New London VFW Runs Out of Money and Patrons To Stay Open
The New London VFW recently closed its door for good, despite the recent fundraising efforts and fish fries that were used as an effort to keep it open. Chris Gregory of the VFW said closing down the New London location was something that was seen as inevitable.
“Things have been very tight, and we had a difficult time keeping the building going and keeping the patronage” said Gregory. “It cost a lot to maintain the building and staff it” added Gregory. “Long story short, it just got to be too much.”
Ultimately the time it took to maintain the building and the costs associated became too much for the VFW’s limited volunteer base.
“You used to staff it by volunteers, but it not the same as it was in the 50’s and 60’s. When you lose the patronage, that becomes the decline of the VFW business.”
Gregory thinks that public perception may have contributed to the lack of patronage, as they may not have known it was a full bar and restaurant that was open to the public. Gregory added that the generation of vets who would utilize the facility, are starting to pass away. New London Chamber Director Laurie Shaw says the VFW’s closing is a loss for the community.
“I would call it a gathering place for many and they had a history of having good food” said Shaw. “It is just really sad to see it close.”
Fortunately New London veterans still have other avenues to gather in the city, says Shaw.
“We do have a legion hall that many veterans go to and other gathering places, but they will not have that home base gathering place anymore.”
The decision to officially shut down the building came within the last week. The VFW itself will remain operational, however the VFW as a business will no longer be running. Gregory said the building, once sold, will be ideally set up to become another bar and restaurant, and it is possible that the facility could still be used a location that veterans would attend.
“We just need someone to run it who has made the investment or have some skin in the game, the days of how it used to be are just not the same anymore” said Gregory. “It is too much for anyone of us to handle.”
Gregory said New London is not the only location in this situation.
“Many bar and restaurant business VFW’s are shutting down, New London is one of the last in the state to survive.”
The Shawano VFW location is a meeting location with a bar that is open to the public, but they do not provide a restaurant option. Phil Nelson, of the Shawano VFW Post 2723 said much of their work is still volunteer, and once in a while they do have to pay someone to bar tend.