Best of Lawrence Profile: Venue 1235 aims to transform events into lasting memories

Chase Westheffer, owner of Venue 1235, stands at the bar in his 6,000 square foot venue that is located just off the Kansas Turnpike in North Lawrence. In addition to the bar, there is a caterer’s kitchen, a large outdoor space, and a private suite.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored content produced by the Journal-World’s advertising department. Businesses who received a top three award in the Best of Lawrence competition are eligible to participate in the Best of Lawrence Spotlight Series program, which includes a question-and-answer profile. Look for future profiles in the print and online editions of the Journal-World.

What do you believe sets your business apart?

Our unique industrial atmosphere, expansive outdoor area, and unwavering commitment to exceptional customer service at every event.

How has your business evolved or grown since you first started? What key milestones have you achieved along the way?

Our first event at Venue 1235 was the wedding reception for my wife and me. Since then, we have introduced innovations and enhancements to both the exterior and interior, prioritizing consumer needs. Any surplus funds are dedicated to ongoing improvements, reflecting our commitment to continually elevate the space. Our outdoor space now has an outdoor bar, seating and lights.

Venue 1235 hosts private and public events including weddings, live music, movie showings, vendor and networking events and much more.

Community support is crucial. How do you engage with the local community, and how has this engagement impacted your success?

We love partnering with community non-profit organizations to host events. We also try to host a handful of public events throughout the year such as live music, comedy acts and movie showings.

Businesses face challenges as well. Can you discuss a significant hurdle your business has overcome and the lessons learned from it?

The Covid epidemic was a hurdle for a large event space. We established rigid cleaning protocols and provided ample outdoor space to provide everyone a safe place to enjoy events. We’ve also learned that the most impactful marketing comes from referrals by friends and family, as it involves a level of trust beyond conventional advertising. This approach proves particularly influential in small businesses and communities. Nonetheless, we are consistently striving to expand into new markets by utilizing diverse marketing channels.

Are there any upcoming projects, events, or initiatives that you’re excited about and would like the community to know?

We have two exciting public events to announce in January. First up is the Lawrence Wedding Collective Open House on January 21st, running from 11 am to 4 pm. This event is a wedding open house featuring numerous vendors to help you plan your special day. It is hosted by four of the primary venues in town.

Venue 1235 can accommodate 850 for standing room only or 300 for a seated dinner. The outside space has covered patio areas and a private fenced-in backyard.

The second noteworthy event is Queer Prom, organized by Lawrence Pride, taking place on Saturday, January 27th. Save the date for a vibrant and inclusive celebration.

The “Best of Lawrence” title often indicates a commitment to excellence in customer service. How do you ensure that every customer has a positive experience with your business?

We have a hands-on approach to every event and make sure to keep constant communication with the host of the events. We want to ensure that all questions are answered and the event goes as planned. We try to go above and beyond anywhere possible to make the event a memorable experience. We follow-up with clients for feedback to help improve future experiences.

What role does employee training and development play in maintaining the level of excellence your business is known for?

This is a huge part of our business. We strive to make every event have the same high level of customer service. We work hard to ensure all staff members know the level of care and attention every event deserves.

Could you share a memorable customer success story that exemplifies the impact your business has on the community?

We had a wedding this past fall that posted some amazing feedback for us. Receiving feedback about how we contributed to making their day perfect is incredibly meaningful. It reinforces our sense of fulfillment, knowing that we play a role in enhancing a couple’s significant event. Our commitment is to offer a venue that transforms events into lasting memories for a lifetime.

What do you believe has been the biggest contributor to your business’s growth and reputation in the Lawrence area?

Our best marketing tool remains word of mouth, with numerous new clients referred by those who have either hosted or attended events here. The friendly faces and dependable service contribute to building a strong sense of trust within our community. Additionally, we are committed to ongoing enhancements of the venue and the addition of more amenities, ensuring a positive and memorable experience for all.

What long-term goals do you have for your business, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Our objectives include fostering repeat business and maintaining a consistently booked calendar. We are dedicated to upholding top-tier customer service and enhancing our space continually. Additionally, we aim to attract more business meetings and corporate parties, creating opportunities to network and engage with the Lawrence community.

How do you ensure that your business remains an inclusive and welcoming place for customers of all backgrounds?

We are constantly working with non-profits and people with a tight budget to make our event space attainable. We can understand especially in today’s world that budgets are tight but we still would like to be a space where people can host an event without breaking the bank.

Reflecting on your experiences, what leadership lessons have you learned that you believe have been instrumental in your business’s success?

Reflecting on our journey, essential leadership lessons in our event venue’s success encompass a customer-centric approach, adaptability, effective communication, commitment to continuous improvement, community engagement, and a dedication to listening to everyone’s voices and ideas. By fostering an inclusive environment for brainstorming, we’ve generated exciting and innovative concepts that have contributed to our ongoing growth and success.