The time Tom Jones spent a weekend partying and playing snooker at a B.C. ranch in 1981

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From 1981: Tom Jones and Umberto Menghi play a friendly game of snooker. – Mar 27, 2018

For years, a quaint yellow house in Downtown Vancouver was part of a restaurant owned by famed chef Umberto Menghi.

There, he ran Il Giardino restaurant, which closed in 2013 before opening in another location two years later.

Over the years, Menghi hosted stars like Johnny Depp, Anthony Quinn, Liza Minnelli and Julia Roberts.

WATCH: Vancouver’s ‘Little Yellow House’ being moved

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Vancouver’s ‘Little Yellow House’ being moved – Mar 27, 2018

One of Menghi’s fondest memories was having singer Tom Jones come into his restaurant on Hornby Street after a show and “leaving at breakfast time, nine in the morning, singing and having a nice meal with great wines.”

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On Tuesday, as the yellow house on Hornby Street was being relocated to make way for a new condo development, Menghi reminisced about the time in March 1981 when he, Jones and a group of friends spent a weekend at a B.C. ranch eating, drinking, being merry and enjoying a few games of snooker.

The Welsh Wonder was in Vancouver filming a syndicated variety TV show and Menghi said he wanted to spend some time in the great outdoors.

Jones, Menghi, prominent Vancouver socialite Jacqui Cohen and a group of friends flew by helicopter to 108 Mile Ranch with a crew from BCTV — now known as Global News — in tow.

“He had three days off and just wanted to rest,” Menghi said of Jones.

“He did a little horseback riding so he played the cowboy for a couple of minutes and then got off [the horse].”
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Over two days, they took part in a snooker tournament, with a prize of $10,000 going to charity, according to former Global BC reporter John Daly.

Menghi managed to beat Jones, but later lost to the singer’s manager Gordon Mills.

In between snooker matches, they had raucous meals filled with good food, wine and music.

“We had a cowboy there to cook lamb on the spit,” Menghi recalled. “We seasoned it to make sure that it was good. We didn’t have much trust in that cowboy.”

“These were crazy party animals,” Daly said. “They were skeet shooting, horseback riding, and everything. I was there to document it, but I was loath to partake in too much of it.”

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Daly recalled flying back to Burnaby on Monday to file a story for that night’s newscast only to learn it was being held due to breaking news — U.S. president Ronald Reagan had been shot.

Decades later, the 130-year-old house on Hornby Street where Menghi formed his friendship with Jones was relocated to make way for a new 39-storey development.

The house was moved lock-stock-and-barrel to a temporary location and will be moved back to its original location once construction on the development is complete.



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