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Victoria's Pagliacci's hosting block party for 1st time in 30 years

The iconic eatery celebrates 45 years of food and music with a party, emceed by Terry David Mulligan and with musical performances

When Pagliacci's celebrates its 45th birthday on Aug. 24, the party will match the occasion.

For the first time in 30 years, the beloved locally-owned Italian restaurant will bring back the block party, a free outdoor street concert in front of its location on Broad Street.

It's fitting for a place where live music, performed Sundays through Thursdays, has been so integral to the atmosphere.

"Live music has been kind of thing since day one at Pagliacci's, and as far as we know, it's the longest ongoing, free music venue in Canada," said owner Solomon Siegel. "We've searched around and can't find another place that's had consistently had live music for 45 years in Canada."

The restaurant initially celebrated their anniversary with a block party every five years. Siegel recalls the 15th anniversary being the last block party held at Broad Street, followed by a 20th anniversary at Centennial Square. This will be the first big anniversary celebration since, Siegel said.

Siegel said there were various factors as to why the anniversary parties have been put on hold until now.

Siegel took over the restaurant from his father, Howie Siegel, in 2014. Then his uncle, David Siegel, who was involved in the business from the beginning, passed away shortly after in 2018.

"It wasn't the right timing to do a party," Siegel said, "But it's something that I've wanted to bring back. There are five-year anniversary parties, so it was the right time. And I found the right people to help put the party together."

Running from 4-10 p.m., the party will feature live performances from many artists who have been part of Pagliacci's live music culture, in some cases for decades. The Bills (headlining), The Marc Atkinson Trio, Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra, Capital City Syncopators, Gene Hardy & Miles Black, The Sidewalk Blues Band and more will fill the streets with live music.

"I grew up basically in the restaurant and I started taking music lessons with Mark Atkinson from the Mark Atkinson Trio and the Bills when I was like 13 years old," Siegel said. 

The restaurant has seen other big names play over the years, including Etta James, Dexter Gordon and Dr. John.

Terry David Mulligan, a Canadian actor and radio and television personality – with a passion for covering music, film, food and wine – will be emceeing. Mulligan is currently based in Mill Bay.

MRG Events is producing the event and renowned bassist Scott White is the artistic producer.

The street should hold around 800 people, Siegel said, but over the course of the day, a couple of thousand people are expected to come out. During that time, the restaurant will be running as per normal.

Sponsors of the event include Uber Eats, Campari, The DVBA, Harbour Cats, Magnolia Hotel, DL Sound and Evo. 

"This celebration would not be possible without the support of our dedicated staff, wonderful neighbours, loyal guests, and generous sponsors," the press release read.

Siegel, who himself plays at Pagliacci's, said he is looking forward to the party's return because of what music means to the restaurant, the community and him personally. 

"My number one love is music," he said. 

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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