Country music fans throughout the Lower Mainland used to converge on the wooden building on Fraser Highway in downtown Langley City for many years until Gabby’s Country Cabaret closed in 2020.
Gabby’s was among the last country-themed nightclubs in the the Lower Mainland to feature live music, around for about 35 years.
People started to congregate to reminisce about the cabaret. At least one resident went home with a souvenir – the iconic doors.
“It’s a lifelong memory. I have had family members that have worked here. I went here as early as 19,” said Karlisa Kirkpatrick, a former patron. “I’ve had many many memories in this place. Many unforgettable memories.”
With the building reduced to rubble, she’s sad but also elated.
“I have the key to Gabby’s,” she exclaimed.
The building was a cold storage when first constructed in the 1930s so it has large, thick insulated doors which the demolition crews helped remove the frame and load into her vehicle.
She plans to refurbish the unique piece of the building.
“I actually asked the superintendent for the doors and he let me [have them], she said.
Countless country artists got their start performing there, including Dallas Smith, Chad Brownlee, The Washboard Union and Aaron Pritchett.
In 2017, the British Columbia Country Music Association held a wildfire relief concert at Gabby’s Country Cabaret with performances by the likes of Washboard Union, Langley’s Karen Lee Batten, Todd Richards, and Chris Buck Band.
It also became a draw for fans of the Riverdale when the TV show filmed there regularly.
Steve Gallagher owned Gabby’s for more than 20 years. He had to shut it down in spring 2020 due to COVID.
The property is now owned by a developer.
“It’s an old building. It had a lot of character,” Gallagher said.
He was among the handful of people watching the tear down.
“It’s a sad day but a lot of good memories,” he commented.
Gallagher said he still hears from a lot of musicians lamenting the loss of live music venues and still hears from people on the Gabby’s Facebook page.
While he said he’s retired, he’s not closing the door on another venue.
“I really believe there is a place for Gabby’s in Langley, and I hope after this whole thing is over with and the world gets back to normal, maybe we can open up another Gabby’s live venue,” he said.
#TBT Name that TV series filmed at Gabby’s!
Dang we miss filling up those beer pints and shot glasses 🍻 #gabbyscabaret #vancouvernightlife #langley #livemusic #lastcountrybarstanding
As for what will become of the land, Langley City has received no paperwork on projects or construction.
The property is zoned C1 which is Downtown Commercial Zone and allows for high density mixed use development, explained Rick Bomhof, the City’s director of Engineering, Parks and Environment.
“This could include commercial/office space and high density residential uses. As no application has been made yet it remains to be seen what the property owner will propose, but it will need to be consistent with the proposed new OCP which identifies this site as ‘Transit Oriented Core’ land use, which supports high density mixed use development,” Bomhof said. “As this site is across the street from the future Skytrain station and transit exchange the City will definitely be looking for a significant redevelopment that includes high density commercial/office space and residential units, and a high quality, pedestrian-friendly streetscape along Fraser Highway and 203rd Street.’
The conceptual plan for the 203 Station area shown in the draft Official Community Plan, he added.
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