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Red Jacket Ballroom to see kitchen improvements

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The kitchen in the Red Jacket Ballroom, outdated and inefficient, is about to receive a complete makeover, which should be completed before winter sets in.

CALUMET — The Red Jacket Ballroom, located on the second floor of the Calumet Theatre, is available for wedding receptions, family reunions, baby showers, graduation parties, or other social events. The ballroom, which can be rented through the Calumet Theatre, can accommodate up to 250 people and features a stage, small PA system, piano and kitchenette that includes one regular-sized, and one smaller-sized refrigerators and a full-sized stove. Unfortunately, the stove is an older electric model like that one would expect to find in grandma’s kitchen. That, however, is about to change.

“We received a heritage grant for kitchen improvements to the ballroom’s kitchen,” Theatre Executive Director Marlin Lee said. “So, we’re going to be totally re-doing (it), before the end of the year. And to me, that’s going to be kind of a game-changer for us as far as some events we can do up there, for rentals.”

Marlin said that because of the limitations of the kitchen’s capabilities, the ballroom has been unable to compete with other halls in the area.

“Other than it is the Red Jacket Ballroom, with its history and all that,” he said, “compared with other places, the ballroom isn’t up to par.”

In considering the Theatre’s grant match obligation, one of the board members is in partnership with a restaurant, Marlin said, and was able to secure donations of some “really top-notch kitchen equipment.”

The kitchen improvements include new storage, the look and design of which is being considered in keeping with the historical appearance of the ballroom.

“We’re going to rip out the old cabinets and stuff, and we’re actually probably going to put some stuff in there that looks a little more period-oriented,” said Marlin. “We’re going to have to bring (the kitchen area) out about six feet, but that’s really not restricting a lot as far as the space for events. We just have to make more room to accommodate the kitchen equipment and stuff that we’ve got coming in.”

The current kitchen stove will also be replaced. Among the kitchen equipment donations is a new, restaurant-grade, gas-fueled range, with eight burners. The stove, currently is on the theatre stage, said Marlin, but will be moved upstairs once the cabinets have been removed and there is room upstairs for it.

Another game-changer, said Marlin,is that beer and wine will also be sold in the ballroom during special events. That does not mean the Theatre has applied for a liquor license, however, which Marlin was specific in stating, and there are restrictions.

“What we’re doing is single-event licenses for particular shows,” he explained. “It’s not going to be hard liquor, it’s just going to be beer and wine.”

Alcohol consumption is not permitted outside the ballroom, which includes no drinking in the Theatre. But now, said Marlin, people can come in an hour before the show, and enjoy a drink, then during intermission, can go to the ballroom and enjoy a beer or a glass of wine, then enjoy the second half of the show.

“Financially, that’s huge for us,” he said. “Having done this for other venues, typically most venues do not make a living off the gate. You hope your gate will pay your expenses. You ask any bar that has live music, and even if they have a cover charge, they make their money off the bar.”

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