West Allis — In about a month, the name Knights of Columbus will disappear from the sign out front of the banquet hall at 3200 S. 103rd St., but the Knights' realm there isn't over.
The building, also including a catering service and bowling alley, is under the new ownership of Mike Jopp, who has run the facilities for 11 years under lease. However, the facility will continue to be the home of the Knights of Columbus Council 524, Jopp explained.
'The Knights will still use this as a clubhouse,' said Jopp, himself a Knight.
The banquet and catering facilities' new name, W.G.'s Banquet and Entertainment Center, will make it clear to brides and others planning large events that they don't have to belong to the Knights of Columbus to use the banquet facility, Jopp said.
Jopp will market the facility and name change during the Wonderful World of Weddings bridal show at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center in January.
As for the bowling alley, it adopted a new name — Wiseguys Bowling Entertainment — a year ago, he said.
The change in ownership itself follows a national trend for the Knights of Columbus groups, brought on in large part by dwindling membership, Jopp said. Some KC halls elsewhere have also closed, he noted.
The new ownership arrangement has meant a lot of changes already for the facility, which eventually will be remodeled from top to bottom.
Painting has been done and new carpeting laid, Jopp said. The bowling scoring system was upgraded and soon the seating will be remodeled. In February or March, the banquet hall will be redone.
The banquet hall accommodates 275 guests and has a full bar. The facility also has a smaller banquet center for up to 50.
The catering service has a chef and a kitchen and the 12-lane bowling alley has a full bar.
Before coming to the Knights of Columbus facility, Jopp owned a 300-seat banquet hall and restaurant called Untouchables Speak Eatery in Franklin from 1999 until selling them in 2003 to come to the Knights.
For a dozen years before that, Jopp owned and operated the Holiday Lanes bowling alley at 51st Street and Howard Avenue in Greenfield.
— Jane Ford-Stewart