Nightlife in Penticton is about to perk up, with the doors of a former downtown hotspot reopening this weekend.
The Opal Nite Club is firing up the lights at the venue located at 535 Main St., which most recently was known as The Element.
“We want to revitalize the downtown scene,” said office manager Jane Watson. “This was the primary spot in town, so we want to bring it back to prominence and light up the night a little bit.”
The club itself is being leased from property owner John Vassilaki. He said the venue has a long history of being a great night spot in Penticton since it initially opened as a discotheque called Tiffany’s in 1977, which went on a successful run for 30 years before turning into the Element and then briefly Club 535. He said city council might spend millions to revitalize downtown, but if the people aren’t there it won’t make a difference. Vassilaki sees this as a great opportunity for the city.
“There is entertainment lacking in the downtown area of Penticton. At one time there use to be four nightclubs plus all the pubs, now there is only one,” said Vassilaki. “Between the now two places, they can bring some life into the downtown and show that there is actually people living in Penticton after 5:30 p.m. Right now after that time you can shoot a cannon down Main Street and you wouldn’t hit anything.”
Vassilaki likes that it is a family who will be running The Opal Nite Club because he thinks it will bring a certain philosophy of hard work and good management to the venue. He said The Mule found its success because the two business partners running the club are experienced, and now they have an application before city council asking to permit them to open their doors at noon. Vassilaki said this is all good news for putting more bodies downtown.
The Opal Nite Club office manager fell in love with Penticton as a young woman. Now a retired “hippie,” Watson finally has the opportunity to make it her home.
“The first time I came here was in 1967. We were backpacking across Canada and came through this way and I fell in love,” she said. “I absolutely adored it and I have been trying to get back here ever since. It is beautiful, charming and feels like home.”
Watson was picking fruit at the time of her first stop in Penticton. She now returns with her family from Manitoba and a business acumen that led them to an opportunity to open a nightclub.
Looking for something that would keep her husband (Paul Richardson) and adult son (Alexander Kin) off the highways long-haul trucking and closer to home, they searched the valley for a business that the whole family could be involved in. Richardson came across an MLS listing for a nightclub operation on Main Street in Penticton. They knew immediately it would be a perfect fit.
“This will be the first time our family will be involved in the hospitality trade, but we do have a lot of business experience and we do know how to have fun,” said Watson.
The Opal Nite Club has a website they are still developing and can be found on Facebook. Watson asks people to turn to social media to tell her what they want to see in the nightclub. She said they already have plans for theme night Thursdays, will be looking at bringing in live entertainment for Fridays and leave Saturdays open for strictly dancing. For the time being they are just cleaning up the club and plan on doing renovations after the summer season when they get a feel for what the public wants.
“I want to know what people want from us, what makes them comfortable and what makes them feel safe. Most of the changes and renovations to this place will reflect that. We will add our own flair, but we want people to tell us what they want in nightlife entertainment,” said Watson.
The Opal Nite Club will be open for the long weekend (including Monday) from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Following that, they will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year.