The newly opened Tiffany’s Boutique Mall has a lot of history to live up to.
The building at 535 Main St. started life in the 1940’s, home to the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, but in 1975, John Vassilaki bought the building, and by 1977 reopened it as a nightclub, run by his family.
“We are calling it Tiffany’s Boutique Mall because everyone thinks of this building as Tiffany’s,” said Vassilaki. “Anybody that was anybody played in Tiffany’s.”
Vassilaki said it was a bit sad to finally end the building’s long run as a Penticton hot spot.
“It was in the family’s heart for the years that we were running it. A lot of our life was spent in there,” said Vassilaki. “It was good for the community and it was good for tourism because we brought nothing but the best entertainment that Canada and the U.S. had to offer.”
The renovated building now features five residential units on the second floor and spaces for seven shops in the mall portion.
“We decided to keep the name,” said Vassilaki, adding that his mother cried watching the new sign go up on the building. “She also spent a lot of time in there with my dad. It was very emotional for her and for the rest of the family as well.”
Vassilaki said the culture of the community has changed since Tiffany’s heydays in the 80s and 90s, with less young people to frequent clubs.
“It was time to modernize and do something different for the community, especially the south part of the downtown core, where little has been done by others to improve Main Street,” said Vassilaki, adding that it cost over $1.6 million to finish the renovations.
“We were a little over budget, but we wanted to do a first rate job on it,” said Vassilaki. Over the years, the nightclub saw many renovations, and there were places where Vassilaki found layers upon layers of past work.
“In some spots in the building, there were three and four layers of flooring. It took us nearly six months to gut it,” said Vassilaki, who describes the new building as “phenomenal.”
A key feature of the renovation is a huge skylight that now illuminates the interior.
“Most of the mall downstairs has natural light,” said Vassilaki. “That took a lot of engineering to put that skylight in place.”
MLA Dan Ashton was invited to cut the ribbon and officially open the building on Sept. 23. He commented the Vassilaki family and his have been associated for years.
“The Vassilakis are very innovative and they’ve done numerous buildings in the downtown core,” Ashton said. “The downtown core is the heart of a community. If you don’t have a strong downtown core it’s very difficult to have a strong community.”
He said it would help bring some focus to the 500 block of downtown.
“What it does it initializes it for development. Most merchants are very good and most building owners are very good in downtown but you’ve always got to use a lot of elbow grease,” Ashton said. “I would encourage people to use the Vassilakis as an example and shine up the building. People like things that are bright and shiny.”