LAKE WALES – After around six months of trying to find a new home, officers with Lake Wales American Legion Memorial Post 71 and All Veterans Center are hoping to re-open by Nov. 1 in the old Brock’s / Garfield’s Restaurant in the food court at Eagle Ridge Mall.
The veteran’s post was formerly located in a large warehouse on Scenic Highway in Lake Wales. High rent costs forced the veterans and their supporters to move out in early April.
Lake Wales All Veterans Center President Andy Anderson said that the new owner of Eagle Ridge Mall, who for the moment is requesting to have his name left out of newspapers, has been affiliated with the Veteran’s Administration and kindly worked out a good rent deal for the veterans, Anderson said.
This will be the third location for the post, having outgrown their first location and the second being a bit too expensive. This third location will primarily be a restaurant and bar called Area 71. Anderson said American Legion officers are still trying to lock down a location to build a hall that would be open space to be used to store items to be donated to veterans in need.
Area 71 will open at 10 a.m. and close at around 10 p.m. to match the mall hours. Anderson said a side door will be used for the bar from 10 p.m. until close.
Food served will be fairly simple. Initially, the veterans and staff will be serving things like half-pound hamburgers, spaghetti, pulled pork sandwiches, and fish sandwiches. On Friday nights there will still be a fish fry and a band that will play on the grandstand in the mall food court. Sundays at 1 p.m. will be bingo in the food court.
Anderson said profits from Area 71 will go toward building a simple hall in the coming months and serving veterans.
Before they can open, the Health Department and the City of Lake Wales must approve required permits. Anderson said their liquor license must be transferred to the new address before the bar can open but he is hoping that will all be in place by Nov. 1.
There will also be a golf fundraiser Oct. 27.
“I am proud of the post, I really am,” Anderson said.