After more than 34 years in business, Gabby’s Country Cabaret has succumbed to the mounting financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.
Late Tuesday night, owner Steve Gallagher took to social media to announce the permanent closure of the bar and live entertainment venue in its current location, 20297 Fraser Hwy.
“We didn’t want to go out this way – that’s for sure,” Gallagher told the Langley Advance Times.
“It wasn’t an abrupt decision… I just didn’t see it working, he explained. “We had a chance to get out and we had to take it. We had to stop the bleeding at some point in time. I think we’re one of many that are going to follow after us. I don’t see how people can keep paying the bills without any money coming in.”
Gallagher did confirm the building was sold to a developer last year, but that didn’t weigh into the decision to close.
“The building had been sold prior but we had an agreement,” he said. “We could have been there for the next two to three years… they were extending the lease there were no issues with that.”
Given the pandemic’s indefinite hold on the the bar and live music industry, the owner said it didn’t seem possible for the business to reopen “under anything close to normal conditions.”
“We were one of – if not the longest – running nightclubs in B.C., so this decision is heartbreaking,” said Gallagher who has served as the owner for 20 years.
Gallagher along with his general manager met with their staff Tuesday night before the announcement was made public.
“My general manager and myself have been discussing this for the last two weeks – what direction are we going here,” he said.
The closure impacts about 28 staff members, many who relied on their job at the business to pay their mortgage, Gallagher said.
“We have been so fortunate to be at our current location on Fraser Highway in Langley for the last 34 years, making memories with all of you: our customers, who made Gabby’s what it is and gave it the life that it had,” he went on to say.
“Many relationships began because of Gabby’s. People fell in love, met their new best friend, ran into old friends, partied with their parents, heard their favourite song for the first time, made plans for the future…
A place that didn’t take itself too seriously, but had all the character that comes with so many years of history.”
Gallagher hopes in the possibility for the Cabaret to settle in new digs, elsewhere.
“We would love to move it… at this point in time, with the uncertainty of where we’re going to be even in six months time with this (COVID-19), how can we plan anything, how can we invest into moving it,” he pondered.
But with the reaction the longtime local establishment has gained Gallagher believes there is an appetite for live music.
“There were people who camped out on the stairs last night – went down and had a drink on the stairs last night,” Gallagher shared. “People miss this place. The feedback is just amazing.”
According to its website, Gabby’s has won BC Country Music Association’s Country Club of the Year award twelve times in the past seventeen years.
Musicians including Dallas Smith, Chad Brownlee, Washboard Union, and Aaron Pritchett have all graced its stage.
“We hope that wherever we end up in the future, and we do hold out hope for a new future, that you will follow us,” he said.
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Today, it is with extreme sadness that we must announce the permanent closing of Gabby’s Country Cabaret at its current location. We were one of, if not THE, longest running nightclubs in BC, so this decision is heartbreaking to ownership, our staff, the bands, and we think to all of our patrons and friends who made Gabby’s what it is. With the current world situation, unfortunately the bar and live music industry is on an indefinite hold, and there doesn’t seem to be time in the near future for when we could reopen and return to Gabby’s under anything close to normal conditions. We have been so fortunate to be at our current location on Fraser Highway in Langley for the last 34 years, making memories with all of you: our customers, who made Gabby’s what it is and gave it the life that it had. Many relationships began because of Gabby’s. People fell in love, met their new best friend, ran into old friends, partied with their parents, heard their favourite song for the first time, made plans for the future, and had some of the best times of their lives in our one of a kind venue. A place that didn’t take itself too seriously, but had all the character that comes with so many years of history. We were so lucky that our stage was graced by the immense talent of musicians and artists over the years that started a party like no one else could do. We have had some of the best local, and even world class talent come out to entertain on our stage. We’ve even had the opportunity to shine on the big (and small) screen in numerous movies and tv shows. Gabby’s has always been about so much more then just that building; it’s the patrons, staff, music and atmosphere that make Gabby’s’s what it is. We hope that wherever we end up in the future, and we do hold out hope for a new future, that you will follow us. Thank you all for 34 years of partying with Gabby’s Country Cabaret. -Steve Gallagher, Owner