A view of the first tee of the Wedgewood Cove course from the entrance to the snack bar. The first nine holes will open in mid to late June.
Construction crews are still working inside and outside to finish Wedgewood Cove Golf Course, but the restaurants and banquet ballroom of Wedgewood Cove are open for business, and the golf course isn’t far behind.
“You know when you do something like this, it’s kind of like you build it — build with sticks and stones and all of a sudden you have to breathe the life into it and now that’s happening,” said Paul Field. Field, his wife Dorothy, and Jerry and Gerry Vogt are co-owners of the golf course.
Wedgewood Cove is not a country club, even though it may look like one, Jerry Vogt said. Memberships are not required, and he said everybody is welcome at Wedgewood.
“I would tell them not to be intimidated by how the building looks. … Always remember that it is a public facility. You do not have to be a member,” said General Manager Holly Diepenbrock.
Wedgewood houses two restaurants: Wedgewood Restaurant and The Cove Bar and Grill. The same menu is used in both. The Cove has all high top tables and bar seating, and it overlooks the golf course. Flat screen televisions hang on the walls, and upbeat music usually plays, Diepenbrock said.
In Wedgewood Restaurant, silverware and napkins are neatly organized on the table, and dinner music is played and there is dimming light, and the windows overlook Pickerel Lake.
“You can wear denim, a pair of jeans in here with a T-shirt and eat in either one,” Diepenbrock said. “Or you can wear a suit coat and tie, but the whole point is what we strive to do is make them feel comfortable, regardless of their attire, to sit in any place and eat.”
Diepenbrock described the decoration inside as “modern elegance,” and she said they want it to be classy, but not intimidating to the public.
Diepenbrock said customers can wear whatever they want in either restaurant.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner hours are extended until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The bar is open until 1 a.m. every day. Wedgewood Restaurant seats 102, and The Cove seats 75.
The Vineyard banquet ballroom seats 480, but it can also be split into three separate rooms called St. Croix, Walnut Crest and Stone Ridge. Each is named after a winery, and this was done to honor owners, because Diepenbrock said they are wine lovers.
The first event was held in the Vineyard banquet ballroom last week, and there are 15 weddings booked or this year, 10 holiday parties and another 10 other events like meetings and reunions.
Diepenbrock said there have only been two advertisements for the business, so she said the number of bookings shows that people in Albert Lea really wanted or needed a banquet facility like this. And she said the 480- seat ballroom is larger than most in town.
Jim Hoium, food and beverage director, said décor inside and outside of the building are both very impressive, and he said it’s at a level not seen before in Albert Lea.
“Talking to people, there seemed to be some functions that were moving to Owatonna and Austin. Local functions were looking for something more to make their function or event a little more special. ... It will keep a lot more action local.”
“It’s just been wowing people. They say, ‘Are we in Albert Lea?’” Hoium said.
The first nine holes will open between June 15 and 30. The back nine will open sometime later in the summer.
Jerry Vogt said he played golf on the course on Thursday and he said the course was very fun, but it wasn’t quite finished.
“It’s a fun course. I think people will enjoy it. It’s got nice, soft rolling hills. You can’t see the people in the other fairways because the way the hills are set up. It’s a very nice layout,” Jerry Vogt said. He also said the front nine and back nine will be distinctly different.
The ninth tee leads golfers back to the clubhouse, and a snack bar overlooks the course. Golfers can order food electronically through a GPS system in the golf carts. So a golfer can order at hole eight or nine, and their order will be ready by the time the course leads them to the clubhouse.
Two additional large banquet rooms are planned for the basement of the clubhouse as phase two of construction. Diepenbrock said the piping, plumbing and air conditioning is already set in place, but completion is a few years away. Each ballroom will seat 100, or they can be split into four smaller rooms.
Men’s and women’s restrooms and showers are also planned for the basement, and there’s more space available down there for a bar.
Even though Wedgewood Cove is not complete, employees say it’s unlike any other facility in the city.
“There’s nothing like this in Albert Lea. It brings just a different venue for people to experience. … We’re just trying to give them something else that they can experience in Albert Lea,” Diepenbrock said.