Eagles Club soaring after changes

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Shelly LeTendre has been hired by the Eagles Club as its bar manager, one of many changes the Eagles Club is making to become more successful and offer more. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Eagles Club in Austin isn’t the same old nest it used to be.

New management, events, games, offerings and food all have added to the club’s atmosphere in the past year. But something else has the club soaring higher in recent months: people.

“In the last two months, membership has really skyrocketed,” said Shelley LeTendre, the new bar manager. “We are doing so much more to bring people in here.”

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Now the club is roughly 850 members strong. But LeTendre, like much of the new clientele, was unaware what the Eagles Club had to offer.

“I never even thought of the Eagles as a place to go,” LeTendre said, who was a 16-year employee of Torge’s in Austin.

While many members and patrons are middle-age adults, younger members are joining. That’s exactly what the club is looking for.

Employees and patrons have watched members leave, watched some not pay their dues and watched the bar become empty over the years. But they say that has clearly changed in the last year. Spreading word about new events and new people has fueled part of that change.

Now as an employee and member of the Eagles Club, LeTendre is enjoying the benefits that come with it, such as free food, free drinks, discounts on renting event space and more. Through the end of January, memberships are $35, which is $10 off, LeTendre said. Among pool and dart tournaments, the club recently started poker tournaments and will soon have bean bag tournaments. With different generations joining the club, LeTendre hopes to update the music, as well.

Perhaps the most fun people are experiencing is a new horse racing game where players purchase pull tabs for chances to advance their horse down the track for more prizes, “which is so much fun,” LeTendre said.

“You get to be a member of a club,” LeTendre said. “And I think it’s great.”

Though being a member at the Eagles isn’t required, many say that is one of the top perks.

Debbie Retterath, Eagles Club secretary, enjoys the fraternal aspect of the club.

“You are actually a member of a family when you are there,” she said.

LeTendre notices the atmosphere in the Eagles Club is different than other places. While it’s not a rowdy club, it’s also not bland. LeTendre said the patrons are very welcoming and willing to help. They make the club an easy place to be.

“I have really enjoyed the people here,” LeTendre said, “I actually look forward to going to work.”

But the Eagles staff isn’t resting on its recent success. As always, proceeds from its memberships will go toward the cancer telethon, along with some upcoming events.

A casino dart tournament and chili cookoff will both be held Saturday, Jan. 7. The dart tournament is $15 per person, and $5 will go toward the telethon. A cancer breakfast will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday, too.

New members, events and a new-found excitement have fostered a new motto at the Eagles Club for the new year: “soaring high in 2012.”

LeTendre, Retterath and others hope that motto only furthers the club’s longstanding, real motto: “people helping people.”