Industrial Vintage Event Venue Now Open in Burlington

Industrial Vintage Event Venue Now Open in Burlington

New banquet hall opens in Burlington

MICHAEL BURKE mburke@journaltimes.com

 

May 6, 2017

BURLINGTON — This city’s new banquet hall and event center, Mercantile Hall, is proving to be a regional draw for brides and grooms. Its owner thinks the new venue also has great potential to become a community hub, especially for teenagers.

Mercantile Hall, 425 N. Pine St., is part of the redevelopment project rising from the ashes of the former Schuette-Daniels Furniture store, which burned in an April 5, 2014, fire and never reopened. Local businessman Shad Branen, owner of Burlington’s Plaza Theater and WIN (formerly Wisconsin Information Network) Media, bought and is redeveloping the building that he calls The Mercantile.

Wendy Lynch, owner of Bon Bon Belle Bridal, created Mercantile Hall, which debuted with its first event, a wedding, on April 29. It was also shown off to the public Saturday as one of the 60-plus Open House Racine County sites. (Lynch also plans to move her bridal shop into the building’s second floor sometime this summer.)

Mercantile Hall, comprised of 6,000 square feet on the building’s first floor, can accommodate up to 280 people for an event, Lynch said. So far, she and hall Manager Stephanie Heft have booked nearly 70 events. The vast majority of them are weddings, for which hall rental ranges from $2,700 to $3,500.

They’ve also booked a class reunion, a fundraiser and a graduation. Lynch also expects to host corporate events. She said her event bookings are coming from as far away as the Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison areas.

Spreading the wealth

Lynch said Mercantile Hall is showing that, right from its first event, it will have a beneficial impact on other Burlington and area businesses. The venue is served by caterers; clients are given a list of several in the area to consider.

The hall’s first bride came from Madison, and the couple were married at a local barn, Lynch said. The couple held both their rehearsal dinner and a cocktail reception after the wedding at The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine. And some guests went to a local bar and local restaurant, Lynch said.

“Each weekend we’ll expose (people) to Burlington,” she said.

She thinks other complementary shops could see spinoff business, because within easy walking distance of Mercantile Hall are two florists, a menswear shop and a jeweler.

Future activities for teenagers

In addition to being a banquet and event hall, Lynch plans on Mercantile Hall serving an important function for the local community, as a gathering place, especially for teenagers.

Lynch hopes to launch a weekly teenage trivia night before the school year ends. That will be followed by Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle-type competitions and also karaoke-style battle of the bands.

“Just having that kind of safe place they can go to socialize, hang out and do something different,” she explained. “I have two up-and-coming teens,” Lynch added.

“My passion is really community,” she said, “and how (Mercantile Hall) is being received is so neat and fulfilling. The fact that we can have these things for teens is just so cool.”

For more information about Mercantile Hall call 262-758-6280 or visit www.mercantilehall.com.

New banquet hall, bridal shop coming to Burlington

BURLINGTON — Two key tenants were announced Thursday for The Mercantile, local businessman Shad Branen’s redevelopment of the former Schuette-Daniels Furniture.

Wendy Lynch, owner of Christy’s Bon Bon Belle Bridal, will open a new banquet hall/meeting space to be called Mercantile Hall in the entire first floor of The Mercantile, 425 N. Pine St.

Lynch will also move her bridal shop from 489 Milwaukee Ave. to The Mercantile. That business, the name of which will be slightly shortened to Bon Bon Belle Bridal, will occupy about one-third of the second floor, tentatively starting in January.

And as Branen said earlier, most of the basement will become a new co-working and business incubator space; Thursday he announced it will be called C/O, for Central Office. C/O will have amenities including a conference room and lounge. The basement will also contain private offices that will be for lease.

Branen said Thursday he is still working to finalize leases for the remaining space.

Lynch credited a key employee of her bridal business, Stephanie Heft, with the idea that The Mercantile’s 6,000-square-foot first floor would be a great space for a banquet/event hall. With that in mind, Lynch looked at it and, “I thought it was a no-brainer.”

Heft, who has many years of wedding experience, will manage Mercantile Hall, Lynch said. It should open next spring, she added.

Lynch expects the hall will host mostly weddings, wedding receptions and corporate meetings. She has arrangements with several caterers, mostly local, that renters of the hall will be able to choose from.

“I want it to really become a hub for the community,” Lynch said. To that end, she said Mercantile Hall will host events strictly designed for teenagers, such as team trivia nights and Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle-type competitions. The hall will both organize and host them.

Moving the bridal shop that Lynch bought in 2013 will gain her about 600 square feet and increase the bridal suites from one now to four — as well as putting the business on one floor instead of two. She will hire someone to manage the business.

From the ashes

Branen, owner of Burlington’s Plaza Theater and WIN (formerly Wisconsin Information Network) Media, is redeveloping the former high-end furniture building. After it was damaged by an April 5, 2014, fire, the store went out of business.

Branen later bought the property, which includes an adjacent smaller building, from the Daniels family. He had the main building gutted to its brick walls and is installing an elevator as part of the project.

For the project that Branen has said will approach $1 million in cost, he was aided by a $192,833 Community Development Investment Grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. His financing package also includes façade grant money from the City of Burlington.