Just two months after the Davie Village’s Oasis transitioned from a gay lounge to a restaurant and bar, its new management has left the building.
Now-former general manager Glen Calizon confirmed that he and his business partner, Brent Chow, are no longer managing Oasis but declined to answer questions when reached by phone May 27, citing an unspecified ongoing investigation.
Current and former Oasis employees had taken to airing their complaints on Facebook in recent weeks, alleging that many staff were not being paid properly or on time.
“I can honestly say I have never seen a work environment so poorly taken care of. Staff have left in droves since the newest reincarnation of this old establishment,” Guy Herrington wrote in a May 24 Facebook post.
“I have personally witnessed missing pay, bounced checks, no check stubs (meaning the staff have no idea what they are getting paid per hour, how many hours they were paid for, deductions taken or holiday time banked),” he alleged.
Herrington and his partner Jason Athen both worked for Oasis before and after the new management took over the club. After their own negative experiences, and hearing complaints from fellow employees, the couple sought advice from a lawyer and from the BC Employment Standards Branch. “I’m trying to protect 20 people here, and make sure they get everything they deserve,” Herrington told Xtra May 30.
Since going public on social media, Herrington says Oasis owner Thuy Dinh has now addressed some of the complaints around missing pay, but that other concerns remain unresolved.
In a May 7 interview, Calizon said Oasis was no longer financially feasible solely as a gay nightclub.
He also told Xtra that after five years of trying to make a go of it, Dinh had been ready to sell Oasis on Craigslist before Calizon stepped in and suggested a way to salvage the business: make it “an all-inclusive establishment.”
Calizon said Oasis wasn’t abandoning the gay community; it was “just widening the net in terms of our target audience.”
When reached by phone on May 27, Dinh said she would call back later but has not yet returned Xtra’s call.
Vince Marino, co-owner of the PumpJack and Junction pubs on Davie, questions the idea that gay venues in Vancouver are no longer financially viable.
“We’ve never considered changing that, and we don’t see that ever happening. Everybody’s welcome, but we’ve always been a gay establishment.”
He credits some of that success to their support of the gay community.
“Our pubs are gay-owned and operated, and we’ve always been part of the community,” he says.
Fountainhead manager Randy Newburg attributes his pub’s longevity partially to a combination of good hiring and a longstanding support of gay organizations, particularly the gay sports leagues.
“They in turn come out and support us, and it makes for a more diverse crowd,” he says.
On May 24, Oasis was highlighting the relaunch of its popular Saturday night women’s party, with DJ Kasha Kennedy, on its Facebook page. As of May 28, that Facebook page seems to have been pulled, though a new page still advertises Girls Saturdays at Oasis Ultra Lounge.