New event hall touts lower prices, ‘stress-free’ service

By Rosemary McCoy

Prairie View Event Hall might be an “ugly duckling” from the outside, but the inside is a different story.

The new owners are in the process of completely renovating the former All Occasions by Hy-Vee banquet hall west of the Tea exit on Interstate 29. Hy-Vee closed the hall last fall.

Prairie View is hosting events already as the first phase of remodeling wraps up. Only a dozen spots remain for weekend events in 2018, said general manager Tony Axtell, whose wife, Courtney, owns the business.

Axtell said he realizes that Prairie View “is not in the most ideal location” but its price and service will make up for that. The event hall has one goal for its bookings: “We want them to be stress-free events.”

Since taking over the building earlier this year, Prairie View has been updating the interior. Crews ripped out the floral carpeting that had been there for more than a decade and replaced it in the main 7,500-square-foot area with an epoxy surface. They’ve added wooden beams and support columns to enhance the ambience. There are new walls and fresh coats of paint.

The main entrance has been moved to the east side of the building so guests enter directly into the hall. The catering area has tripled in size and now has its own door rather than one guests use. The bar is being refurbished, too.

Updates for the bridal suite and groom’s room are next, Axtell said. In the fall, he’s planning to create a patio area on the west side for outdoor ceremonies. Next spring, he’ll do more landscaping to improve the appearance of the exterior.

During an event, one of three full-time coordinators is on-site to help with any issues, Axtell said. One of the coordinators is fluent in Spanish, which is helpful for hosting quinceaneras, he said. The Hispanic tradition of celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday is a growing market for event halls in the area.

Prairie View’s fee is $1,200 for a Friday event and $2,000 for Saturday, half of what some event halls in the area are charging, Axtell said. The rental covers 7 a.m. to midnight. Clients who book two days get the first day for half-price. Thursdays and Sundays are $950.

The hall advertises banquet seating for 450 guests, but it can seat 350 to 400 “with comfortable elbow-room for us big guys,” Axtell said.

The event hall doesn’t provide catering services, so clients are free to use whatever business they want. The same is true for all vendors. Axtell also runs Empire Productions, so weddings can get a discount if they use his DJ services.

In addition to weddings and other celebrations, Prairie View is a great setting for trade shows and corporate events, he said. It can seat almost 500 people, and the audio/visual equipment is provided. The fee is approximately $125 an hour, but the price is negotiable for longer events. Axtell said the rate for a recent four-day conference was $2,000.

Axtell is putting the building to use during nonevent hours, too. He also runs Empire Pro AV and uses the event hall to demonstrate equipment to customers.

Prairie View will host its own events, Axtell added. He envisions date nights, cooking and bartending classes, and touring entertainment shows. He’s looking into a New Year’s Eve ball.

“We’re excited to watch it grow.”

New event hall touts lower prices, ‘stress-free’ service

Prairie View Event Hall might be an “ugly duckling” from the outside, but the inside is a different story.

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