Linda Krause met and fell in love with her husband at Schroeder Hall long before she won an eBay bid making the hall her own in 2017.
“They would go dancing there and she took my husband when he was young to run around outside,” said Christine Krause, Linda Krause’s daughter-in-law.
The hall has been closed since March 20 because of COVID-19. Following the recent directive of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Krauses plan to reopen June 13 with No Chance Band. Before that, they will hold “Prom 2020 Dancing Under the Stars” for high school seniors June 4, 5 and 6.
“Cautiously optimistic is how we are proceeding,” Christine Krause said.
Since owning the hall, Linda Krause has not been active in its management because of health issues. However, around the time the pandemic struck, she asked her son and daughter-in-law, Aric and Christine Krause, to step in and help. They now have part ownership in the hall and take an active role in its management.
“Obviously this (coronavirus) has hurt our business. We had to be closed, and multiple shows were canceled and rescheduled,” Christine Krause said. “While we are not operating, we’re not bringing in any money at all, and we continue to pay our employees.”
The Krauses have used the downtime to make significant changes.
They have hired two auditors and an accountant to scour the books and the operation. They plan to put an operating manual in place to help the hall move forward.
Their plans include obtaining a liquor license, hiring more bartenders and upgrading kitchen equipment for a more efficient operation, among other initiatives.
“We made some choices to be able to move forward and be profitable and continue to be in the community – to be the second-oldest dance hall in Texas and to be the place everybody loves,” Christine Krause said.
The Krauses are looking at the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance recommendations made to Abbott for guidance as they reopen. The alliance recommended a soft opening at 50% capacity by May 18 and full opening by June 2, Krause said. The reopening of bars announced by Abbott on Monday is 25% capacity beginning May 22.
They are considering providing masks at the door. Hand sanitizer stations, tables set 6 feet apart and a maximum of six chairs per table also are among the safety precautions. The hall recently underwent deep cleaning from the rafters to the floor. Dusty streamers that had been strewn across the rafters for about 30 years were removed.
“Schroeder Hall has a long history,” Krause said. “(Patrons) have always enjoyed bringing their families. It’s part of a healthy community, having a place where families can go and enjoy music and time together. We hope to be able to provide that again very soon. Stress levels in the community are so high, so getting back to some kind of normal, bringing laughter and light-hearted moments, is important at this time.”
The hall has scheduled five performances and many more have not yet been announced as they work through finalizing contracts.
Another area dance hall has had experiences similar to Schroeder Hall.
DaCosta Hall had its last performance on March 14 because of coronavirus. Andrea Stehle assumed the role of hall manager in January with the intention of increasing events and boosting business before the pandemic hit.
Historically, the hall has served as a venue where Sons of Hermann members hold functions and wedding, graduation and other party rentals help cover the expenses. The DaCosta Hall Raisers, a country-Western dance group, also holds dances there regularly.
After Gov. Abbott’s announcement about reopening bars, Stehle is planning Thursday happy hours to start June 4 from 4 to 9 p.m. She also is starting Friday Family Fun Nights on June 5 at 6 p.m. with DJ Clos taking the stage from 8 p.m. to midnight. Both events are intended to run weekly throughout the summer.
“We hope to keep that schedule because we’re not sure how much longer we can take this,” Stehle said. “Our tagline is bringing community and families back together, and that’s what we’re all about.”
The hall had to take a loan from the Sons of Hermann lodge to stay open, she said.
“We are on a tight, tight budget. We need to open,” she said. “But basically, we are the most affordable place for a reception around.”
Technically, as an event venue that holds up to 650 people, Stehle is able to book and hold wedding receptions with the restrictions imposed by the state. However, she does not consider social distancing possible. Only six people from the same household are to be at each table spaced 6 feet away from the others, she said.
“Who is going to police that? People do not do it themselves,” she said. “And face masks make for great pictures. All of our people just rescheduled.”
Stehle also said plans are in the works for a fundraiser for hall renovations. They would like to update the wood paneling and other aesthetics but have no intention of touching the “perfect” dance floor. The hall has not been updated since opening in 1977.
“The dance floor is perfect,” she said. “That’s what people come for.”