Friday, June 13, 2003

Banquet hall makes its debut


Sapphire Room opens tonight

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Karl Lietzenmayer of the Kenton County Historical Society considered buying and rehabbing the 19th century German National Bank building in Covington a couple of years ago - until he went inside.

"It was such a mess," he recalls. "The original ceiling was there, but not much else."

Tony Kreutzjans and Alex Edmondson looked at it soon after.

"The ceiling is what we fell in love with," said Kreutzjans. "It's 21 feet high with curved box beams and skylights."

Tonight, Kreutzjans, Edmondson and Traci Griffin will open the historic structure as the Sapphire Room, a full-service banquet hall at 611 Madison Ave.

The equal partners in the venture poured close to $300,000 into the building, according to Kreutzjans. He said all funding had to come from private sources with no help from the city, since Edmondson is a city commissioner. But they feel it's a risk worth taking.

"There are not a lot of banquet facilities this size," said Kreutzjans. "It's an old ... unique building that you won't find in the suburbs."

Lietzenmayer said the buildings in that area were constructed in the 1870s. He said the Sapphire Room was originally German National Bank, then Liberty Bank, and finally Macy's jewelry store.

The two-story structure has been vacant for nearly two decades.

"We're really excited about having something that nice next door," said Kathy Johns of Motch Jewelers, which has been at its location on Madison Avenue since 1871. "It's unbelievable what they've done to it."

What they've done is described by Kreutzjans as a "gut job" - a new roof, new plumbing, new electric, and new drywall. There's a grand iron staircase, Italian chandeliers, marble at the entrance and in the restrooms, and mahogany wood used throughout. The ceiling and mantle are original.

All the rehab work was done by Ashley Development in Edgewood, where Kreutzjans is a project coordinator.

Griffin, who has a background in marketing and advertising, also does interior design work. She joined Edmondson and Kreutzjans as a partner after offering suggestions on how to decorate it.

"This is something Northern Kentucky has been missing," she said. "It has elegance and character, and it's not too big."

They hope to attract a variety of events, including wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, reunions, business meetings, and political fund-raisers.

"This is the first banquet hall on a smaller, elegant scale in Covington for an intimate gathering," said Kristi Nader, executive director of the Covington Business Council. "It's a great look and such a wonderful use for an old building."

E-mail williamcroyle@enquirer.com




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