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Victoria’s Pagliacci’s is organizing a neighborhood party for the first time in 30 years

Victoria’s Pagliacci’s is organizing a neighborhood party for the first time in 30 years
Victoria’s Pagliacci’s is organizing a neighborhood party for the first time in 30 years

The iconic eatery celebrates 45 years of food and music with a party hosted by Terry David Mulligan and featuring musical performances

When Pagliacci celebrates its 45th anniversary on August 24, the party will be extra special.

For the first time in 30 years, the beloved locally owned Italian restaurant is hosting a “block party” — a free outdoor street concert in front of its Broad Street location.

It’s fitting for a place where live music, played Sunday through Thursday, is such an integral part of the atmosphere.

“Live music has been a thing at Pagliacci’s since day one, and to our knowledge it is the longest running, free music venue in Canada,” said owner Solomon Siegel. “We’ve searched and can’t find another venue that has consistently had live music for 45 years in Canada.”

The restaurant initially celebrated its anniversary with a block party every five years. Siegel recalls that the 15th anniversary was the last block party held on Broad Street, followed by a 20th anniversary at Centennial Square. This will be the first big anniversary party since then, Siegel said.

According to Siegel, there are several reasons why the anniversary celebrations have been postponed so far.

Siegel took over the restaurant from his father, Howie Siegel, in 2014. Shortly after, in 2018, his uncle, David Siegel, who had been involved with the business from the beginning, passed away.

“It wasn’t the right time to have a party,” Siegel said, “but it’s something I wanted to bring back. There are five-year anniversary parties, so it was the right time. And I found the right people to throw the party.”

The party runs from 4pm to 10pm and features live performances from many of the artists who have been part of Pagliacci’s live music culture, in some cases for decades. The Bills (headlining), The Marc Atkinson Trio, Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra, Capital City Syncopators, Gene Hardy & Miles Black, The Sidewalk Blues Band and more will fill the streets with live music.

“I grew up in the restaurant and started taking music lessons from Mark Atkinson of the Mark Atkinson Trio and the Bills when I was 13 years old,” Siegel said.

Over the years, other big names have performed at the restaurant, including Etta James, Dexter Gordon and Dr. John.

Terry David Mulligan, a Canadian actor and radio and television personality based in Vancouver, will be the host.

MRG Events is producing the event and Scott White is the artistic producer.

The street should hold about 800 people, Siegel said, but several thousand are expected over the course of the day, during which time the restaurant will be open.

Event sponsors include Uber Eats, Campari, The DVBA, Harbour Cats, Magnolia Hotel, DL Sound and Evo.

“This celebration would not be possible without the support of our dedicated staff, wonderful neighbors, loyal guests and generous sponsors,” the press release said.

Siegel, who plays at Pagliacci’s himself, says he’s looking forward to the party’s return because of the significance of music to the restaurant, the community and him personally.

“My greatest love is music,” he said.