Skip to content

‘Coming Soon’: former Doc Willoughby’s transforms into downtown theatre experience

‘Bernie’s’ is expected to open sometime in next month
(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

A popular downtown Kelowna spot is going Hollywood. It’s getting a face-lift and it’s ‘coming soon’.

The Nixon family bought Doc Willoughby’s last year and decided to develop the upstairs to expand the facility and open up Doc’s sequel, Bernie’s Supper Club and Cinema.

“It definitely wasn’t the original plan,” said Kyle Nixon. “With COVID, we had to make a decision in November and we had to have more of a food focus because with COVID, it was hard to rely on just being a bar and a late night spot ‘cause that was kind of what COVID and a lot of the mandates were against. We felt our best opportunity was to do a bit of an overhaul.”

Growing up in Kelowna, both Kyle and his wife have had the vision of bringing a movie theatre back to downtown.

“The concept has lived with my wife and I for a while,” said Nixon. “We both grew up here in Kelowna and we remember a time when there was two movie theatres downtown. There was both the Paramount theatre downtown, of course, and there was also a theatre just off Water Street called Uptown Theatre…that one was the one that was probably the most memorable for me. My wife and I remember going there for birthday parties or with our parents.”

Renovations are currently going on in the upstairs area that will be the theatre part of the venue while the bar area will still be on ground level. The theatre area upstairs is going to be unique as it features a variety of seating including recliners and booths.

“Our goal is that we’re going to do something new and different… let’s do something that kind of doesn’t already exist,” said Nixon. “A boutique movie theatre that can also be used for live shows or private rentals or private screenings, there’s a lot of things we can do with the space.”

On top of expanding the space, they’ve expanded the liquor license as well to 333 seats. Approximately half the seats are downstairs in the bar area and the other half are upstairs in the theatre area.

“What can we do that’s going to create an experience? We’re trying to go for something different, that’s what we’re striving for,” said Nixon. “The cool thing about a movie theatre is that everybody’s welcome, everyone enjoys the experience. I do believe that the movie theatre experience has evolved.”

Nixon is a seasoned restauranteur, as he is also the owner of BNA Brewing, Skinny Duke’s, and Public Liquor.

He said he, his wife, and their team came up with the name Bernie’s as it’s “our love song to Bernard Street.”

Renovations are scheduled to be completed soon as Bernie’s, located at 353 Bernard, is expected to open sometime in June, though an exact date hasn’t been announced yet.

Soon enough, you can spend a week night or a ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’.

READ MORE: Kelowna pub Doc’s set to expand and change name

READ MORE: “Best lineup to date”: Rock the Lake tickets now on sale


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
Read more