wedding and opted for a punk theme. They brought in a graffiti wall to use as a backdrop at photo time and did a crowd surf for their first dance.
We told you the space is versatile!
It’s also simultaneously intimate and large enough to welcome major events. With a capacity of 160 for plated dinners, the Jam Factory can host up to 200 people for cocktail receptions such as corporate brand launches.
Despite their early success, Refvik and Light haven’t been happy to rest on their laurels. They’re in the final stages of an extensive renovation that will see the introduction of a full catering and preparation kitchen (yay!), as well as five gender-neutral washroom stalls. The main room also features a 12-foot bar (or two six-foot lengths) designed by Pipe and Wood Designs and built from reclaimed wood and old floorboards that were left unloved during an earlier renovation.
On any given day you might find visitors enjoying that aforementioned dog yoga (owners do a pose and the next one involves the dog—and disaster doesn’t ensue!), social events, or fashion shows in the mixed-use environment. Light and Refvik also co-own a dance company, which explains why the Jam Factory has become a major draw for the city’s dance community. In fact, the duo regularly partners with Burn Down the Capital’s Todd Michalak, who produces the popular Feast In the East—a renowned bi-monthly food/music/art series for the city’s east end—to stage innovative dance and art shows.
With a team of 10 event staff including managers, bartenders and security personnel, Refvik and Light have created a special atmosphere that’s helped redefine the potential of gorgeous industrial-era venues such as theirs. Together, they deliver the kind of outstanding customer service and event expertise that leaves clients wanting more.
“When you contact the Jam Factory, you get me and Shannon, not a faceless team,” Light says. “Because we come from the event planning side, we understand our clients’ needs and I think that sets us apart.
“It’s a personal approach. We get to know each client personally and we care deeply about each event. We love attending them as much as planning them.” It’s that amazing attitude that resonates with us here at Kiss the Cook!
Fia Pagnello, founder
Want to book an event at the Jam Factory? Contact us now!