From left, Kung Shu members guitarist Ian Shu, drummer Wizard and bass player Dave Brown pose for a photo before their set at Officials Sports Lounge on Jan. 12 as part of Officials Sports Lounge’s farewell concert series that will wrap up on Saturday, Jan. 19. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Ucluelet says goodbye to town’s only sports bar

“It started off big and we’re on the backside of the mountain now.”

The end of an era will become official on Saturday.

Officials Sports Lounge is shutting down after a decade of service.

The lounge earned Ucluelet’s Business of the Year award last year in recognition of co-owners Dale Holliday and Ray Godfrey’s quick willingness to host fundraising events for a variety of local causes. Facing declining sales, though, Holliday and Godfrey made the decision not to renew their lease this year.

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“It’s rapidly deteriorated. The bar business isn’t what it used to be. People just don’t go out and spend that kind of money anymore and the cost of alcohol has increased thanks to our lovely government,” Godfrey said.

He added a change in regulations that allowed restaurants to serve alcohol later in the evening and without a food requirement also hurt the bar business.

“It just seemed to be one thing after another that kept it sliding.”

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The pair opened Officials in 2008. Holliday had spent the previous six years managing the Eagle’s Nest Pub and said his first priority for Officials was to “provide a safe environment.”

“When we first opened, that was our key, a place where everybody could be safe and relaxed,” he said.

Godfrey added the idea for a sports bar was hatched because the community did not have one at the time and they wanted to create “something new on the plate for everybody.”

They had originally hoped to call their spot ‘Total Action Sports,’ but discovered that name was taken and went with Officials because, “There is always an official in every sport,” Holliday explained.

“It was super popular in 2008,” he said. “It started off big and we’re on the backside of the mountain now.”

He noted that he and wife Jacqueline travelled across Canada to watch their son Maxtin compete at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games last summer and witnessed many bars like theirs shutting down.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Ucluelet cheers Special Olympic gold medalist

Jacqueline, who enjoyed hosting popular dinner theatre events at the lounge, said Officials is how she was introduced to the community when she arrived from Alberta.

“That was part of the charm of being here and having a gathering space like this, it’s a little bit of an introduction to town, an introduction to a lot of people that live here and a comfort zone,” she said. “I don’t feel a loss just because it was Dale and Ray’s bar and that’s part of my family, I feel the loss because I don’t see where we have that…We’re losing that comfort space for adults and for just adults.”

Godfrey said there’s no regret in the decision to shut down, but it will be sad to see Officials close.

“I just think it’s a double sided coin really. Dale and I have both talked and we’re happy to see it go, but we know in the end we’ll probably be a bit sad too because it is a place where everybody comes and hangs out,” he said. “The end of something is never a good thing or a bad thing, I think, it’s just the way it’s flowed.”

He said he’s grateful for the community’s support.

“They’ve definitely supported us over the years. It’s just a sign of the times,” Godfrey said. “You drive to any small town and bars are just washing up.”

“Thanks, Ukee, for everything…” Holliday added.

The bar’s final last call will be called on Jan. 19 after one last hurrah highlighted by live music from the Lance LaPointe Band.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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