Veteran bar owners opening new nightclub in former CJs location

New downtown nightclub

Sydney Chisholm

A big shift is coming to the Kamloops bar scene.

A new nightclub called Nightshift on Fifth plans to open in the former CJs building later this month under the watchful eyes of two veteran Kamloops bar owners.

Pup Johnston and Sherri Lynn King, owners of the Blue Grotto, have taken over the lease of the venerable dancehall and plan to open a new 19-plus club inside the Fifth Avenue space, which has been mostly shuttered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnston told Castanet Kamloops there was a need for a new night spot.

“We see a need for for something else in the downtown core or even something else on the North Shore,” Johnston explained.

“Right now we're working hard to bring in a new venue, a 19-plus venue here in Kamloops and we hope to have that open soon.”

Johnston said he and King aren’t looking to monopolize the club scene, but rather fill current and future demand.

“We're not opening up another club for us — we're opening it up for Kamloops,” Johnston said.

“Kamloops needs it right now. The downtown core needs right now. There's apartments being built. There's people moving into the downtown core and eventually there will be a need for it.”

Despite having the same owners, Johnston said Nightshift won’t be anything like the Blue Grotto.

He said the Fifth Avenue club won’t be enforcing the same dress codes as the Grotto, nor will it have the same 21-and-up age restriction.

“The vibe that we do want over there is we do want to have like a wide open, a very inclusive vibe at that place,” he said, adding Nightshift will primarily feature a DJ rather than live bands, and his partner King will be running the show.

The owners said they want to bring a more diverse club experience to the city and are already planning multiple weekly events including Latin and Pride nights.

“Some of the most successful clubs that I've seen in my 40 years of being in this industry, have been clubs that cater to every person, not just one person,” he said.

“And I know that sounds funny coming from a guy that runs a 21-and-older club, but we are specifically live rock and roll music.”

Johnston said a lot still needs to be done to remodel the longtime country-themed bar to fit their vision, but the couple hopes the dance floor will be open for patrons sometime this month. CJs reopened briefly during the COVID-19 pandemic but has been shuttered for more than a year.

CJs had been in operation since 1986. Originally called Jack Daniels and operating out of what is now The Rex at Seymour Street and Fourth Avenue, the club moved to Fifth Avenue near Lansdowne Street in 2009 — and began to slowly shed its cowboy theme.

Nightshift will soon be doing a cattle call for employees. Johnston said those interested in applying can drop off a resume at the Blue Grotto and stay tuned to the club’s social media for hiring details.

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