Dancing to a new tune

Six years after opening The Firm (now the Lava Ultra Lounge) in downtown Red Deer, Quan Diep is broadening his business reach.

Quan Diep checks his email under the laser and other lights of the Plaza’s dance floor.

Quan Diep checks his email under the laser and other lights of the Plaza’s dance floor.

Six years after opening The Firm (now the Lava Ultra Lounge) in downtown Red Deer, Quan Diep is broadening his business reach.

The 32-year-old quietly launched The Plaza nightclub a little over a week ago, and expects to be serving clientele at The Med Grill & Bar before year end.

Despite the still shaky economy, Diep believes the city is ready for something new, both on the dancing and the dining fronts.

The Plaza occupies the 5004 48 St. premises that were previously the site of Sambuca Sam’s. Diep gutted and redesigned the space — with IMC Construction Ltd. his general contractor — and added a new sound and laser system.

“If you had to compare it to something, it’d be like a laser you’d find in a Pink Floyd concert,” he said. “It does amazing stuff.”

The sound system, continued Diep, is designed to keep volumes at a comfortable level for non-dancers.

“But the minute you step onto the dance floor, it’s loud.”

Diep has instituted a $5 cover charge and a dress code at The Plaza. The latter restriction, he said, covers things like backward hats, tattered shoes, sweats and gang colours.

“With our dress code, it’s more neat-casual than anything,” he said.

That, and The Plaza’s nominal cover charge, should help discourage the less desirable element from congregating there, hopes Diep.

“The people who will respect rules, like a dress code or cover charge, are the people you want to come out.

“It’s just creating a better, safe, fun environment.”

The Plaza’s opening has been kept low-key to allow staff, which Diep expects to eventually number around 30, to familiarize themselves with the club and its systems.

Meanwhile, work on The Med Grill & Bar is nearing completion.

Situated on the west side of the Old Brew Plaza at 5301 43rd St., the restaurant will feature a sports lounge and dining spread over three levels. It will have seating for about 140.

Diep said his general manager there will be Pete Sok, who managed The Keg Steakhouse and Bar in Red Deer.

“He’s opened up seven Kegs. He knows his stuff.”

Helping design the Mediterranean-influenced cuisine is a chef Diep said previously worked under Marco Pierre White, of Hell’s Kitchen Europe fame.

Lava Ultra Lounge owes its existence to Diep’s decision to plot out the venture while taking business at Mount Royal College in Calgary.

“One of my projects, I had to make a business plan. So I did a business plan on something I know, which is the club scene.”

The Red Deer resident, whose family owns and operates the Pho Thuy Dong Vietnamese Restaurant in the city, decided to transform his hypothetical business into reality. The Firm was the result.

Diep’s interests in entertainment includes AEC Live, a business through which he promotes live performers across Canada. He’s organized shows involving the likes of 50 Cent, Matthew Good, Dwight Yoakam, Snoop Dogg and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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