A rejuvenated Moose looks beyond Bingo

Posted on July 12, 2012 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Lodge Administrator Bill Bragg, lounging in the club’s new bar area, has the Moose moving in a new direction.

The Moose is on the move. It’s a social club that’s rebuilding its Broadway facility while building awareness to attract new, younger members. It respects tradition, but needs to shake things up a bit, including long-held stereotypes.

It’s a Moose that still likes a good Bingo game, but loves to rock and roll.

“We’re serving the community and having a good time doing it,” said Bill Bragg, administrator of, formally, Sonoma Valley Moose Lodge Post #2408.

A film and television producer, Bragg was offered the post late last year. He accepted, with a goal of rejuvenating an organization that had almost lost its charter. A new board of directors was elected to back him up, “to run it like business.”

In its latest entrepreneurial venture, the Lodge kicks off a Friday music series on July 13 with The Hardly Strictly Mash-up Boys. (See page 23 for details). The building at 20580 Broadway has a permit for loud, late music, a coveted asset that makes it one of the prime rental halls for weddings, reunions, fundraisers and other events. An industrial kitchen and two large seating areas add value as well.

Even granting its funky, Bingo-hall charm, Bragg knew the facility needed an upgrade. Repairs were made, and some painting done. Members chipped in, with donations and labor, to build a wall enclosing the bar area. Now members can patronize the venerable watering hole – this is, after all, a social club – while events happen elsewhere in the facility.

“It gives up the flexibility to do more,” Bragg said. “We can run simultaneous events.”

The revenue streams are important. A non-profit, the Lodge sustains itself through proceeds from its events, rentals and memberships. Locally, the group has donated money to help Austin Ridge and Cody Cordellos, among other causes. It is also part of the international Moose Lodge organization that provides for orphans worldwide.

Getting people into the Lodge also helps sell the idea of memberships. And what do you get for your $60 (male) or $30 (female) a year?

“It’s its own community,” Bragg said. “There’s a real camaraderie here.”

There are gatherings, big and small, throughout the week, including Monday and Friday dinners, a midweek tailgate potluck and Sunday breakfast. The members-only bar opens at 3 p.m.

“Sometimes it’s a watering hole, sometimes it’s a restaurant,” Bragg explained. And it’s family friendly. There’s a playground outside, and the older kids get involved, too, such as Bragg’s 14-year-old son waiting tables.

Bragg said the club creates a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. “Come as a guest and find out what it’s all about,” he said. “See if you like the vibe.”

The push for more music and younger members won’t be at the expense of the more mature Moose. “They built this place, literally,” Bragg said, “We’re not looking to replace them or trample on any traditions.”

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