The six patio seats are a far cry from the 80-person capability flooring the Kino Cafe was used to filling earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.
As soon as a bustling hub for flamenco dancers and up-and-coming standup comics, it is now a cash pit for proprietor Steve Allen — the monetary pressure sufficient to make him wave the white flag after years of selling vibrant performances.
“Mainly, it killed the Kino,” mentioned Allen. “With no performances in right here, the stage is a really lonely place.”
The Kino Cafe on Cambie Avenue is the most recent casualty in a rising listing of eating places, pubs and golf equipment unable to make ends meet amid mounting public well being measures in response to the pandemic. Most not too long ago, the province banned indoor eating to curb a spike in instances. These measures have been prolonged till at the very least Could 25.
Homeowners like Allen are confronted with a troublesome choice: attempt to climate the storm or shut up store.
“There’s simply no finish in sight with this pandemic and opening full capability once more. I haven’t got any concept when that is going to occur once more, and I do not assume anybody does,” mentioned Allen.
The cafe is now on the market and has already caught the attention of potential patrons. However Allen says it is unlikely whoever takes over will stick with it with its longstanding custom of efficiency artwork.
A long time of dance and laughs
The Kino Cafe has been open in Vancouver for practically 30 years, a flamenco establishment lengthy earlier than Allen owned it. Flamenco is a mode of conventional music and dance that originated in Spain.
Allen was an everyday patron, finally selling a weekly comedy present from the venue.
The restaurant’s earlier homeowners put it up on the market, however the patrons backed out because of licensing points, Allen mentioned. That is when he jumped in.
“I believed, you already know what, I can afford to take a danger and hopefully save the comedy and the flamenco,” he mentioned. “I actually felt this place must be saved. That is the most important stage for flamenco exterior of Spain, on the planet. And I did not know that till I purchased the place.”
Allen saved the custom alive, alongside his weekly comedy present the place many comics have honed their craft — a listing that features Graham Clark, Ivan Decker and Dino Archie.
‘It is not gonna be sufficient’
Well being restrictions have taken a toll on the membership over the previous yr, nevertheless. First, the province put restrictions on dwell music and dance. The membership tried to make ends meet by working standup comedy occasions to diminished crowds, however these have been later restricted as nicely.
In an try to assist maintain the doorways open, native comedians launched a fundraiser to “Save the Kino.”
On the time, Suzy Rawsome, who runs the comedy nights on the Caveman Cafe in downtown Vancouver, informed CBC Information that Kino has been one of many metropolis’s most essential establishments as different venues have come and gone over time.
“The Kino is a kind of locations that is just like the OG of comedy in Vancouver,” Rawsome mentioned in December 2020. “I really feel actually unhealthy for him to need to take care of impending closure when he is taking all this on, principally only for the love of the humanities.”
They raised about $17,000 of their $50,000 aim.
“As a lot because it’s helped, it is not gonna assist sufficient,” mentioned Allen.
Down however not out
Till the enterprise sells, Allen will maintain the patio open on sunny days.
Nonetheless outfitted with a PA system and scores of unique artwork that lined the partitions, Allen says he hopes to open a brand new membership as soon as the pandemic settles.
He might even deliver again the Kino identify — so long as whoever he sells his enterprise to would not use it.
“I’ve such a ardour for standup. I actually wish to maintain doing this.”