By Ron Giofu
As the closing date for the sale of the Verdi Club property nears, its president is looking back on over 50 years of the club’s contribution to Amherstburg.
The deal closes Jan. 6 and Verdi Club president Vince Muoio indicated that while the property will no longer be owned by the club, the club will still be able lease out the member’s bar and use that portion of the building.
“We’re still a club but we’re a club without the bricks and mortar,” said Muoio.
Muoio admitted there is some sadness about the sale but believed it was a move that had to be made.
“We had a membership meeting about three months ago,” said Muoio. “There’s mixed feelings.”
The club has elections near the end of January and Muoio said the new board will “have to hit the pavement running and try to embrace our membership.” The Verdi Club currently has about 140 members, down from its peak of about 600 members.
The loss of major industry over the years negatively impacted the club with SKD and General Chemical being supporters of the club, he said.
“They were an essential part of the Verdi Club just like we were a part of Amherstburg itself,” said Muoio.
Muoio also pointed out that a lot of older members have passed away over the years and younger people don’t have the same amount of time to devote to the club.
“It’s hard to raise a family and have time to devote to a club,” he said.
The roots of the club started in 1958, he added, and met in church halls and people’s homes before the current property was built in the early 1960’s.
“This place grew over the years,” he said, noting there used to be baseball and soccer games out back as well.
There was a misconception that the Verdi Club was only for Italians, he added, but pointed out that all are welcome.
“It’s open to the public,” he said. “It’s a meeting place for everyone. You don’t have to be Italian to come here. We will accommodate to your tastes and desires.”
Over the years, the club supported many charities, poker runs and other causes. He said the Verdi Club tried to reinvent itself over the years “but you’ve got to keep at it all the time.”
Muoio thanked the board of directors at the club and believed the sale satisfied a lot of what they wanted to accomplish. He believed both the club and the new buyer are happy with the outcome.
More details on what is to come to the site are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks but those plans are expected to include the existing Buono Bar & Grill.
“We are here for the community,” said Brad Hearn, a member of the new ownership group that also includes The Jones Group.