Montreal's La Vitrola to Close Permanently, Casa del Popolo to Reopen Without Stage

Another major blow has been dealt to Montreal's live music scene
Montreal's La Vitrola to Close Permanently, Casa del Popolo to Reopen Without Stage
Alvvays performing at La Vitrola in 2014. Photo: Matt Bobkin
Montreal music venue La Vitrola will not reopen following its coronavirus-related closure, while Casa del Popolo is set to reopen shortly, but without a stage, according to the venues' managers.

Casa, Vitrola and sibling venue La Sala Rossa are owned and operated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor co-founder Mauro Pezzente and artist/printmaker Kiva Stimac. Since opening in 2014, La Vitrola has hosted bands like AlvvaysPharmakonScreaming FemalesOrville PeckHomeshakePetra GlyntCadence WeaponDevon Welsh and Speedy Ortiz. Casa del Popolo has operated as a vegetarian restaurant and venue for 20 years, having featured acts like Helena DelandCindy LeeNew FriesOught's Tim DarcyShe-DevilsTess Roby and Braids

A statement posted to Facebook reads:

With no vaccine for Covid-19 in sight soon and debt building and building we have realized we cannot keep La Vitrola open. We have to let it go. The system the government has set up to subsidize rent for small businesses does not work for small venues like La Vitrola since it was only applicable for 3 months and there is no way small venues will be able to fully open safely in the foreseeable future.

We don't have the means to keep building this debt on top of all the other debt we have been accumulating and we can't see a time we will be able to reopen. So, we are sad to say it is over for La Vitrola. That being said, it was an amazing 6 years and we are very thankful to have had so many wonderful artists grace the stage. Thank you also to everyone who came to see the shows and supported all the performers.

The statement also details new changes to Casa and Sala, most notably in that Casa's stage, in a separate room at the back of the venue's main restaurant area, has been replaced by a new, Casa-operated retail space:

We have also had to drastically reimagine the Casa del Popolo and La Sala Rossa for the foreseeable future as well. The Casa's stage has been removed for now, to make way for a retail shop for our in-house print shop, Popolo Press. We will be selling all manner of printed goods, (posters, art prints, notebooks, totebags and more) as well as jewelry, leather goods, stationery and cloth masks as well as other artists' works. And we will be opening a new terrasse for socially distanced eating and drinking this summer. There will also be takeout. Because of the quarantine these past months we actually had time to plant vegetables at our farm that we will be incorporating into a new Casa kitchen.

La Sala Rossa is expected to reopen as a venue. The stage recently hosted an online-only version of Pezzente and Stimac's flagship festival, Suoni Per il Popolo.

"We want to open safely and slowly and are taking the time to do it in as conscientious and safe a way as possible for our staff and customers, with the understanding things could change as we go," add the managers. "Hopefully, all these changes will keep the ship afloat until the stages can be reopened again in front of full crowds."

See the full announcement below.