The jukebox still rocks in Flower’s Cove
A jukebox playing vinyl records remains in prominent use at family restaurant
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.
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.