Keeping the Dream Café alive

With the Dream Music Festival now a memory, work on creating a co-op to take over the music house is notching back up to full steam.

Dream Café owner Pierre Couture gets an enthusiastic hug from blues goddess Rita Chiarelli during the finale of the Dream Music festival last weekend. Now that the festival is over, the focus is back on creating a co-op to take ownership of the club.

Dream Café owner Pierre Couture gets an enthusiastic hug from blues goddess Rita Chiarelli during the finale of the Dream Music festival last weekend. Now that the festival is over, the focus is back on creating a co-op to take ownership of the club.

With the Dream Music Festival now a wonderful memory, work on creating a co-op to take over the music house is notching back up to full steam.

“I think we are halfway there,” said Pierre Couture, who co-owns the Dream Café with his wife Debra. “Another couple of meetings and we should make it.”

Work hasn’t slowed for Couture since the Dream Music Festival on May 2, with the restaurant booked solid for a five-day run by blues piano player Ben Waters.

“We were filled up all this week. We added Sunday two hours ago and we just passed the halfway mark,” Couture said on Thursday, admitting to being a little overwhelmed by the community response to the festival.

“It feels good, it feels validating, that maybe I am doing the right thing after all,” said Couture.

The very pace of the business, though, is one of the reasons he began looking at selling the unique spot, along with health issues making it difficult for him to continue to run the day-to-day operations. While there were interested parties, Couture couldn’t find the right fit.

“It’s too much for one person. To try to sell it to one person doesn’t make much sense,” said Couture. “To try to leave it to a community makes a lot of sense because we are getting better acts than Vancouver these days. It can get the whole community involved.”

The next meeting to discuss the co-op and recruit more members is on May 10 at 2 p.m. and Dream Café accountant Murray Swales  said they are about halfway to the goal of $350,000 needed to incorporate the co-op.

The original goal was to have the deal sealed by the end of April, Swales said they had to move that to June 30, in part because of the Dream Music Festival.

“The way it worked is the group who was working on the co-op got co-opted to work on the festival. Everybody became focused on the festival,” said Swales. “There is a huge interest in making sure the Dream Café stays in operation. They just don’t want to see it disappear.”

Now that they are back on track, Swales hopes this meeting and another in June will help them recruit the remaining co-op members.

“In terms of cash in the bank, we are about halfway to the $350,000 minimum we need. There are about 45 people that have got us to where we are and there is probably two to three dozen people that have said ‘we are in’ and haven’t seen anything from them yet,” said Swales, who hopes to get those people to step up now.

“Proportionately, if we get the same kind of dollars from them, we can see the finish line.”

The investment structure has two classes of shares. In order to join the co-op, potential members must purchase one of two investment share options along with a $25 membership share. Option A is a $2,000 investment share in the co-op and option B is a $5,000 share.

Upon incorporation, a $2,000 investment will return a minimum of one per cent a year, with the $5,000 investment returning 2.5 per cent a year. Members will also receive a patronage dividend, paying out a yearly percentage to members based on money spent at the Dream Café by the member that year.

Swales said they are also reaching out to area wineries, in hopes of convincing about a dozen of them to become part of the Dream Café co-op.

“That’s part of the focus in upgrading what is happening in the restaurant itself with an improved wine list and changes in the menu that would flow from the co-op,” said Swales.

“The other part is to keep Pierre involved for as long as he can. He feels comfortable in committing that he would be around for six months. If we can keep the excitement and the energy up, I suspect he will be around for longer than that.”

Swales said as part of the co-op, Couture has been tasked with finding his replacement, someone that can bring his same passion to the day-to-day management of the venue.

“What I would like to do is be responsible for the music. I need someone else to run the restaurant,” said Couture. “I have been living 16 hours a day in this building for the last 15 years. I want to see if my family is still out there.”

Attendance at the Sunday information session can be confirmed online or by phoning 250-490-9012 or by email to admin@thedreamcafe.ca.

More information on the co-op can be found online at thedreamcafe.ca.

 

Penticton Western News

Just Posted

Most Read