Dale Boyd, The Elite open mic night host, spotted through some of the retro-decor while entertaining the crowd on the final night before the oldest restaurant in Penticton closed. Brennan Phillips/Western News

Video: Historic Penticton restaurant closes

Bittersweet ending for open mic night patrons and musicians in Penticton

It was a bittersweet ending for Penticton’s oldest restaurant, The Elite, on Saturday night.

While the place was jam-packed for the open mic night, it would be the final one that will fill the 70s-decor restaurant.

Related: Walking through Penticton’s past

The Elite is closing, details of the sale are not currently available, but general manager Kirk Watson said it happened very quickly.

“We have known for about two weeks that it was sold, but out of respect for the owner who sold it and the new people coming in — I can’t really say much. It just happened really fast, one day we were open and the next we weren’t,” said Watson. “I just really want to thank everyone for the memories and supporting us.”

Having worked at The Elite in various roles over the past three years, Watson said he is going to miss the camaraderie of the regular customers.

“I’m going to miss the stories people would tell on a daily basis about the place. The little old woman who would come in for fries in the 50s, or the elderly couple that met there and would continue to go on dates at The Elite. Those stories are priceless and one of the things I will miss most for sure,” said Watson. “We have also had some really great bands come through like the Hillside Outlaws, the Heatscore — music venues like The Elite are few and far between now.”

All is not lost for those who want to get out to a venue and jam.

A donation jar was set up on The Elite’s final night and open mic host Dale Boyd plans on purchasing some of the equipment used on stage at The Elite.

“We are going to call it the Penticton Elite … it’s going to move forward. We are going to keep this momentum going. There is plenty of areas around downtown and other areas in Penticton. We are going to give it shot and rotate the stage, wherever that may be, and keep the music going, keep the dream alive.”

“It’s kind of had it’s ups and downs, but over the last year, we’ve got a really good collective is the word we have been choosing to use of Penticton musicians and there are a lot of great local musicians.”

Boyd, and many of the artists up on the stage on the final night, couldn’t say enough about the people who supported The Elite and the live music that could be found on their stage weekly.

The Elite Restaurant in Penticton is now closed permanently after hosting their final open mic night on Nov. 10. Brennan Phillips/Western News Staff

“It’s tough to get people out every week and we had to deal with that but again, a really good music community in Penticton so it made it easy. The calibre of talent that we started with and having played together for a year, has just been awesome. we just all got better. My personal final thought is, I was nervous enough to come out the first few times and general manager Kirk Watson was like ‘Hey do you want to host one time?’ That has been the whole attitude. ‘Hey, do you want play?’, ‘Do you want to play drums?’ So that is the spirit we are going to try to keep going,” said Boyd.

Related: Christmas heroes volunteer time, energy to feed community

Not only a place to go to listen to live music on the weekends, The Elite has been a staple in the downtown core since the 1930s. The various owners have also been strong community partners, offering dinners to those in need during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Watson said he will spend the next few weeks cleaning the place out from the kitchen to the various Penticton memorabilia that hangs on the walls. He said everything will be up for sale and anticipates that on Saturday, Nov. 17, there will be a viewing for the public to come in to purchase some of the items that haven’t already been claimed.

— With files from Brennan Phillips/Western News

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