The owner of Kelowna’s Grateful Fed says he hopes his decision to sell the popular cafe and live music venue won’t mark the day the music died.
Kamel Abougoush announced Friday he is selling the music-themed business, saying he hopes he can find a buyer willing to keep it running.
“I’ll turn 70 on Wednesday,” he said when asked what prompted him to sell after 16 years. “It was time.”
On the Grateful Fed webpage, he wrote: “Well everybody, its been a 16-year run of music, parties food and fun. But as of Christmas 2018, the Abougoush family is saying goodbye to the Grateful Fed and moving on to the next adventure.”
Contacted at the the Bernard Avenue eatery Friday afternoon, Abougoush said what made the business successful was the ambiance inside.
“It was all about peace and love,” he said, adding the pictures of famous musicians that cover the walls only amplified that feeling.
He said he plans to close down Dec. 23 and “clean up the place” in early January.
“If we can’t find a buyer by February, I guess we’ll have to close it for good.”
But he hopes to find a buyer who can carry on what he, his family and staff created over the years at the Grateful Fed.
The cafe started as a sandwich shop in 2002 and, at the urging of his son, started to host local bands.
“Some nights we would have three of four bands playing, each doing an hour or so,” said Abougoush.
The Abougoush family is well-known in the city as owners and operators of several eateries over the years, including Bourbon Street, located in what is now the Creekside Pub, Kamel’s Sports Page on Leon Avenue, Doc’s Cafe, where the Minstrel Cafe is now located, and the former Sneaky Peach Pub in Peachland.
Abougoush, who still plays hockey two nights a week in the winter, said he’s not sure what retirement will look like for him but he plans to do it right.
“I’ve seen a whole mess of my friends retire and screw it up,” he joked. “So, I’ve been watching, and learning.”
He said he’s going out on a happy note and there is no plan for his son to take over the business.
“It was my dream, not his,” said Abougoush, a Lebanese immigrant who moved as a child with his family to Canada in the early 1960s and settled in northern Alberta.
He said his parents discovered Kelowna driving through to Vancouver, loved it and went back to Alberta and sold their farm. The family moved to Kelowna in 1968.
Abougoush moved to Calgary as a young man and moved back to Kelowna in 1978.
He said in retirement, he has no plans to leave.
Asked what he will miss about the Grateful Fed, didn’t have to think long to answer.
“If someone buys it, my pictures,” he said of the photos on the walls.
But if there is a new owner who keeps it open, he will get a chance to see them again and again because he said plans to be regular customer.
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