'A very demanding mistress:' Unique North Okanagan cafe to close after 24 years | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'A very demanding mistress:' Unique North Okanagan cafe to close after 24 years

Dressed-up and ready to appear in a music video, Lorne Costley sits at the bar of Lorenzo's Cafe. After 24-years, he's finally calling it a day.
September 30, 2019 - 7:00 AM

ENDERBY - A little over four years ago iNFOnews.ca visited Lorenzo's Cafe and reported how the music venue tucked in the trees 10 kilometres from Enderby down a back road was up for sale.

After 20 years, the iconic North Okanagan music venue was up for sale, its owner Lorne Costley saying the time had come for him to go to "somebody else's party."

Fast-forward four years and with no buyer found, Costley is now forced to close the venue he's run for 24 years, having its final night with a blow out party on Halloween, and again saying he wants to go to "somebody else's party."

"It was for sale and everybody said I'd love to have that and I wish I could buy that," Costley said.

And while Costley says there was lots of interest, ultimately, no one bought it, so he took it off the market and carried on running it. Until one month ago he made the tough decision to call it a day.

"I've always felt obligated to carry on because I built the place," Costley says. "I do have a choice, I don't have to do this until I die... and I just decided, I don't have to keep doing this."

Nestled in among the trees a 10-minute drive towards Mabel Lake from Enderby, Costley opened Lorenzo's Cafe in 1996. Over the years he converted the 1919 schoolhouse, that he purchased in 1990, and made it into what it is today - a cozy and eclectic 120-person capacity music venue, which has seen thousands of bands from all over the world pass-through over the years.

It's remarkable that a music venue would exist in such a location, let alone manage to stay afloat and run for almost a quarter of a century.

"The location is difficult, but that's also why people like it, it's why I like it," he says.

Costley also credits a few other things.

"Blind optimism, being ignorant and naive helps too," he says. "And a tenacious attitude about just making it happen."

"I was invested in it big time and I had faith that it could happen and it could work out and often it does. I brought the best of the city to the country with the music I've had here over the years," he says.

Walking up the old wooden steps that lead into Lorenzo's it's hard not to be wooed by the building's charm. There's a faint whiff of marijuana in the air and opening the door the cafe is filled with smoke from a smoke machine.

The band Dirt Road Opera is filming a music video in the intimate venue. It's not hard to see why they chose Lorenzo's as a location for the shoot.

The walls are adorned with photos and pictures that offer a brief glimpse into the history that took place there.

"(People) walk in that door and they feel comfortable and relaxed like somebody's living room," Costley said.

Through that coziness, Costley has made plenty of friends, witnessed amazing live music, and seen plenty of relationships form.

"It's been a big part of my life for a long time, I've gone through a few relationships, I like to say Lorenzo's is a very demanding mistress."

And Costley is only weeks away from cutting ties with that mistress.

"I'm cutting my expenses down by 90 per cent, and the anxiety and the stress and the pressure," he says. "I'm almost 70 years old and there's a lot of things I want to do yet."

And even after such a long time running Lorenzo's, Costley says his passion for the music hasn't waned.

"When I'm hearing a killer band and people are dancing and enjoying themselves it reminds me that's why I'm doing it in the first place."

"It's been a very rewarding enterprise and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I haven't regretted a minute of it, it's been a great experience," he says adding, "Being an old schoolhouse, it's taught me a lot."

For more information go here.

Through the haze of a smoke machine the Dirt Road Opera shoot a music video at Lorenzo's Cafe.
Through the haze of a smoke machine the Dirt Road Opera shoot a music video at Lorenzo's Cafe.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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