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Dream Cafe founder turns focus to music on the eve of Penticton's Dream Music Festival

Dream Cafe founder Pierre Couture, left, with new general manager Steve Sheridan. Couture will focus on booking musical acts for the popular cafe and the Dream Music Festival.
May 12, 2016 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Sixteen years after The Dream Cafe opened in Penticton, the restaurant continues to captivate its patrons with its menu — and music.

The small restaurant has become the live music hot spot in the South Okanagan but has humble roots.

Manager Pierre Couture says he was storing the remains of his import-export business in a small retail space on Front Street in Penticton when he decided to open a small restaurant, intending to have a casual atmosphere where people could hang out and listen to music in the background. The restaurant also had a piano.

Over the the first four years, Couture says the business lost money because people came to eat, then stayed for hours to listen to the music.

With business partner Debra Rice, a decision was made to close the small restaurant. On the night of the intended closure, Front Street was full as people lined up to get in.

“We had more than 100 people that night. They were telling us ‘you can’t close, it’s not yours, it’s ours.’ Then they began handing us cheques,” Couture says.

One patron offered $30,000 to keep the business going.

With that kind of community support behind them, Couture and Rice moved to a larger location across the street.

After 2,000 dinner shows, Couture is stepping away from the business as Steve Sheridan takes on the day-to-day operations of the cafe, leaving Couture to continue booking musicians.

“If I were younger, I’d never sell. I’d keep it going the way it is,” says Couture, who last year turned the Dream Cafe into a cooperative with a membership exceeding 200.

He says some well known musicians have been part of the Dream Cafe scene over the years including Judy Collins, Jeff Healey and Murray McLaughlin.

Couture is also managing the Dream Music Festival, now in its second year, on May 13 and May 14 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Proceeds from the festival will go to the restaurant.

“I want to ensure the musicians get paid,” he says, adding musicians enjoy the cafe because the audience is respectful and it’s a comfortable venue for them to be seen and appreciated.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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