20Q: Catching up with 'The Venue' boss Britten Langfoss


Anthony Wahl

Britten Langfoss

Langfoss was born and raised right here in Janesville. A graduate of Janesville Parker High School, she also holds a degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.

Langfoss, her husband, Joel, and their dog, Dexter, reside in a historic home in the city's Courthouse Hill Historic District. She devotes many hours to downtown development as the chair of the Downtown Development Alliance, has sat on a variety of committees that relate to the ARISE Implementation Strategy and just finished serving her second term on the city's historic commission.

Langfoss also serves as vice president of business development for Grafft Investments, whose business portfolio in Janesville includes The Venue, a downtown event and banquet center, and the Wisconsin Wagon Co.

Langfoss is the daughter of Jim and Heidi Grafft, and she has three brothers: Jay, Riley and Charlie. In her spare time, she enjoys playing volleyball and golfing with family and friends.

1. Why call your new place “The Venue?” We were trying to come up with a unique name, but were trying to not make it sound churchy since it was a former church. My father came up with the name “The Venue,” and it stuck.

2. What did you see the first time you entered the facility that convinced you it had potential? The amazing architecture could definitely be seen via a beam of a flashlight. We took one pass through, and everyone in the family knew that it could be something wonderful—not only for the building, but also downtown Janesville.

3. Was there ever a time in the renovation project you felt you might have bitten off more than you could chew? Every day. It was an extremely aggressive timeline, but we had an amazing team in place, which gave me the confidence to know we could make the goal date, which just happened to be my wedding date.

4. What historic attributes of the building did you go to the greatest lengths to maintain? The amazing ceiling, archways and woodwork in the Bower City Ballroom is by far the most amazing part of the building. It was all in really good shape, so it wasn't the most difficult part to maintain—but the most important. The most work went into the tin ceilings and the wood floors, which we restored.

5. Favorite ice cream flavor? Hands down Mint Chocolate Chip.

6. Since opening, The Venue has hosted its share of wedding receptions. What wedding day tradition do you hope never goes away, and which one would you be fine with seeing disappear? I hope the tradition of the bride's father walking her down the aisle is something that doesn't go away. My father and I are extremely close, so it was very emotional, but a very special moment. I like seeing new ideas for the unity part of the ceremony. I have seen so many couples do the candle and the sand, so we chose to pot a plant with soil from both our childhood homes that both our parents still reside at in our hometowns.

7. Do you think spatially or analytically? Strangely both. I blame my schooling in both architecture and business, which gave me an interesting perspective. If I had to choose one, I would say spatially.

8. You're very involved in the community. Explain why it's important to you? I plan to be here in Janesville for a very long time and want to make Janesville the best it can be. My husband and I would like to start a family and intend to raise our family here in Janesville. I believe I am investing in Janesville's future, downtown's future, my future and my family's future.

9. Are you a Facebook/Twitter/Instragram person, or do you avoid social media altogether? I am on Facebook, not only as myself but I am an administrator for six other groups/businesses. I have not gotten into Twitter and Instagram. I do it personally as well as for The Venue and Downtown Janesville. Sometimes I wish I could unplug, but I feel it's important to keep in touch—especially for the businesses and groups that I am involved with here in Janesville.

10. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you: I have my motorcycle license.

11. What is your most prized possession? The ring my husband gave to me when he proposed, as it was his grandmother's ring. Family is very important to me, and most possessions can always be replaced.

12. You studied architecture in college. How did that benefit you during the renovation of The Venue? It helped me with most every aspect of that project, but it was especially helpful when reading blueprints and understanding what I needed to convey to the work team each day. I have always had a passion for historic architecture, but my schooling just solidified that was what I wanted to do.

13. You've taken part in triathlons in the past. Do you still compete in these? No, time management is an area I need to improve upon. I have gotten so involved with other things and purchased a home that I don't have adequate time to train, but I do still play volleyball year-round and hope to get back into triathlons in the future.

14. Name a skill you wish you had. Plastering—it is an art. Luckily we have capable craftsmen in Janesville such as Lloyd's Plastering. We had so much plastering work that needed to be done at The Venue, and now my husband and I have a few projects that need to get done at home as well.

15. Are you left-handed or right-handed? Do you believe it means anything? Right-handed, but I used to joke that I am an ambidextrous volleyball hitter. I don't think it means anything.

16. At the grocery store, what item always goes in your cart whether you need it or not? Eggs. My husband also knows to put them in his cart when he goes grocery shopping as well. I can never have enough eggs. I eat them almost every morning, and I love making hard-boiled eggs.

17. Do you collect anything? For a while it was race medals, as I ran a race every month for 18 straight months—even through the winter. Some might claim I collect shoes, but that is a worn collection and not just for display.

18. Aside from weddings, reunions and business events, what other types of events do you see The Venue hosting in the future? Eventually, we would like to get mid-level musical acts as the acoustics are great, and we have a liquor license to appeal to the over-21 crowd.

19. You have two hours of free time. What do you do? Go golfing. The past few months, my husband and I have been spending much of our free time doing work on our home because it was just on the historic house tour for the Rock County Historical Society, so hopefully the work on our 100-year-old home will slow down now.

20. What does downtown Janesville need more than anything to thrive? People. Not only people who want to live, work and play in the downtown, but also people who care and who want to make an impact.

Know someone involved in the local arts/entertainment community you think would be a great subject for 20Q? Email kicks Editor Greg Little at glittle@gazettextra.com.

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