JoAnna Asplund has joined the nearly century-old club, and is on a mission to reinvent it to appeal to modern families and attract members in their 30s and 40s. The club has been closed since January 1 to update the clubhouse with fresh paint, artwork, a kitchen renovation, and revamped menus from new Executive Chef Joseph Maden, with a reopening scheduled for February.
JoAnna Asplund, the new General Manager of Longview (Wash.) Country Club says the nearly century-old club needs a refresh, the Longview Daily News reported.
“People’s lifestyles are changing,” says Asplund, who was appointed in September, is on a mission to reinvent the club to appeal to busy modern families and attract new members in their 30s and 40s. “Country clubs are learning that they have to reinvent themselves.”
The club has been temporarily closed since January 1 as the contractors give the clubhouse a facelift. It will reopen sometime in February, depending on the pace of construction. There’s fresh paint, new artwork and oversized, lighted letters spelling out the word “bar,” and there are new displays to showcase an updated selection of liquors and specialty wines, the Daily News reported.
The kitchen is also getting a $75,000 overhaul with a new layout and equipment that Asplund says will make cooking more efficient and better suited to modern cooking techniques. She’s also hired a new Executive Chef from Idaho, Joseph Maden, who originally is from Rainier, Wash., the Daily News reported.
“He’s very progressive in his way of thinking (about cooking), but at the same time he knows how to accommodate our demographic,” Asplund said. “We’re a steak-and-potatoes community, but he’ll take those items and be creative with it.”
Along with new dining and banquet menus, the restaurant is adding a selection of Northwest wines and local craft beers from Ashtown Brewing Co. and Five Dons Brewery. Scotch tasting events also are on the horizon, the Daily News reported.
And to draw in younger families, Asplund said the club will host more family-oriented events such as movie nights, kids’ golf days and swim lessons. After the kitchen renovation, Asplund wants to make the pool heated so it can be used year-round instead of just the summer. She also hopes to get the club more involved in community events, such as the recent Christmas toy drive, the Daily News reported.
Several members have pitched into the remodeling efforts, raising money for the nonprofit and volunteering to repaint and clean, she said. “Our members are so dedicated to keeping this organization sustainable. The amount of volunteering that has taken place, I wouldn’t have been able to do this without our members,” she added.
Asplund has more than 20 years of restaurant and retail experience under her belt. Most recently she worked as the director of retail sales at St. John Medical Center, where she helped to add a new coffeehouse and run the cafeteria and gift shop. “I had done what I could for (St. John), and I wanted a new project and challenge. I knew that the country club had kind of been stagnant for a while,” she said.
Membership at Longview Country Club has dropped from about 500 in the 1980s to about 350 to 375 today, said Edna Ostermiller, club board president. And the club’s revenue has also suffered as aging members switched from more expensive golf memberships to social memberships, she said. (Golf memberships are $250 for an individual and $300 for a family. Social memberships are $100 for an individual and $150 for a family.) Ostermiller added that Asplund has stabilized the club’s revenue in the first few months of her tenure, in addition to cutting costs by reducing waste, the Daily News reported.
Currently you have to be a member or a guest of a member to dine at the restaurant or bar, but the club is considering opening the restaurant up to the public on some nights, though nothing is finalized, Ostermiller said.
The Longview Country Club had already dropped its no-jeans policy when Asplund came on board, but with a upgraded restaurant, new menu and new family programs she expects the club to grow, the Daily News reported.
“I knew it was going to a challenge, but I think it would be unfortunate if the country club wasn’t it around. There’s years of history here,” she said. “It has a lot of potential to be a great thing for the community.”