The Railway Club, an iconic Vancouver music venue which closed last year, is set to reopen — albeit in a new guise. After nearly a year of sitting empty, the venue has been leased by a group including Jeff Donnelly (of the Donnelly Group of pubs) and partner Chad Cole. The group has confirmed they will be reopening the space.
The news was welcomed by music fans but tempered by the announcement it would not be reopening as The Railway Club. Instead, the venue will have a new name and a new format. Although it will again be a live music space, it will not be exclusively a space for live music.
“We’re not going to keep the Railway Club name because it’s not going to be the Railway Club unfortunately anymore,” said Damon Holowchak, director of marketing for the Donnelly Group, as reported by the Georgia Straight. “It’s going to be pay tribute to the Railway Club as much as we can, but it would do a disservice to the Railway Club if we called it that.”
The Railway Club had long since cemented its place as a legend in the Vancouver live music scene by the time it closed in the Spring of 2016. It had been open for 84 years, and in that time, had played host to countless live acts.
Holowchack went on to stress that the new owners are aware of the Railway Club’s local importance, saying: “We don’t want to lose the essence of what it was. Anything that we can’t use we’re going to donate to the Vancouver Museum, which has already shown interest in some components of the space. We really want to preserve the legacy.”
That legacy remains undimmed in the hearts of many local bands, such as the Brass Action — a local ska group who played the venue 26 times and produced a YouTube video to memorialize the venue when it closed.