A formal flag ceremony marked the opening comments for the JH Sweis Catering grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony by the New Lenox Chamber of Commerce at the American Legion Post #1977.
Jan and Hayle Sweis are the new in-house catering service for both the American Legion Canteen Restaurant as well as for the banquet facility. Before serving hors doeuvres and pulled pork sandwiches, the Past Commander Craig Phillips of New Lenox praised the couple's commitment to helping the American Legion complete its dream to become a viable spot for social gatherings and casual conversations over a meal.
Since 2009, the American Legion has been working on plans to update and revamp the building, he said. A $2 million investment brought the facility up-to-date, but the caterers put it on the map as a fresh combination restaurant and pub, he said.
"We have been so chomping at the bit" to have this combination work, said Phillips. Since November, when the Sweis' took over the kitchen, there's been a renewed interest in the American Legion. "We've had probably the biggest Bears Season ever," he said. While the big screen TVs were featuring the action on the field, the Sweis' provided a menu packed with a variety of sandwiches, soup and appetizers to feed a hungry crowd.
In years past, the staff at the Legion had only an oven to heat up frozen pizzas, he said. Since the arrival of JH Sweis, "I don't think we've ordered anymore frozen pizzas."
Beyond the customer-building aspects of the Legion-caterer combination, Phillips is particularly fond of the appetizers the catering staff distributes. "We've been the…taste testers." They try out new recipes to see if it's something the clientele would appreciate, he said. It's a good way to determine if it's something they want to add to the menu.
In the nutshell, he said, the addition of "(JH Sweis) has just really given us the opportunity to go out into the community." The Legion can accommodate with flair the community's plans for Sunday Brunch, spaghetti dinners and more.
Jan Sweis told the crowd that she was pleased to be at the Legion. It's a good marriage for the two interests.
After a warm welcome from Annette Bowden, village trustee, the Sweis' welcomed everyone present to partake in spread of hor doeuvres and sandwiches.
The banquet facility is available for parties and the Canteen is opened from noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
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