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Cape Cabaret: New future for Italian American Club building

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

Italian American Club officers Ralph and Cathy Sangiovanni review plans with Cape Cabaret owners Joel and Carol Notes, manager Stephen Crum and executive chef Kristopher Bailey. JIM LINETTE

Cape Cabaret opened its doors earlier this week to a new era of entertainment excellence the owners say has never before been offered in Cape Coral.

The building on the corner of Vincennes Boulevard and Southwest 47th Terrace was constructed in 1968 as the home of the Italian American Club, the oldest social club in Cape Coral. As with most social clubs these days, like the Moose and Elks clubs, the membership has aged over the years and is unable to attract younger generations. The Italian American Club enjoyed the pinnacle of membership at about 1,500, but has been shrinking to the level of about 300 in recent years.

“When I took over as club president three years ago, I wanted to carry on the legacy of my parents, who helped found this club in 1966,” said Cathy Sangiovanni. “I wanted to make a difference in the community, but the expenses and overhead of maintaining such a large building just couldn’t be sustained.”

Enter Joel Notes, a resident of the area for 15 years. Notes purchased the building and has plans to turn it into a dining, dancing and entertainment mecca while allowing the Italian American Club to meet there and hold its own functions in the building.

“I want everyone to know that the Italian American Club is still here and so will enjoy this beautiful new home,” said Sangiovanni.

The 12,000-square-foot building is undergoing major renovations inside and out over the next several months and will be a state-of-the-art facility when completed. Phase one of the renovations includes upgrading the performance stage lighting and sound equipment comparable to that of large theaters.

“It’s entertainment on steroids by comparison,” said Notes. “There’s nothing like this at any bar or restaurant in the area and is up to the standard of theaters like Barbara B. Mann or Broadway Palm. I wanted to keep the best of the best of the Italian American Club and add to it, taking it to the next level.”

While the Italian American Club continues to use the facility and its members receive discounts to attend Cabaret events, Cape Cabaret is open to the public. It will operate five days a week, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Entertainment plans include booking top tribute performances like ones for Elvis Presley this Friday and Rod Stewart on Saturday. Other performers coming to the Cabaret in January include tributes to the Eagles, Abba, Buddy Holly and Jimmy Buffett.

“It’s a win-win for our club,” said Sangiovanni. “The Elvis tribute show is actually celebrating his birthday (Jan. 8).”

Italian American Club members will continue enjoying some of the usual functions, pasta buffet, and other familiar activities.

Cape Cabaret, with a seating capacity of 300, is offering an upscale menu under the watchful eye of executive chef Kristopher Bailey. Many different cuisines – not just Italian dishes – are represented on the menu.

The Cabaret also will continue to book space for wedding receptions, birthday parties, celebrations of life, office parties and meetings as well as many other functions.

“We will be able to hold three functions all at once,” said Notes, who is adding a bar area to the main performance area. All of the incandescent lighting in the building will be switched over to LED lighting that can turn different colors and change the level of brightness.

The sale of the building and opening of Cape Cabaret coincides with the 50th year of the Italian American Club’s exAistence in Cape Coral. The club was started by Joe and Grace Raso along with Jim and Shirley Pampinella in 1966 when few Italians lived here. The club first met at St. Andrew’s Parish Hall. The current club building opened two years later.

For more information visit www.capecabaret.com. For show reservations call 549-3000.

Cape Cabaret opened its doors earlier this week to a new era of entertainment excellence the owners say has never before been offered in Cape Coral. The building on the corner of Vincennes Boulevard and Southwest 47th Terrace was constructed in 1968 as the home of the Italian American Club, the oldest social club in Cape Coral. As with most social clubs these days, like the Moose and Elks clubs, the membership has aged over the years and is unable to attract younger generations.