Rachel Stern_News Bulletin Josh Haxton

Rachel Stern_News Bulletin Josh Haxton

Best of the City: Nanaimo likes a night out now and then

Nanaimo has a diverse and rich nightlife in different parts of the city.

Nanaimo has a diverse and rich nightlife.

In the north end establishments like Simon Holt Restaurant, Browns Socialhouse, Cactus Club Café and the Longwood Brew Pub are popular places to gather.

In the downtown core, the Queen’s, the Cambie, Evolve Nightclub, The Nanaimo Bar and White Sails Brewing are attracting evening crowds.

Browns is a place to gather with friends, have a beer after work or watch the latest sports games at the bar area.

Longwood Brew Pub, located in Longwood Station, boasts a casual pub atmosphere and hosts Live at Longwood, entertainment that features local performers on Thursdays starting at 8 p.m. It also hosts Longwoodstock from Aug-12-13.

When customers come through the doors of Simon Holt Restaurant and take a seat at a booth they may not notice they’re on wheels. In fact, there are wheels everywhere.

Each seating area, table and divider has wheels.

“Our entire floor plan moves, all the booths can move. It makes us extremely flexible,” said Josh Haxton, general manager of Simon Holt Restaurant. It allows the restaurant to change up the space if it is booked for a party or arrange it to suit live performances.

Simon Holt regularly hosts live entertainers with previous performers including David Gogo, David Essig, Lennie Gallant and others. Haxton said the owners, Larry Simon and Marilyn Holt, created the space with live music in mind, adding elements in the design to improve acoustics.

Haxton said the restaurant gets a diverse range of people through its doors, everything from families with kids, to retirees to young professionals or sport enthusiasts seeking a place to have a beer and watch a game.

Ensuring everyone gets a friendly greeting is important at Simon Holt.

“All our server try to make a connection,” said Haxton.

During the summer months, the restaurant hosts a Friday night barbecue on the rooftop patio from 3-7 p.m., weather permitting.

To give customers a fun creative experience Simon Holt also offers Paint Nite events. Customers can enjoy a glass of wine or beer and paint. “We try to offer things that can’t be done in other venues,” said Haxton.

In downtown, recent newcomers to the scene, such as Evolve Nightclub and The Nanaimo Bar, are building fans.

Evolve recently went through a complete renovation and reopened in January.

“We changed the landscape of the dance floor,” said Tali Campbell, Evolve’s marketing manager, adding that the sound and lighting system were also upgraded.

He said Evolve has one of the best sound systems in a nightclub. Evolve attracts a diverse range of ages, everything from 19 to more than 60, said Campbell.

What sets Evolve Nightclub apart is the calibre of DJs brought in, said Campbell. He said they are bringing in some big names in the industry so people have an enjoyable time.

On Front Street, The Nanaimo Bar, which opened in February, offers an intimate atmosphere to listen to live music and enjoy drinks. The bar is open seven days a week and has a steampunk theme. Gears adorn the bottom of each table and copper piping accentuates the wall as a wine rack and lighting.

Owner Sonia Komen said it attracts people of all ages, from 19 to 90.

The Queen’s, located at 34 Victoria Cres.,  has been a staple of Nanaimo’s downtown scene for more than two decades. The building was originally built in 1892 as a hotel. Since becoming a bar, the Queen’s has become a destination hangout. It routinely hosts local, national and international entertainers, such as Teri Puckett, Bif Naked, The Trews, Jim Byrnes and others.

The Cambie, which also resides in a historic building on Victoria Crescent, has also hosted local and national musicians over the years.

It regularly hosts an open mike jam night on Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and has live music every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

White Sails Brewing, located at 125 Comox Rd., is a relative newcomer to Nanaimo, having opened in November 2015. Many of the names given to the beers pay homage to Nanaimo, such as Departure Bay Session Ale, Yellow Point Pale Ale and the Mount Benson India Pale Ale.

For more information, please go to www.tourismnanaimo.com or www.dnbia.ca.