Verona Moose Thrives in New Location One Year After Fire
Members recall the "devastating" fire that destroyed their old club a year ago, and talk about its new location.
Rich Noel remembers how he felt when the Verona Moose Lodge went up in flames last October.
"I just wanted to cry," said Noel, governor of the Moose. "That was our lodge. It made me sick to see that."
The Oct. 12, 2011, fire destroyed the entire building and adjacent apartment buildings. Shortly after the fire, the Moose and one of the next door apartments were demolished, leaving an empty space where the old community staple stood on East Railroad Avenue.
Fast forward one year—Noel and the other Moose members are enjoying their new riverfront location along Arch Street. Last November, the Moose began leasing the property of the old Nardoni Dom Club.
"We got lucky that this place was empty," Noel said. "It's a Godsend. Believe me."
The Loyal Order of Moose is a fraternal and service organization founded in 1888, with nearly 1,800 Lodges, according to the Moose International website. The Verona chapter is the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 250.
Shortly after the fire, Noel said that many local organizations, such as the American Legion and the Verona Eagles held fundraisers to help the Moose begin operations again.
"The community really helped us," he said. "I'm very proud of this place."
Now, members are enjoying everything they did at the old lodge—and more.
Sisters Caitlyn Conte and Lyndsey Massaro—both Riverview High School graduates—have been cooking for the members of the club for the last four months. The duo is on hand every day (except Mondays and Wednesdays), offering menu staples and daily specials to please everyone's palates. On Sunday mornings, they serve breakfast.
"Our set menu has typical bar food, but people are coming here every day to eat so we try to have something different for them," Conte said. "The specials are all our mom's homemade recipes. It feels so homey here. It's like you're at home and you're having a bunch of people coming over to eat."
Massaro said the Moose is trying to appeal to younger members by hiring DJs and bands to play music. The new location also offers a riverfront deck with seating and a firepit.
The sisters, who are in their 20s, said more people their age are starting to take notice of the club.
"It's nice down here, and people are starting to bring their kids for dinner," she said. "We want people to bring their families. We've gotten so many new memberships, but it still surprises me that there are so many people who don't even know the Moose is here."
Noel said the new location has really sparked the interest of the community. The lodge already has met its new-member quota for the year, which helps the club raise more money for Moose charities and local organizations—such as Mooseheart, Moosehaven, food banks, drug awareness for teens, and more.
"It broke my heart when the other place burned down, but we weren't doing as well over there," he said. "This is the best organization. I've been with them for 30 years. I believe in the Moose and what we do."
For more information, call 412-828-3119.