Fond salute for club owner

A man who was a key part of Vernon's nightlife scene for many years has passed away.

Mo Halat, who was in his eighties, died in hospital Friday due to an illness.

Those who knew the former Vernon nightclub owner have nothing but good things to say about him.

“I just loved him, he was such a nice man,” said Saverio Loria, Halat's former partner in two nightspots, Nite Magic and Boomers.

Loria met Halat in 1989 when he was part owner of a Kelowna nightspot. Loria managed or partnered with Halat for 26 years.

In May, 1991, the two opened Nite Magic in Vernon, where the current Status nightclub sits and is owned by Loria.

“They are some of my best memories to this day. Mo was great. Staff loved him, customers loved him. He was the front face of the club," Loria said.

Their friendship extended beyond the nightclub, to fishing trips and a genial rivalry.

“He was a good fisherman, but we were fishing this one time and I kept attracting all the fish. He'd put a worm on his hook and I'd put on my bait. He kept asking what I was using but I wouldn't tell him. Then he would have caught all of the fish.”

Halat owned a number of clubs around Vernon and was finally convinced to sell his last one in 2015. Even though Halat was in his eighties, it took almost nine months for Loria to convince his old business partner to sell.

“I asked how he liked retirement and he said 'I absolutely hate it,'” Loria recalled.

In October 2016, Loria held a reunion for Nite Magic staff, with Halat front and centre.

“It was his official retirement party,” Loria said. “People were so happy Mo was there.”

Like Loria, former employee Brian Quint remembers Halat fondly.

“I started with them about two years after the opening of Nite Magic,” said Quint, who recalled how he worked his way up from waiting tables, to disc jockey and then manager. “In 1992, I worked at Boomers which is now Marten's Brew Pub.”

“We felt like we were part of his family,” said Quint, who described going to Halat's house for staff events or shooting pool with him.

“He was a decent guy, better than 99 per cent of the bosses I've ever had.”

Quint said staff liked working for Halat and Loria's organization.

“It's what set them apart. The night clubs they ran, the way they treated people ... people always came back.”

Halat leaves behind his friends and children, including Debbie, Lori, Fred and Mark. He was predeceased by his wife, Dahl.

Loria hopes a celebration of life will be held for his friend at Status nightclub, although details have yet to be worked out. 

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