Paul Richardson checks the taps at the bar at the Opal Nite Club just prior to its opening in May. Formerly Tiffany's and more recently the Element

Opal nightclub loses shine as owners leave town

Penticton’s newest nightclub has shut its doors after just five months in operation

Penticton’s newest nightclub has shut its doors after just five months in operation.

The owners of the Opal, at 535 Main St., gave no sign they were planning to close the club when they appeared before Penticton city council Monday evening, pleading for the city’s support to expand their hours of operation.

But a day later the club was closed, and the family who owned it had left town in search of work, according to John Vassilaki, who owns the building.

“They just informed me today they will be closing down,” said Vassilaki on Wednesday. “I know they went looking for jobs in Alberta, because they’ve got to live on something. They have obligations to pay bills and one thing and another.”

Vassilaki isn’t sure if the closure is permanent. Nor is he aware if the owners were in financial trouble, but did say he isn’t owed any rent.

“I don’t know if they are shutting down temporarily or if they are going to open up again in the spring,” he said. “Probably not forever, because they didn’t ask for me to take the licence back.”

The Opal was just the latest club to occupy the venue, which has a history stretching back to 1977, when the Tiffany’s discotheque opened and began a 30-year run, before turning into the Element and then Club 535.

Vassilaki said times have changed since Penticton supported four night clubs and assorted pubs.

“There were four-and-a-half, really. And we all had lineups,” he said. “There just wasn’t enough business this year for two nightclubs in Penticton. We don’t have enough young people to go around.”

Society has changed, Vassilaki continued, as has the way people drink.

“Everything has slowed down that has to do with alcohol,” said Vassilaki.

The Opal’s application for extended hours was intended to put them on a even playing field with the Mule nightclub, whose licence allows it to operate noon to 3 a.m.

Alexander Kin, one of the owners, told council they wanted to be an integral part of the Penticton night life, and that extending the hours would enhance their ability “to provide food and fun in an atmosphere which will include many varieties of performances.”

Over the summer, the club offered a variety of entertainment, ranging from live music and comedians to exotic dancers.

Kin went on to tell council of their plans to run the Opal as a pub from 4 to 9 p.m., followed by a show until 1 a.m. and dancing until the new closing hour of 3 a.m. They also planned to offer the club as a venue for birthdays, staff parties, wedding receptions and family reunions.

“We would like our options to be as open as possible,” said Jane Watson, Kin’s mother and part of the ownership group. “We need to keep our options open in order to remain viable. I think that is an important part of what we are asking for.”

Vassilaki isn’t sure if the family is planning to reopen when the province approves the changes to the licence.

“It usually takes about a month to two months for that to come through Victoria. We don’t know what is going to happen when they get that licence, how soon they will be opening,” said Vassilaki, noting the owners hadn’t asked to break the lease.  “It’s unfortunate that some people can make it and others can’t.”

Attempts to contact Watson via phone and email have not been successful.

 

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