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Date night has a new destination in Cape Breton

Sydney businessman Kevin Colford is happy to launch his latest venture, Sacred Heart Downtown on April 20 with “Here Comes the Sun: Dinner and a Show.” Those attending will get to see a live theatre production and be served a multi-course meal. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST
Sydney businessman Kevin Colford is happy to launch his latest venture, Sacred Heart Downtown on April 20 with “Here Comes the Sun: Dinner and a Show.” Those attending will get to see a live theatre production and be served a multi-course meal. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST - Elizabeth Patterson

Sydney businessman hopes Cape Bretoners will take new venue to heart

SYDNEY — Sydney businessman Kevin Colford has taken the name of his latest project to heart — his.

Colford is the owner of Sacred Heart Downtown and he’s also the man who turned the former St. Andrews Church into the Highland Arts Theatre. If the usually sold-out Highland Arts Theatre managed to convince Cape Bretoners that CBRM really needed another entertainment venue, Colford is confident his latest venture will help bring romance back to a group that’s been largely ignored by the entertainment industry — the over-40 crowd.

“Couples are hungry for a date night, something that is significant that would be exciting and vibrant and something to create memories with,” he said. “But there is nothing for over 40-year-olds. If you’re over 40, what are you going to do?”

Sydney businessman Kevin Colford stands in the balcony of Sacred Heart Downtown in Sydney which will soon feature a VIP area. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST - Elizabeth Patterson
Sydney businessman Kevin Colford stands in the balcony of Sacred Heart Downtown in Sydney which will soon feature a VIP area. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST - Elizabeth Patterson

 

While many places are more geared towards a younger crowd, Colford wanted a place that he would enjoy attending with his wife for a special night out.

At first, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to get into another big renovation project but as he drove by the former Sacred Heart Church at 217 George St. in north end Sydney, he wondered if it might be the right place for his idea.

“I saw they still hadn’t sold that building. I knew the acoustics were gorgeous and I love the old architecture — today buildings are engineered to save money but the older buildings were overbuilt so they’re structurally sound. I thought I’m not going to get into another major renovation — it’s time consuming, it takes a lot out of you — but a small voice in my thoughts said, ‘Kevin, they don’t have anywhere to go.’

“With passion I wanted to create a place of romance. A place where you could have a date night.”

After extensive renovations, the venue will be publicly launched on April 20.

The March HAT production, “Here Comes The Sun,” will be featured on stage accompanied by a five-piece band led by Barb Stetter. The night will also feature a three-course meal featuring seared scallops, prime rib and dessert or a vegetarian option, catered by Mise en Place Catering of Sydney.

For Mise en Place co-owner/chef Mark Paterson, creating the meals for what could eventually be a 500-seat venue (once COVID restrictions are lifted) is a dream come true.

“This place is out of this world,” said Paterson. “We’re appreciative that we were chosen for this because we’ve worked hard to get to where we’re at and we’re really ecstatic to get in and show our work to the public.”

Those who attend events at Sacred Heart Downtown will get to hear musicians and performers, whose sound will be enhanced by a state of the art sound system, shown here by Kevin Colford. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST - Elizabeth Patterson
Those who attend events at Sacred Heart Downtown will get to hear musicians and performers, whose sound will be enhanced by a state of the art sound system, shown here by Kevin Colford. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST - Elizabeth Patterson

 

Chef John Pronk acknowledges his job with Mise en Place is a direct result of the new venue.

“To have such a nice venue within the community is an amazing opportunity and we’re going to be getting lots of great cooks and chefs in here to work and learn and have a fun and professional environment — I think it’s going to be a great summer.”

Colford knew his latest project was on the right path when the East Coast Music Association decided to hold six shows there for their upcoming May convention and conference. When COVID restrictions ease, expect concerts from well-known Cape Bretoners like Dave Sampson, Ashley MacIsaac and Gordie Sampson.

And in keeping with the romance theme, couples are already lining up to hold their weddings at Sacred Heart Downtown with bookings already well into 2022.

But the highlight event will be the weekly dinner and dance that will feature a high-end meal with live dinner music, followed by a dance, with popular dance bands. Some weeks will feature a theme, such as jazz night or disco night but all will require a certain level of dressing up for a special night on the town. Even going to the washroom will have a certain element of luxury with high-end fixtures and an attendant distributing fresh towels.

“People need a night to get away from it all. I want to pamper them,” said Colford.

“A lot of great memories are going to be built here.”

Elizabeth Patterson is a culture reporter at the Cape Breton Post.

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