The Canyon Club’s Lance Sterling isn’t your average club owner. He’s a civil engineer who knows how to calculate the wind load of a billboard and owns a 25-acre avocado ranch and is the man behind the “mission produce” avocados in local grocery stores.
Sterling grew up in upstate New York, in Woodstock. He says he “was born into music.” But he didn’t work in the music industry right out of college.
He graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in civil engineering and worked as a structural engineer for a billboard company for a couple of years.
“It wasn’t the most exciting job,” Sterling said. “And you make more money running a concert venue than in civil engineering.”
Sterling worked for Loews Hotel for a while, running the concerts and nightclubs, before getting recruited by House of Blues. While running House of Blues, he also owned a concert venue in Atlanta, GA.
“I lived one week in Atlanta and one week in Los Angeles,” Sterling said.
So he decided to sell that venue and move to Thousand Oaks. He thought about retiring at that point, but “wouldn’t do well just sitting at home,” so he purchased The Canyon Club in 2000, which was a banquet hall at the time, and transformed it into a very successful concert venue.
Its first operational day was New Year’s Eve in 2000 when more than 600 people showed up.
“It was a nightmare,” Sterling recalled. “We had to feed everyone à la carte meals within 45 minutes before the concert started.”
The Canyon Club books reservations mainly through an online portal where up to 600 guests can log on to select their seats for dinner and concert reservations. The venue can also hold up to 600 additional guests for concerts.
“We do what no one else does,” Sterling added. “You pick your seat online and you eat in that seat. After doing it for 15-16 years, we’re very good at it now.”
The Canyon Club is open for concerts, primarily Thursday through Sunday. It features 180-200 concerts a year and books entertainment 3 to 6 months in advance.
Some of the upcoming summer lineup includes Nipsey Hussle on July 25, The Boogie Knights on July 26, Boss in the USA on Aug. 1 and Tesla on Aug. 2.
“We don’t pick the entertainment, the customers do,” Sterling said. “People go on our website and make requests and we book what they want.”
A crowd of regulars frequents the venue, Sterling said, and come back 10-15 times a year.
“I recognize 90 percent of the people,” he said. “You’d be surprised, some people go to concerts like others go to movies.”
To top off his success as a club owner, Sterling opened The Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills a little over a year ago. The 2,000-seat theater is thriving.
“The concept of our venues is catered to 35-year-olds and up,” Sterling said. “People who like to enjoy dinner, drinks and entertainment.”
Sterling has five children ranging in age from 14 years old to 27 years old. He lives on a 25-acre avocado ranch in Ventura County. He grows avocados and supplies the “mission produce” avocados to the local grocery stores.
If he weren’t running the concert venues, Sterling says he would be coaching football.
“I love football,” Sterling said. “My children play football. I currently coach Pop Warner football.”
For more information about The Canyon Club, visit www.canyonclub.net.