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The Place opening in downtown Lethbridge, offering customers blast from past

A new sign has appeared on the old Average Joe’s building on 6 Street S in downtown Lethbridge.

The sign, The Place, looked familiar to some, but the mystery around it sparked conversation online.

“The Place was a nightclub back in the early 1980s before The Cadillac came in,” said Floyd Moncrieff, the general manager of the new, The Place.

“It was probably my favourite nightclub when I was a youngster.”

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When Average Joe’s officially closed on June 24, 2020, Moncrieff saw an opportunity. He also owns Boss Hogs and Club Lime in Lethbridge.

“I’ve looked at this building for many years. It’s been on my wish list,” he said. “So I decided to purchase it and take it back to its former glory.”

Click to play video: Keeping businesses in downtown Lethbridge

The building has a long history in Lethbridge, said the president of the Lethbridge Historical Society.

Belinda Crowson notes “420 6 St S goes back to the 1950s, and surprisingly the first thing in there was Canadian Western Natural Gas.”

Next came the grocery stores. Loblaws bought the space in the 1960s.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the building became the home to its first entertainment venue. Sometime during the ’80s it became The Place.

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“I was reading through some of the advertisements for The Place and they called themselves Lethbridge’s only nightclub in 1980,” said Crowson.

“Because they were a nightclub, people had to be dining as well as drinking.”

“Some of the stories I’ve heard, Loverboy and Bryan Adams, various concerts were held there,” said Crowson. “So they were very much into providing that full experience: the nightclub experience, the bar experience, the dining experience and the entertainment experience.”

Moncrieff has nothing but good memories of The Place.

“We were fortunate enough to see Loverboy before they made it big,” he said. “I had a band back then and we used to play there as well.

“It brings back a lot of fond memories for me.”

That’s why he wanted to bring it back.

“We kind of had our own ideas of what we wanted to do,” he said. “With what happened in Calgary and Edmonton with the Rec Room and Greta Bar, and we thought Lethbridge was ready for an arcade bar.”

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An arcade bar was a foreign concept in the 1980s when the original The Place was around. It was an experience they couldn’t provide.

There was a lot of pushback in Lethbridge when it came to arcades. The Municipal Planning Commission turned down several arcades during the 80s.

“They were very much worried about teenagers hanging out,” said Crowson.

“They were worried about vandalism, they were worried about noise, they were worried about truancy and absenteeism from schools, they were worried about the parking.”

“As we go through [city history], there are different areas we see pushback. Whatever is new and different, and then it becomes normalized and part of culture,” said Crowson. “Then you look back and you go, ‘Was that an issue? Really?’”

Today, arcades are seen as more nostalgia and attract a more adult crowd.

Click to play video: Pair of new arcade bars open in Edmonton

“To go into an old-fashioned arcade and to pop your quarters in and play the games would be very retro and very nostalgic,” said Crowson.

“Absolutely I can see a lot of people wanting to go back to those teenage years.”

The excitement and mystery around The Place continues to build.

“Before we put the sign up there were so many rumors that it was actually not going to be a bar at all anymore,” said Moncrieff. “So we had just stayed quiet on that. Once the sign went up, there was lots of talk.”

Moncrieff told Global News The Place is ready to open when COVID-19 restrictions allow. Half The Place is an arcade bar, while the other half is a nightclub.

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