Just three months after opening a 7,800-square-foot event space in the Harbor District Foamation Inc. Cheesehead Factoryis expanding that line of its business to meet demand for smaller, more intimate wedding venues.
The Milwaukee-based manufacturer of the iconic cheesehead hat will soon take over the former Cuvee Champagne Lounge in the Historic Third Ward for its second locale, The Loft on Broadway.The 6,200-square-foot space, located on the upper level of a building at 177 N. Broadway, is expected to be fully operational by late spring. The company has signed a lease for the space, with plans to update the lighting, windows and bar area while maintaining its elegance and charm, said Sarah Duff, director of events and marketing at Foamation.
The move to look for a second venue, Duff said, was driven by responses from couples who had toured Foamation's expansive 300-person 'Factory on Barclay' in Milwaukee's Harbor District earlier this year in search of the ideal wedding venue in the era of COVID-19.
"Couples were looking for a more intimate space for smaller groups," she said "With COVID, people either postponed, canceled or just were looking to downsize groups for the comfort of their guests." Seating about 250 people at full capacity, The Loft is not too much smaller than The Factory, and the two concepts are similar, but for some couples the ceiling height of the room makes a big difference in its overall feel, Duff said. "At the factory our ceilings are two-story high, at the loft it's single story," she said. "That in and of itself is just really the biggest asset that creates the intimacy that some of our groups are looking for. While the factory is beautiful, it's just maybe not their style because it is so grand." At least for now, The Loft's target group size will be 125 to 175 people, which is about half its total capacity. That allows for proper social distancing and accounts for lingering capacity restrictions next year.
Duff said Foamation is already receiving inquiries for The Loft, and a few events that were rescheduled from this year have been booked.
Transforming part of the company's manufacturing facility at 1120 S. Barclay St. into an event venue was a significant endeavor that included a major building renovation and purchase of an adjacent warehouse. And once The Factory on Barclay venue finally opened in October, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it hosted only a few of its scheduled fall weddings before the city tightened restrictions on mass gatherings.
These days at The Factory, there aren't any events booked for this winter due to the city's 10-person cap on gatherings. Most couples aren't booking weddings until summer or later in the year anyway because they don't want to take chances, said Duff.
Corporate event bookings at The Factory are also making a comeback.
"We have begun to receive corporate event inquiries beginning for dates in third quarter of next year so that’s falling right in line with what we expected to happen," she said.