Civic serves up rebuilt kitchen

Many of the “major movers” in getting the Civic Auditorium’s ballroom kitchen rebuilt and upgraded celebrated on Monday with champagne and a ribbon cutting. Pictured are, left to right, Beverly and Patrick Erickson, Ross Bailey, Nancy Fath, and Jerry McKay.

Slowly but surely, The Dalles Civic Auditorium, located at 323 E. Fourth Street, is being renovated — a section at a time. On Monday, another major piece of the puzzle fell into place, as the second-floor ballroom kitchen was completed after more than three years of planning, fundraising and effort.

To commemorate the milestone, a group of Civic Auditorium supporters celebrated the kitchen’s rebuilding with champagne and hors d’oevres in the ballroom.

After posing for a photo, benefactors of the historic Civic Auditorium — which was completed in 1922 and is now just five years from its 100th birthday — toured the remodeled and newly equipped kitchen and praised the scope of the improvements.

“I love it,” said Dennis Morgan, president of the Civic Auditorium Board of Directors. “It’s bright in here now. It was painted with super bright acrylic paint, and it just popped. It’s new and bigger, and has better equipment.”

The makeover was substantial. Old linoleum was torn out and replaced. The ceiling and walls were repainted. There was new drywall, new window blinds, and larger stainless steel counters were added. The nuts and bolts of the kitchen’s equipment were also sharply upgraded with a food disposal added for the first time, along with a new microwave, new freezer and a new food warmer that will keep meals efficiently heated for dozens of diners.

In all, the upgrades to the kitchen were valued at approximately $16,000.

Morgan pointed out that much of the work on the kitchen took place during January’s relentless weather conditions, including times when the gorge highways were closed and bringing in equipment was impacted. He said it was “a miracle” the project was completed as swiftly as it was given the conditions people had to deal with.

According to Elizabeth Wallis, program manager for the Civic, the new facility improved on an outdated kitchen that she said had not been refurbished since the 1960s —roughly 50 years ago.

“A lot of years went by,” Wallis said.

Beverly Erickson, a Civic Auditorium board member, said the kitchen’s flooring was so old and deteriorated that she could pull it up by hand, and believes revitalizing the kitchen is a huge step forward in the overall renovation plans for the landmark auditorium.

“This is such a huge deal,” Erickson said.

A large placard at the door of the kitchen listed the names of those who made the new kitchen a reality. The list included Jerry McKay and Nancy Fath, Patrick & Beverly Erickson, Bill Matthew, Dan & Mindy McHale of Hire Electric, Ron Hageman Builders, Leon Surber, Gary & Wendy Denney of Denney Floor Covering, Sherry Munro, and Ross Bailey.

“They really spearheaded this thing,” said Morgan.

To honor all the hard work to redo the kitchen, a small group of supporters held a commemorative party on Monday, including toasts with champagne, to thank all the donors and contributors.

“They all came together and are great friends to the Civic,” Erickson explained. “Without them, and without significant support from the community, this would not have been possible.”

“It was Ross Bailey’s idea in 2014, so it took about three years and three weeks,” added Wallis. “Once the donors stepped forward, it took about a month to get together the plans.”

Erickson pointed out that several local companies also played a strong role in helping out with the kitchen project, including Devco Mechanical, Oliver’s Flooring, and the local Sherwin-Williams paint store.

“We try to use local talent as much as possible,” Erickson said.

She added that it is very gratifying to see benefactors come together and complete a project that helps to lift the entire community.

“When people are willing to donate and make their vision a reality, it’s a great combination,” Erickson said.

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