In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.
These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here.
Today's spotlight is on Sudbury.com's Heidi Ulrichsen, whose story 'Sukhdev Restaurant owners buy Copper Cliff Italian Club building' was published on Nov. 2.
Here is the original story if you need to catch up:
Following the Copper Cliff Italian Club’s 2022 decision to fold, the 71-year-old building that formerly housed the club in Copper Cliff’s Little Italy neighbourhood has now been sold to the owners of Sukhdev Restaurant, who specialize in Indian food.
The building’s new owners, who closed the property deal in October, say they will operate the building as a restaurant, events venue and community centre under the name Royal Palace.
With the addition of the new venue, Sukhdev will now be operating five locations — it also operates restaurants at the Quality Inn in downtown Sudbury, as well as in Espanola, Massey and Manitoulin Island.
One of the owners of the family-run business, Amrit Singh, said they were looking for a larger venue where they can cater events such as weddings, cultural events, performances and more.
They already have a few bookings for summer weddings, and a performance by a Hindi stand-up comedian is already planned for late November.
He said he loves the venue’s big kitchen, the “beautiful, royal look” of the upstairs banquet hall, and the downstairs restaurant and bar.
Singh said he also loves that the Copper Cliff Italian Club building has its own small bowling alley, adding that growing up in India, he’d spend two or three hours a week bowling.
“This is a dream,” he said, adding that his son is also loving the bowling alley.
Renovations are currently underway on the building, with plans to open the venue up to the public again as of the end of this month.
With the cost of renovations factored in, Singh estimates purchasing the building and bringing it back up to snuff will have cost the family half a million dollars by the time they’re done. The building was listed for sale in 2022 for $674,000.
At one time, the Copper Cliff Italian Club was popular with Vale workers and others in the community for its Friday lunch buffets. “We're planning to do a buffet the whole week,” said the venue’s new owner.
Singh said they plan to of course offer Indian food, but also Canadian food, and if he can convince some of the Copper Cliff Italian Club’s former cooks to return, Italian food as well, paying homage to the venue’s roots.
He also wants to open the building to serve as a community centre, much like it was previously run, so people can come to the restaurant and bar, spend time in the bowling alley, and more. Singh said he understands locals have an emotional attachment to the building.
The people of Copper Cliff seem to be excited about new life being breathed into the former Copper Cliff Italian Club. A post by the venue’s new owners on the Copper Cliff community’s Facebook page elicited more than two dozen comments.
“From the first day we opened it, and we switched on the lights, people started coming here, and they’re giving us greetings and wishing us welcome to the community, and they said they are excited,” Singh said.
Copper Cliff Italian Club president Randy Desanti told us last year the decision to fold the club was due in part to the impacts of COVID-19 on the organization.
The Italian club’s membership was also getting very old and spending less and less time there, and the younger generation weren’t showing the same interest.
Reached this week, Desanti said the club is pleased the venue will continue to be used as it was originally intended, as a space “for all kinds of celebrations and events and of course good food.”
“It’s a good fit,” said Desanti, who said the club wishes the new owners well.
Desanti, who declined to provide the venue’s final purchase price, said once the club pays off what it currently owes, anything that’s left over will go toward a Sudbury charity, although he declined to give the name of that charity at this time.
“We're working our way through it,” he said. “Then we hope we will be able to give some money to charity in Sudbury, but that’s not known right now until we finish the books and everything else that we have to go through.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.