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End of an era in Labrador West?

The K bar today.
The K bar today. - Mike Power

It opened in 1975. The Kaboulo Bar was the first disco for Labrador West.

Kaboulo Bar/Disco in the 1970’s.
Kaboulo Bar/Disco in the 1970’s.

The disco scene was breaking out all over and the first owners thought it was time to get with the times. It opened, mirrored disco ball, lights, flashing lights in the floor, everything pulsed to the disco beat and people danced till three in the morning on most weekend nights.

Anne Augot went to work at the Kaboulo bar  — now more affectionately called the K Bar — in 1986, and when the opportunity arose she bought the place in 1992.

There are a lot of people in Labrador West who have their own K Bar story. Some people met their future spouses there, and many a celebration was held in the bar that has been a popular spot for just about 44 years.

But it looks like the K Bar may not be around after March.

Augot said she was shocked when the landlord met with her in December and gave her a three-month notice to leave.

“I literally couldn’t talk “, she told The Aurora. “I’ve been there for more than 25 years, taken care of the place, making improvements, so for this to happen I was blindsided.

“I’ve put over a $120,000 in the most recent renovations, I employ seven people. What will I do with the furniture, the glasses, and the equipment?”

Augot said she didn’t sign a lease in 2015 when Wabush Mines closed and there was a downturn in the economy. She has been working on a month-to-month lease since.

Augot says she was told someone had applied for a license to operate a microbrewery in the K Bar space and was willing to sign a five-year lease. Augot says she would have signed a lease if it were offered to her.

The Aurora contacted, Roger Hodge, one of the owners of the Bruno Plaza where the bar is located.

“This was solely a business decision,” he said. “Myself and the other owner looked at the proposal that offered a long-term lease versus a month by month agreement, and we made this decision from the point of view of what was best for our business.”

A search at the website of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment shows Iron Rock Brewing company has applied to install and operate a microbrewery and tap room in the space where the K Bar is currently located. The plan is to produce close to 80,000 litres of beer a year, and to sell it on premise and make it available to other clubs and in small kegs.

Brian Hurley, one of the people who applied for the license for the microbrewery, said they are still working through the application process. He expects the decision will be made in early February. He did say that they looked at other sites, but the one they choose suited the operation the best.

Since 1975 and the K Bar is still going.
Since 1975 and the K Bar is still going.

The Aurora asked Hodge about space availability in other parts of the building but he said the space occupied by the K Bar worked best for the people who made the proposal.

Meanwhile there has been a lot of reaction on social media about the news that the K Bar looks like it is closing. Many people say it’s like an institution in the area, and it will be sorely missed. Some said there could be other places available rather than displace a business that’s in operation. Almost all were in favor of keeping the K Bar.

Plans are in place for an event the evening of Saturday, Jan. 26 for people to come out and show support for the K Bar.

As for Augot, she hasn’t given up. She has entertained some thought about relocating, but says there is a lot to consider.

Meanwhile, Augot has spoken with Labrador West MHA Graham Letto. The application has to go through his Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

People who have any concerns or issues can make public comments to the department. They have until Thursday, Jan. 24 to do that.

Letto says his decision will be announced Feb. 2. He also points out that his decision is based only on the environmental aspect of the project. Letto also says the rules were put in place mainly for large breweries before the idea of microbreweries became popular.

Augot says she has received a lot of support from people locally who think the bar should remain, and they have told her they will post comments on the application.

In the meantime, she feels let down after being a tenant for such a long time.

Hodge said he would not comment on the details of the agreements or conversations between the two due to confidentiality reasons.

Will there be a K Bar after March, or a new microbrewery? A lot of decisions will have to be made in the next few weeks and The Aurora will continue to follow this story.

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