The juke­box still rocks in Flower’s Cove

A juke­box play­ing vinyl records re­mains in prom­i­nent use at fam­ily restau­rant

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - KYLE GREENHAM

FLOWER’S COVE, NL – Though rarely seen today, a once-pop­u­lar mu­si­cal ar­ti­fact re­mains in use at L&E Restau­rant in Flower’s Cove.

Filled with seven-inch vinyl records, the restau­rant juke­box is some­thing owner Linda Rose has al­ways kept a sta­ple of her en­ter­prise.

“Ever since I’ve been in busi­ness, I’ve had a juke­box,” said Rose.

Pur­chased through the Bren­nan fam­ily in Stephenville Cross­ing, Rose has had a juke­box at her restau­rant for 43 years.

“A lot of peo­ple say to take it out, but I can’t,” said Rose. “I like it here, and peo­ple love to come and play the songs.”

The juke­box busi­ness

Paul Bren­nan’s fa­ther started the com­pany JBL Amuse­ments Ltd. in 1954. They col­lected juke­boxes since then but stopped eight years ago. The last juke­boxes they pur­chased were de­signed for CDs, but Bren­nan says vinyl juke­boxes are still be­ing man­u­fac­tured by com­pa­nies in the States.

He says his com­pany had to stop pur­chas­ing juke­boxes due to the dif­fi­culty in sell­ing them and the in­creas­ing price of up­keep and main­te­nance.

“We don’t sell them un­less I’ve gone through them, get­ting at any ad­just­ments, mak­ing sure the am­pli­fiers and ev­ery­thing is in or­der,” Bren­nan said. “It takes a full four days of work (to ser­vice) one, and then I play it for a month be­fore I sell it off.”

Bren­nan likes to en­sure the qual­ity of the prod­uct be­fore sell­ing it, though he does rou­tinely travel to re­pair ma­chines he’s sold – rang­ing from juke­boxes to pin­ball ma­chines and other ar­cade games.

“I’ve had cases where some­one kept the juke­box be­side a heater and it warped all the records,” Bren­nan said.

He was re­cently in Nor­ris Point re­pair­ing a juke­box that dated back to 1961. There is also one he sold in Daniel’s Har­bour.

The col­lec­tion of records con­tained in­side Rose’s juke­box are not all relics from the vinyl era. Many of the sin­gles in­side are from the ‘90s by singers like Brit­ney Spears or Kid Rock.

Bren­nan says dur­ing this pe­riod, record com­pa­nies sought to phase out vinyl in favour of the CD.

“The record com­pa­nies forced us out of it,” he said. “The last artists would be peo­ple like Toby Keith and Alan Jackson. When they signed con­tracts, they put out their mu­sic on 45s, but then the record com­pa­nies started telling the singers ev­ery­thing had to put out on CD. But now, vinyl has be­come more pop­u­lar again.

“Vinyl makes a big dif­fer­ence in sound.”

Now that de­mand has de­creased, the cost of re­pairs and re­place­ments for ma­chines like juke­boxes and pin­ball games has been an in­creas­ing bur­den on JBL Amuse­ments.

Bren­nan is cur­rently re­pair­ing an Elvis Pres­ley-themed pin­ball ma­chine, but the in­creas­ing cost of parts is di­min­ish­ing his prof­its.

“It’s quite the in­vest­ment and it’s hard to make money at it now,” he said. “If the juke­box needs 100 45s, with ship­ping it’s nearly five bucks for each record. The best sound­ing juke­box has the tube type am­pli­fier, but today the tubes cost $700. It’s hard to re­pair it and then sell it off for $700.

“They’re not sell­ing the vol­umes, so they’re try­ing to put up prices wher­ever they can. It makes it harder on us.”

At one time, Rose had the first juke­box owned by Bren­nan’s fa­ther. It was a truly an­tique juke­box, where the records could be seen com­ing up the stack list and be­ing placed down be­fore the nee­dle.

But out of fear of any­thing hap­pen­ing to it, she gave it back to the Bren­nan’s.

Rose’s son Danny also pur­chased a juke­box from the fam­ily, and plays it in his base­ment.

KYLE GREENHAM / THE NORTH­ERN PEN

The juke­box on dis­play at L&E Restau­rant in Flower’s Cove plays vinyl records, from early ‘60s clas­sics like Wild Thing to sin­gles by pop­u­lar groups from the ‘90s like Brit­ney Spears. Through her 43 years in the busi­ness, owner Linda Rose has made a juke­box a sta­ple of her restau­rant.

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