By Noor Khwaja
VANCOUVER – One of the city’s most historic and iconic gems, the Railway Club, has been reborn after its unfortunate closure in March of last year. After its 84-year tenure, the space has been revamped by new owners and is now called the Railway Stage and Beer Café, combining live entertainment with local beer. Speaking with the Donnelly Group’s Chad Cole, the managing director of the new venue, it is clear that important elements of its former inhabitant have been lovingly preserved.
“We tried to keep the bones of the place as-is just to maintain the history of the Railway Club,” he says. “The biggest change is adding a 24 Kraft Beer lineup that’s rotating local craft beers and then adding a state-of-the-art sound system, which makes the sound absolutely beautiful.”
With changes to the sound systems and other minor alterations to help give “the place a little bit of a facelift,” the Railway Stage and Beer Café aims to be “a comfortable venue where you can come in and enjoy a great beer and experience awesome music.” There will be live entertainment five days a week, showcasing local indie bands Wednesday through Saturday, and comedy on Tuesdays. While local “up-and-comers that are breaking the scene” are the target entertainment of the venue, there will be occasional headliners and ticketed performances. Cole explains that “depending on who’s rolling through town,” the stage will aim to have a headlining act about once every two months.
In terms of live entertainment spaces, Cole mentions, “It’s a tough market.” However, he is positive that if the marketing and booking of bands is done with care, “you can make a venue really thrive.” As stages similar to the Railway continue to shut down around the city, it is important to acknowledge the vitality of their existence. Local talent needs to have venues much like the Railway to, in a sense, act as gateway stages to bigger venues in their futures. “I do feel that the city is lacking in spaces like this,” Cole adds.
The Railway Stage and Beer Café opened with a bang last month, with a successful headlining performance from favourite local band the Zolas. So, faithful patrons, don’t fear: the new and “brightened up” venue maintains the heart of the old club, including the long bar stretching the length of the room and the train. With changes in modernity and the inclusion of local beer and lunch specials, the Railway Stage and Beer Café has a promising future indeed.
The Railway Stage and Beer Café is located at 579 Dunsmuir Street.Donnelly Group, Railway Club, Railway Stage and Beer Cafe, The Donnelly Group, The Railway Club