In early 2006, Dino Bernardo and Chris Monteleone became co-owners of the beloved Commodore Grand Café & Lounge at 369 Victoria Street.
The Commodore – as it is more commonly known- opened in 1927 and is both a licensed restaurant by day and a club by night. The ownership has changed throughout the eras, but never its name. In the early 2010s, Dino and Chris underwent extensive renovations to modernize certain fixtures whilst keeping the historic charm. Dino’s admits, “it is pretty humbling to own a historical place. You have longtime locals who come up to and say they worked here in the 1980s or their relative did the original brickwork. There’s a lot of cool history here.”
Dino admits that he “…started working at The Commodore to pay my way through university to complete my Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing. When the opportunity came up in 2007 to purchase the business and enter this industry, I knew I had to. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do my whole life. I’ve always wanted the experience of being an owner, of not working for someone else.”
The co-owner’s intuition and motivations over 10 years has made the lounge an iconic go-to spot any night of the week. Every Monday night after 9:00pm, the lights go down and the mics turn up during open mic night. Anyone, from a budding musician to local celebrity- may be spotted performing underneath the John Lennon wall or sipping a local brew.
On any other given weekday, visitors enjoy homemade burgers which are “arguably the best in town”, delve into a variety of fondues with friends, or sip local wine from surrounding vineyards.
It is evident that the partnership between Chris and Dino has paid off, especially when their bar has a line out the door every weekend. Dino attributes their success to being a local ownership. He states that “We are really passionate about downtown, always have been…we have a strong connection to our community, whether it be to the arts or sports. It is why I belong to organizations like the KCBIA and Broncos…we always try to cater to different groups and want to make it welcome for all shapes and sizes and have we pride ourselves on being welcoming to first-timers or regulars.”
When asked what makes him most proud of his business, Dino -without hesitation- states the longevity of the entire business. Stores, neighbourhoods, and towns come and go; yet, The Commodore Grand Café & Lounge has been in business for over 90 years. Here’s to many more!