The last dance forRed Deer’s two largest and longest-serving nightclubs will be next week: Longriders Saloon and Bellinis Sonic Lounge are closing on Jan 21.
Just over 50 mostly part-time employees of the two clubs received two-week lay-off notices on Jan. 7. “It is with deepest regret that we must notify you of this decision,” state the letters from O’Chiese Hospitality Limited Partnership.
Staff of more than five years at the clubs are to receive three weeks of severance pay. But some employees have been working at Longriders and/or Bellinis for more than 20 years.
News of the nightclubs’ demise leaked out last fall after the owners applied for demo permits from the City of Red Deer.
This caused an outpouring of commiseration from many Red Deer residents, who waxed nostalgic about their misspent youths at the local dance spots.
“This is a sad, sad world that we can no longer go and listen to electronic music and dance to our hearts content, but it was soon to come… I guess we all just have to conform and live in misery,” one disheartened person wrote on Reddit.
“This will put the nail in the coffin for nightlife in Red Deer,” said another Reddit user.
The two nightclubs clubs are located in the recently renamed Red Deer Resort and Casino (formerly the Cambridge Hotel and Capri Centre.) The property is now owned by O’Chiese Hospitality Limited. Partnership.
The hotel owners plan to demolish the clubs so that Jackpot Casino can be relocated to the Red Deer Resort from its current downtown site.
No timeline has yet been announced for the demo or the casino move.
Representatives of O’Chiese Hospitality Limited Partnership and the Red Deer Resort and Casino were unavailable to comment this week about whether a new space would be built on the site of the two dance clubs, or if it would be used for additional parking.
Last spring, Jackpot Casino’s CEO, Georges Yammine, explained that the gambling establishment is outgrowing its downtown site at Ross Street and 47th Avenue, and needs more close-by parking. As both the hotel and casino are owned by the O’Chiese Hospitality Partnership, it makes sense to have them under one roof, he added, noting this feasibility has been considered since 2017.
The former Cambridge Hotel has more space, parking and more amenities, such as entertainment rooms.
Yammine stated the casino’s owners feel there’s great potential at the hotel’s location to attract more business, including tourists and people attending business conferences.
He felt the benefits would spill over into the community with $11 million in new construction, more money raised for local charities, more concerts, job creation and taxation.