Oak Creek VFW closes its doors
Loss of business contributes to downfall
Oak Creek — Locally known as “The V,” the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Post 3311 in Oak Creek has finally shut its doors after a downward spiral of lost business in previous years, owner Cynthia Hatlee said.
“There are plenty of places to eat and drink in Oak Creek –maybe too many for a town of 800,” Hatlee said.
Hatlee leased the building from the National Headquarters of the VFW, which is in the process of selling the building, State Quartermaster John Santana said.
The original Oak Creek VFW, which is now home to Spiro’s Tradin’ Post, was built just after World War II, said Mike Yurich, a part-time local historian.
The VFW then moved to another building before coming to its current location on the corner of Main Street and Sharp Avenue.
In its present home, the VFW served Oak Creek and other communities for many years. On holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and, of course, Veterans Day, it would serve free meals to anyone who came in.
“It was a real community gathering place,” said Mayor Cargo Rodeman, a former chaplain of the Ladies Auxiliary and district president of the VFW.
In 1995, the Oak Creek VFW contributed $5,000 to the families of those lost or injured in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
In recent years, the VFW was mostly just a hangout, a bar for anyone who wanted to wet his or her whistle. Hatlee worked as a bartender for two years before becoming manager for another two years. Two years ago, she bought the bar.
“Most of the town’s business has been down after a bad summer with a loss of outside business,” she said. “I guess the one with the least money is the first one to go down.”
Business was slow for a while at the VFW, and Hatlee resorted to heating the place with a space heater to save money. When someone broke into the bar on Jan. 18 and stole more than $800 in cash and $500 in liquor, it was a final blow.
Hatlee said that was the point that drove her to close the bar.
“We tried our best, but eventually you have to close the doors,” she said.
Hatlee wanted to thank all the members, patrons and guests who have visited the VFW over the years.
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