As it celebrates its 85th birthday in 2020, the venerable Copper Cliff Italian Club is taking steps to once again become the busy community busy hub it was in its earlier years.
“We are planning to put more life into the place,” said general manager Marika Urso.
The club, located in the Little Italy section of Copper Cliff, was built in 1935, at a time when Italians were forbidden from using other Copper Cliff recreational facilities, such as the Copper Cliff Club.
There was a definite community divide in those days. If youth from the other side of town tried to cross the railroad tracks delineating Little Italy's boundaries, there were sometimes fights.
Most families didn't have vehicles, so Little Italy residents needed their own community centre. The club was built on the site of an old church on Craig Street, which the men dismantled.
Long gone are the cultural tensions — people of any background or who live elsewhere in the city are welcome to enjoy the club's facilities.
Urso said the Copper Cliff Italian Club now has younger board members, and they've made some changes they hope will attract more people.
One change has been opening up the club's downstairs Espresso Lounge most days of the week (it's closed on Tuesdays). Italian food buffet dinners are also being offered every night the lounge is open.
It's a low-key, family-friendly place where you can relax, have a drink, watch some sports on television, play some pool or darts or even go bowling.
That's right — the Copper Cliff Italian Club has its own four-lane bowling alley. It's a perfect place to bring kids to bowl, as it costs just $5 for kids and $10 for adults for an evening.
If you'd like to join a league, the club also has bowling and bocce leagues.
The Espresso Lounge opens at 4:30 p.m., and is open until late.
The Copper Cliff Italian Club also has a number of upcoming events, including a Valentine's Day dinner and dance event this Thursday, Feb. 14. Tickets cost $60 a person.
Festa di San Valentino includes a seven-course, self-serve dinner, a DJ, a couples' poetry corner, a Baci chocolate making station where you can put a love note inside the wrapper and a judged contest where people are challenged to write letters to the Shakespeare characters Juliet or Romeo.
Urso said the club also has a wedding show coming up Sept. 12-13, and is planning an 85th anniversary gala, which will likely occur in the fall.
For more information on what's offered by the Copper Cliff Italian Club, visit the club's website, or phone 705-682-4513.