NAMES: WALT HAEFFNER AND LAURA ADKINS
Jobs: Manager and events coordinator, O'Fallon Knights of Columbus at 402 E U.S. 50 in O'Fallon (618-632-6229)
Outlook: "We're trying to get it out there that we're not a closed society that you have to be a member to come in." (Walt Haeffner)
It is a little-known fact that the O'Fallon Knights of Columbus is open to the public. The hall's manager, Walt Haeffner, and events coordinator, Laura Adkins, would like to change that perception. The O'Fallon K of C, which opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1963, has completed an interior renovation on the first floor, after redoing the upper floor a few years ago. Haeffner and Adkins recently invited business writer Will Buss over to see the new and improved hall:
Q: What kind of renovation has been done?
Haeffner: "We started about a couple of months ago and we took out a couple of walls and moved walls around. We put in all new ceiling tile and we painted. We went green and put in LED high-efficiency lights. We put in new televisions and a new brick wall. We redid the entire bar and purchased all new furniture and took out the carpet and put in a new tile that looks like ceramic, but it's really vinyl. It holds up really well."
Q: Why the interior redesign?
Haeffner: "It was time to do it and we are trying to change our image. We want to get more people down here. We have entertainment now on the weekends. We're just trying to be more open to the public and facilitate the building so it's used more. Laura has rented the place for baby showers and birthday parties downstairs and upstairs and for weddings."
Q: What is the set up downstairs and upstairs?
Haeffner: "We have a bar downstairs and upstairs. But basically downstairs is more or less the bar and kitchen area. It's more for parties and for the public to come in and have a cocktail and enjoy some entertainment. Upstairs is basically for weddings, bingo and parties of a bigger variety from 150 to 300 people. We also do trivia nights upstairs."
Adkins: "When I take a call for a rental, I basically give the person two options: The lower level can accommodate up to 80 guests comfortably. A lot of times we have birthday parties and baby showers down here. Upstairs, we can accommodate up to 300 and that is more for trivia nights, weddings and various fund-raising events. Those larger events if they need the space and they are going to have 300 people, we have that for them. Sometimes we have events both upstairs and downstairs."
Q: People do not know that you're open to the public?
Haeffner: "The other day, I got a call from a lady on voice mail and she said, 'We're not members. I don't know if we can rent the place.' That's the main thing we have to get out, that we're open to the public. In fact, we have the Shriners who meet here on the first Tuesday of the month. And a couple months ago, one of the guys who has lived here all of his life said to me, 'You're open to the public?' Yah, we are. We're not just open for (members)."
Adkins: "We have meetings here. The O'Fallon Police meet here on Wednesdays, the Corvette Club meets here, the Rotary Club meets here on Thursday nights. We want to serve the community and are trying to make money as well, obviously. We have a fish fries on Fridays and entertainment on the weekend. We're trying to get it out there that we're not a closed society that you have to be a member to come in."
Q: How much did the renovation cost?
Haeffner: "About $96,000."
Adkins: "People who have not been here in a while and they come down here, they are amazed at the change."
Q: What else should people know about the K of C hall?
Haeffner: "We are open Tuesdays through Sundays. We open at 3 o'clock, generally. The kitchen is open from 4 to 8 (p.m.)."
Adkins: "You can come in on a Tuesday night and get a burger. We have all-you-can-eat wings on Wednesdays. We're not just fish fries on Fridays. We're trying to get the word out to come out for dinner during the week, too."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.