Banquet facilities will be impacted when clubhouse opens late spring

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, February 21, 2009

With the opening of the new clubhouse at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club & Estates in the late spring, the dynamic of banquet facilities in Albert Lea and the surrounding area will be changing.

The Wedgewood Cove clubhouse, slated to open in May to be ready for weddings in June, is a 38,000-square-foot facility that consists of a bar, dining room, banquet room, social area, pro shop and storage area for golf equipment, to name a few of the amenities.

Paul Field, one of the owners of the development, said the facility will not only be a resource for people who come to golf, but it will also be a facility for the rest of the public as well.

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Jim Hoium, food and beverage director for Wedgewood Cove, said though the facility is not yet completely constructed and decorated there have already been 12 weddings booked from June through October, eight class reunions and numerous other dinner parties and Christmas parties booked for later in the year. Without even having a real marketing campaign up and running for the clubhouse, he said the word had spread well about the new facility.

When asked how he thought the new clubhouse would affect other banquet facilities in Albert Lea, Hoium responded: “I feel that it will keep more banquets in the Albert Lea area. As far as I know, there has been some banquets that have been going to the Austin and Owatonna Holiday Inn.”

He said he doesn’t think the new clubhouse will affect any of the local businesses that provide banquet facilities. If anything, it will keep other facilities outside of the city from drawing out Albert Lea’s business.

Carl Cochlin, Ramada Inn manager, said he thinks the Ramada will probably lose some business down the road, but as far as banquets go for this year, they are scheduled pretty well.

“It’s going to take until 2010 to figure out what kind of impact it’s going to make,” Cochlin said.

The Ramada Inn’s banquet facilities can serve up to 400 people when all of the partitions are opened completely, he said.

Vic Nelson, manager of the Elks Club, said he thinks a lot of people will try out Wedgewood Cove’s facility just because it’s the new facility in town. He didn’t seem too worried, though, about business at the fraternal lodge.

Wedgewood Cove’s banquet facility, which is called The Vineyard, can serve up to 480 people when the partitions are all opened. The banquet area can also be divided into halves and thirds.

In The Vineyard there are different menu selections for people who request plated served dinners, including a salad, a main plate and a dessert. People who reserve the space can also select buffet style meals, and hors d’oeuvres can be ordered for either before the meal or with the meal.

The price range is $12 to $22 per person, Hoium said.

Right outside the banquet room is a social area that can accommodate 250 people, where people can either wait in before they go into a reception or come out to for a more personalized discussion.

There is a permanent, fully-stocked bar to serve the social area and the banquet room.

Hoium pointed out that there are will be audio-visual equipment available for the banquet room.

The banquet room provides “excellent” views of the lake to the south and views of the golf course as well, he said. There’s also a wrap-around deck on the building that comes around on one side of the building and then goes to the golf course level.

The bar, dining room and banquet room are serviced by two different cook lines — one for the banquet facility and one for the bar and dining room.

The kitchens contain sophisticated equipment designed by Premier Restaurant & Design Co., Hoium said.

The bar and grill, called Cove Bar & Grill, can entertain up to 75 people. The menu is more casual and includes a variety of sandwiches and other appetizers.

The dining room, called The Wedgewood, has a combination of tables and booths to seat 102 people, with a menu that includes a variety of steaks, fish, seafood and salads. There’s also a private dining area that can be reserved for up to 16 people, he said.

Hoium said comparing prices for other bars and dining rooms, items are affordable and will fit most people’s budgets.

In addition to the banquet and dining facilities in the clubhouse, on one end of the building is a pro shop with apparel and golf merchandise, the director said. All the golf carts are going to be equipped with Global Positioning Systems.

There will also be a large patio area along the north side of building that will run parallel to the golf course for outside entertaining, he said. And there will be a finished lakeshore area to give people the opportunity for outdoor weddings.

A geothermal field to the south will heat and cool the whole facility.

When it comes to reserving the facility, Hoium said it’s good to book events a year in advance. If people are flexible where they just have a particular month in mind, they’d have an easier time reserving. But if someone has a specific day in mind, they should reserve at least eight months in advance.

Crews from Larson Contracting, Jim & Dudes, Albert Lea Electric, Johnson Heating and Home Solutions Midwest have been busy in recent weeks working on the facility, Field said. Construction started slow in October, but in December the pace started to pick up once again.


1913: The Albert Lea Country Club was founded in the Shoreland Heights area.

1923: The Albert Lea Country Club moved to west of Lakeview Boulevard and south of Richway Drive near Edgewater Park.

1949: Green Lea Golf Course was established.

1984: Jeff and Denise Elseth purchased Green Lea.

Fall 2005: Clayton Petersen purchased the property now included in the Wedgewood Cove plats from the Albert Lea Port Authority.

February 2006: Scott LaFavre purchased the Wedge Nursery.

April 2006: LaFavre signed a purchase agreement for the 18-hole Albert Lea Golf Club. He said he planned to turn the 100-acre course into a 120-lot high-end residential development with the name Eagle’s Rest.

May 2006: LaFavre closed the deal to purchase the Albert Lea Golf Club.

July 2006: The Albert Lea Planning Commission recommended approval of the preliminary plat of Eagle’s Rest development.

July 2006: Petersen and real-estate broker Hugh O’Byrne first proposed a plan to build a golfing community to Albert Lea city officials.

October 2006: The Albert Lea City Council approved the preliminary plat for the 18-hole Wedgewood Cove golfing community.

January 2007: Wedgewood Cove developers O’Byrne and Petersen submitted a request for the city to bond for the infrastructure, engineering costs and inspection fees for the development. The Albert Lea City Council voted to require the Wedgewood Cove developers to provide a risk analysis of their project before the city would consider a loan through the city’s bonding capacity.

January 2007: O’Byrne and Petersen announced they were not going forth with their golfing community plans.

February 2007: Albert Lea City officials gave Wedgewood Cove developers an official list of requirements for completing a risk analysis.

May 2007: The Albert Lea City Council approved phase one and two of the development agreement for Eagle’s Rest.

June 2007: The Wedgewood Cove partnership changed. It went O’Byrne and Petersen to Petersen, Paul Field of Home Solutions and Jerry Vogt of Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen.

July 2007: A foreclosure notice for $50,000 was filed against the Eagle’s Rest Development.

September 2007: The City Council approved the annexation of about 110 acres of land west of U.S. Highway 69 and east of Wedgewood Road.

October 2007: Albert Lea Township supervisors voted to table the request for annexation of about 110 acres of land west of U.S. Highway 69 and east of Wedgewood Road.

October 2007: A foreclosure notice for $937,500 was filed against the Eagle’s Rest development.

December 2007: The City Council approved the Wedgewood Cove development agreement.

December 2007: A ceremonial groundbreaking took place at the Wedgewood Cove project.

December 2007: American Bank of St. Paul purchased the 100-acre former Albert Lea Golf Club during a public auction of the property.

August 2008: The Albert Lea City Council approved the final plat for the Wedgewood Cove first and second additions.

September 2008: LaFavre’s company Eagle’s Rest Tree Farms filed Chapter 12 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

October 2008: The Wedgewood Cove Golf Club & Estates announced a change in partnership. Clayton Petersen sold his interest to Jerry Vogt and Paul Field.

December 2008: Minneapolis-based Delinear Concepts LLC filed an official notice with the Freeborn County Recorder’s Office of its intention to redeem the 100-acre former Albert Lea Golf Club.

December 2008: LaFavre’s Eagle’s Rest Development filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

December 2008: A permit with a valuation of $2.5 million was issued for the construction of the new Wedgewood Cove clubhouse on West Ninth Street.

January 2009: LaFavre’s company Eagle’s Rest Tree Farms voluntarily withdrew its bankruptcy declaration in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.