We're not done. This is what I was meant to do.
—Jack Jonasson, Lo Pub Manager
"Let's drink the bar dry and I'll see you guys at the next place."
With those words, Lo Pub manager Jack Jonasson stepped off the stage for the last time on Saturday night, as patrons and musicians gathered at the Kennedy Street hostel building to bid farewell to the popular downtown venue.
The decision to shut down came abruptly, after the building that housed the Lo Pub and Bistro as well as the struggling Hostelling International site was put up for sale by The Forks-North Portage Partnership.
But despite the financial challenges faced by the hostel, Jonasson is quick to point out that the pub and restaurant were viable and profitable businesses, which is why he's looking for a new site to house both.
Lo Pub's Jack Jonasson and Kym Soke (Tim Hoover)
As news of the closing filtered out, many musicians who played at the club took to social media to offer their thoughts on the closure. Andrina Turenne of Chic Gamine
wrote: "...I want to thank you SO MUCH for your amazing contribution to our arts community. You're a man of vision and intergrity and you created such an awesome venue.The Lo Pub will be sorely missed."
Vancouver's The SSRIs
offered: "Sad to hear about one of our favourite venues, Winnipeg's Lo Pub, closing. They booked us a show on our first tour where we played to 3 people, and they still covered our bar tab and gave us a room to stay. We played there a bunch more times after and the shows got better and better, and we always had a blast hanging out there."
Rusty Matyas played the Lo Pub stage several times with Winnipeg bands Imaginary Cities
and The Waking Eyes
and was "shocked and saddened" to hear about the closing. "It's too bad, Jack made an effort to support local music and that's going to be missed. It's definitely a loss for the music community, because you could count on the fact that no matter what night you went there the band playing would always be something of interest."
Jonasson says since the bittersweet closing party, he has gotten some sleep, done some laundry, and is actively looking for a new home for the venue. "We're not done. This is what I was meant to do."
And while nothing has been finalized, he hopes to find a new site in the West End, Exchange District or another spot in the downtown area. But he isn't ruling out other neighbourhoods and Matyas is quick to offer some of his own suggestions. "I'd love it to be in Osborne Village, and Corydon has no venues for live music. Jack has a respected name behind him now, he has the reputation to be a success no matter where he opens."
In the meantime, shows scheduled for at the Lo Pub are looking for new venues. Updates can be found on The Lo Pub's Facebook