Calls are growing louder for Katie Belle’s to be restored as an amenity for Villagers.
An official in The Villages raised the idea of the Amenity Authority Committee taking over the former dance hall at Spanish Springs Town Square. His proposal gained enormous support after a mob of Villagers attended a Lady Lake Commission meeting on Monday night and forced a 3-2 vote against the Developer’s plan for age-restricted apartments at the former home of Katie Belle’s in the Van Patten House.
“We agree 100 percent with District 2 Supervisor Jim Cipollone’s recommendation to restore Katie Belle’s. My wife and I moved to The Villages in 2001 and loved Katie Belle’s. It was unique, fun, and had a decent restaurant upstairs (The Cattle Baron’s Club.) Whenever friends and family used to visit us, showing them Katie Belle’s was always at the top of our list,” said Villagers Bill and Ellen Thuemmel.
They added that The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center is “a nice facility for passive entertainment,” but that it is “quite pricey.” On the other hand, Katie Belle’s offered more down-home fun. They described it as the magnet which drew them to The Villages.
Susan Prince moved to The Villages in 2004 and remembers when Tony D was her favorite DJ at Katie Belle’s.
“The food was good and the dancing was great in the afternoon and evenings,” she said.
She believes Katie Belle’s was not profitable due to faulty management. Like many others, she believes building in a cover charge could be the key to success at a revived Katie Belle’s.
When Margaret and Tom Tatasure decided to purchase their home in Village of Winifred, their final decision was driven in part by Katie Belle’s and the Church on the Square, which was later converted to The Sharon.
“We have been here 17 years and saw many changes, some good, some not so good. We miss Katie Belle’s and the Church on the Square. Spanish Springs is now disappointing to us and our past visitors,” Margaret Tatasure said.
Shelley Pfaff of the Village of Sabal Chase shared a similar experience.
“Having an amenity just for Villagers was a big attraction to us. Whenever we had out-of-town company, that was the first place we took them to visit. We loved it. And we loved that it was a saloon. The remodeled version of it was terrible! We want it back the way it was before,” Pfaff said.
Penny and Joe Stinton of the Village of Rio Grande said they support the AAC bringing back Katie Belle’s for the residents.
“Please consider reviving this wonderful place! I’m sure if Mr. Schwartz was alive he would be saddened that this memorial to his mother was taken away from us,” Penny Stinton said.
Dick Ivinjack of the Village of Piedmont urged the AAC to get the ball rolling.
“I think the AAC taking over Katie Belle’s is a great idea. Let’s get it done very soon,” he said.
The AAC will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Savannah Center.