Editor’s note: The following is part of a three-part series spotlighting U.S. military veterans who also are Kansas City entrepreneurs. This report features Luke Wade, a member of the Army National Guard who previously was deployed to Iraq.
Luke Wade spent the past nine years connecting 70,000 Kansas Citians through KC Crew — a downtown-area sports operation for adult leagues of softball, kickball, cornhole and other activities.
Now the athletic entrepreneur is shifting his focus to Rec Hall STL — a game-themed bar and restaurant venture anticipated to open this December in St. Charles, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
“I truly believe in the power of connecting people, especially through activity and sports,” Wade said. “It’s really neat to be able to bring something I started in Kansas City to St. Louis where a lot of my friends and family are.”
Click here to read how KC Crew shifted to virtual entertainment over the spring and summer months.
The game-centered bar concept has been on Wade’s mind for a few years, he said. In February, Wade met fellow entrepreneur Chris Honstain, who helped the idea materialize.
“October , Chris opened a Recess STL, which was this giant warehouse of ping pong, bocce, giant Jenga, airbowling — all these fun games that locals wanted to play,” Wade explained. “… I was amazed that he was able to capture what I was doing with KC Crew and put it into one spot for locals that included that food and beverage scene.”
Upon learning that Honstain was not doing any marketing, events or leagues, Wade said he realized that the two of them could use their complementary strengths as business partners.
Unable to trademark Recess, the duo rebranded the venture as Rec Hall.
“We’re using my media agency and software to run the facilities,” Wade said referring to his software company League Ally. “So [Rec Hall STL] really brings together everything I’ve been working on.”
Click here to sign up for updates on Rec Hall STL’s grand opening.
With confidence that Rec Hall STL will be able to open safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wade said he believes social activities are important for people’s mental and physical health.
Rec Hall’s location in St. Charles is the first-of-many, Wade said. He sees future locations in St. Louis, Kansas City and across the Midwest.
“Rec Hall entities are planning to expand throughout the Midwest very quickly,” Wade noted. “Once we get them open, the goal is to hire and train local staff that can do what I do, and then they can run with it.”
Rec Hall STL expects to hire 30 to 40 employees as bartenders, servers and barbacks. Hiring for management positions is set to begin in December, Wade said.
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Come by one last time tomorrow from 6-12 for some drinks & recreation on the last Saturday at our first location (4500 Swan Ave). While we knew our first location was temporary – we still can’t believe it’s coming to an end. (We will be announcing our new locations soon!) We made some great memories here and had such fun seeing you all having good times 😄 so many holiday parties, dates, family reunions, birthdays, group nights out, the Jameson Ball, NYE and so much more. It was a blast 🙂 It’s not goodbye forever though – we have two new locations in the works. We will be announcing soon! We can’t wait to share 😉 thank you to everyone who made this first “home” so special! #saturdayeveryday #recessstl #goodbyefornow #thegrovestl #stlouis #stlgram #stl #stlbars #314together #thenewnormalstl #stlhappyhour #stlweekend #stlmo #stlsports #cardinals #stlblues
Customers at the grand opening of Rec Hall STL can expect to see ping pong, bocce and cornhole.
“But the cool thing about our space is that it’s very flexible; we can put in new games, try new concepts,” Wade added.
Although Wade plans to split his time between Kansas City and St. Louis during the coming months, he does not see KC Crew slowing down.
“My wife, Katy, is my partner in KC Crew, and she’s taken over a lot within the company,” Wade said. “The virtual events have been her … We’ve also got a great team over there, so KC Crew is in good hands.”
KC Crew, with the partnership of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, resumed in-person sports leagues at the end of June.
Click here for information on KC Crew’s social distancing plan and registration for winter leagues.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.