Special to the Western News
When you take in dinner and a show at The Dream Café chances are you’ll pick up on two things: the eclectic menu and an eclectic mood.
“It’s a casual restaurant that brings in the most incredible music,” said co-owner Pierre Couture.
“People are here as much for the music as they are for the food and vice-versa.”
In April, the Front Street restaurant will be celebrating a decade of great food, paired with great entertainment.
The café began 13 years ago as a small import business located at another Front Street location and eventually morphed into a restaurant.
Couture said it began when he was inviting musicians – friends and others he knew – to come and play and then, he began booking performers in advance.
Soon, they were looking for a larger venue as the combination of food and entertainment quickly became a big hit with clientele.
“We wanted musicians to get paid for being there,” said Couture.
“The only way that we could do that was to have our clientele pay for it. So far, we’re still here.”
He can still remember the first band he booked at the original location, Willie & Lobo, a musical duo composed of Willie Royal and Wolfgang “Lobo” Fink. To date the duo has sold out nearly 80 dates at the cafe.
Jeff Healey and the Jazz Wizards was the first band booked at the current location and performed for five consecutive nights — and it remains at the top of Couture’s list of memorable bookings.
The success of the shows held in the intimate setting of the 100-seat restaurant became obvious.
“We’d post a show and it would be sold out in a couple of days,” said Couture. “We have a very strong e-mail following, so that’s how the shows are marketed to this day.”
The restaurant has an inventory of about 1,800 names and sends out information on upcoming performers and links to their music and then takes bookings from people on its list.
“This way we know, every time we send out a booking, we know how many hits we have and everything just falls into place.”
Couture said that in recent years it’s more challenging to sell out than in previous years however he’s still able to provide audiences with many top-notch shows that include a myriad of talented local musicians.
“We feature a lot of local people,” he said and added these have become its most popular, selling out faster than bigger-name acts.
“A local guy, Shane Koyczan (is) absolutely incredible. He’s a poet. Using the word poet doesn’t justify what he is. He’s an amazing human being, so it’s nice to have him in town.”
Colin Hay, the former frontman with Australia’s Men at Work, is also among Couture’s personal favourites. Hay has returned every second year since the restaurant opened.
Couture said they’ve always done their homework before booking anyone and they’ve been able to offer a variety of entertainers, from mezzo-sopranos to poets to blues performers.
He credited audiences for always being respectful of performers, which is another reason they keep returning.
Another unique feature of the restaurant is its size; performers also enjoy the small, quaint venue which creates a more intimate experience for everyone.
“We wanted to offer an alternative to what was out there,” said Couture.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with what’s out there; we saw an opening for something that was little bit different.”
For more information on upcoming shows, call 250-490-9012 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.