For years the Northwest Energy office at 515 W. Third St. offered the rental of a small and affordable community reception hall known as the Blue Flame.
Recently, Northwest Energy moved its offices out of Railside to 612 S. Webb Road. When its former office came up for sale, it was purchased by Grand Island real estate agent and insurance businessman Dick Baasch. After remodeling the newly acquired space, Baasch, his wife, Arlene, and daughter, Karen Riley, decided to return part of the property back to a reception hall, where the Blue Flame was located, and rebrand it as 2 Celebrate.
Baasch, a Grand Island native, has been in the real estate and insurance business for 30 years. Before that, he operated a welding business.
A life-long entrepreneur, he started his business career at age 11 as a shoeshine boy at the old Koehler Hotel in Grand Island.
“I think it is nice for downtown,” Baasch said about having a new reception hall. “It is not a huge one, and it won’t cost a lot of money.”
2 Celebrate will have a total capacity of 65 people. There is a small kitchen, and people who rent the facility can either bring their own food or have it catered.
Baasch said he envisions 2 Celebrate as a multi-purpose reception hall that will host business meetings, birthday parties, baby showers, anniversary parties, retirement parties, bridal showers, graduation parties, family Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties or dinners, funeral dinners, educational meetings and much more. They are also planning to add a large television so people could rent the space for a Husker watch party.
“I’m not ready to retire yet,” Baasch said. “I’m 73 years old, and I have to have something for me to be doing.”
The building where 2 Celebrate is located has had many guises over the years, including an auto dealership. Baasch said he believes the former Blue Flame reception hall was started back in the 1960s.
“About 10 years ago, they (Northwest Energy) stopped renting it out,” Baasch said.
Karen Riley said there was a need to have a smaller, affordable reception hall in the Railside District to accommodate a small family or group gatherings, such as graduation parties.
“It can be so expensive, especially places that cater their food,” she said. “A lot of people want to have a party where they can bring their own stuff. It is hard to find a place like that in Grand Island, especially around graduation or holidays.”
There is also a nostalgic aspect of opening a reception hall where the Blue Flame once was.
“I remember the place fondly,” Baasch said. “I must have been here at least a dozen times or more for small events.”
He remembers when square dances were held at the location.
“I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this,” Baasch said about his acquisition. “We are close (his real estate and insurance business are right around the corner), and I’ll probably use it a few times myself with my family.”
Riley said 2 Celebrate is an affordable option.
“You can make it cost whatever you want,” she said. “You can have a fancy dinner or chips and salsa.”
Baasch said he is excited to bring another new business to Railside.
“Downtown Grand Island is growing,” he said. “There has been a lot of improvements in the last three years.”
Baasch said a lot of the work went into redesigning the building to make it back into a reception hall.
“My dad did a lot of work in this building,” Riley said. “It did not look like this when we got it. Everything is new.”
For more information about 2 Celebrate, call (308) 383-4359 or (308) 383-6786, or check it out on Facebook