Rachel Long’s passion may be The Martin’s long-awaited spark.

Built as a church on land donated by Edward Martin himself in 1890, transformed into restaurants decades later, then a community theater, and finally an event space, the enduring building on the northwest corner of 135th & Holmes is an indelible piece of Martin City’s long history. Now, in the hands of new owner Rachel Long, The Martin Event Space is showing more potential than it has in years.

“When I first toured The Martin, I fell in love with its character, and character is very important to me. The space immediately resonated with me, from the original wooden arches along the ceiling to the way the overall design still echoes the original church. There’s just so much untapped creative potential for making memories.”

The Martin Event Space at 134440 Holmes Road in Martin City.

Long worked in a supporting role at The Martin for a while before taking full ownership in January 2024 and diving in to write a new chapter. Spend a few minutes with her and you’ll easily see she’s on a mission. She seems determined and tireless, constantly bouncing between taking phone calls, scribbling notes, and organizing resources.

“I love what I do, but honestly, I just love being here,” says Long, zipping around The Martin, knocking out an endless stream of tasks as we talk. “This is my dream job. I’m one of those lucky people who has found a job that doesn’t feel like work. I’ve thought about something like this for so many years and now I’m actually doing it!”

An event planning resume that stretches all the way to Lake Tahoe is impressive, but Long’s enthusiasm is what truly defines her. She’s a bundle of energy — highly creative, highly ambitious, eyes wide open, imagine the possibilities — kind of energy.

You rarely come across someone who has so much fun putting in so many hours. Her love of The Martin extends from the building itself to every customer browsing for a place to create something special.

“I’m so excited about the fact that we’ve already booked more than 30 events at The Martin this year. That’s far more than last year’s bookings. I think people know something special is happening here.”

Rachel Long owns and operates The Martin Event Space.

A Creative Concept for Every Customer

Event planning and hosting is an increasingly competitive industry. There are plenty of options, and gone are the days of simply opening a space and offering a menu of rigid packages.

Successful planners now go the extra mile. Long is already known for going many extra miles with creative concepts, carefully shaping The Martin around each customer, from their distinct preferences to the realities of their budget.

“Listening closely to people is a high priority. I’ve brought so many in to tour The Martin and I’ve paid close attention to their feedback. Everyone has different ideas. I’ve learned that it’s very important to build events around each customer. It shouldn’t be the other way around. The venue shouldn’t just push one-size-fits-all packages.”

Photos courtesy of The Martin Event Space

Sure, The Martin makes an unforgettable venue for all the usual occasions that come to mind when you think of an event space: weddings, corporate events, birthdays, fundraisers, graduations, anniversaries, etc. But there’s even more going on here that’s raising The Martin’s profile and giving it new context.

Long dreams up themes for fun events and simply throws open her doors to the public. Maybe you attended the 1990s theme dance party or the family-oriented after party topping off the Martin City St. Patrick’s Parade. Did you get tickets to the Murder Mystery Dinner that immerses costumed guests in a crime-solving experience? Approximately 80 people snatched them up.

“I’m open to anything that brings a crowd together for a good time. Public events invite people from all walks of life and introduce them to this one-of-a-kind space. I don’t want The Martin to sit empty ever again. It’s not just a critical goal of my business, it’s what this space deserves. I want it to thrive as an active part of the Martin City community.”

The Martin is certainly seeing action beyond traditional weekend bashes. It’s positioned to become a routine meeting space for professional groups and organizations during the week.

You also might find photographers taking advantage of the classy interior for elaborate portrait shoots, students streaming in for classes and workshops, and yoga practitioners stretching in an atmosphere still vibrant with more than a century of history.

Photo courtesy of The Martin Event Space

“I customize event packages for recurring events because they’re in demand,” says Long, ticking off examples. “I’ve got professional athletes reaching out to schedule private dinners a few times a year. Businesses want a private space for regular meetings away from the office. I can make just about any purpose work, and that gives me satisfaction.”

Long’s ‘creative concepts’ extend down to the financial details. She works closely with each customer to customize a budget, and then turns cartwheels to pull off an event that pushes the potential of every penny, and brings The Martin to life in new, exciting ways.

“So many event spaces are either really high-end with sticker shock prices, or really low-end with blank walls and a tin roof. I want The Martin to offer something for everyone. My creativity is just as important in planning what works from a financial perspective as it is in choosing colors and cuisine.”

Modernizing for The Martin’s New Era

Since taking over, Long has renovated key pieces of The Martin while retaining the venue’s age-old charm. Upgrades include polishing bridal suites and dividing them for privacy. Men and women involved in wedding parties now have separate spaces that can also be joined as necessary.

Rentable props, ranging from lights and signs to fabrics and greenery, are conveniently stored and displayed for customers to further customize their events. And Long’s created a specific meeting space with classy furniture and a visual monitor that will soon be attached to the wall for projecting documents and other media in front of groups.

“Imagination goes a long way at The Martin. We can transform spaces in many, many ways. In addition to offering the right space size and location, we can round-out your experience with props and lighting that complete the setting.”

Conference table and gaming table perfect for a relaxed off-site business gathering.

Refreshed landscaping is also on Long’s radar as she eyes The Martin’s patio overlooking Martin City’s main drag down 135th Street. Customers can expect more lighting to illuminate a perfect atmosphere for outdoor events in the coming months, plus bar refinements to go with a cozy fire pit.

“I want to enhance the experience the space offers while preserving the character of the building that drew me in at first sight. That balance is key. I want to get it exactly right.”

Full Commitment to Success

How do you get a new business off to a great start? Any consultant will tell you, it has a lot to do with spreading the word, getting your name out, and connecting with every corner of your community. But making that kind of effort is a struggle for many entrepreneurs. Rachel Long is the opposite.

She’s a textbook example of how aggressive outreach can launch a business right out of the gates. Long shows up to all kinds of meetings and networking events related to her business, relentlessly pursues audiences on social media platforms, and stands ready to explore all other opportunities to reach anyone she might help or might help her.

“Networking and facilitating word-of-mouth buzz is so important. People have a great experience with us and tell their friends. I think that’s how you build a brand, and it’s especially critical for a business like mine.”

The Martin’s social media audience has more than doubled since the Longs took ownership.

Collaboration is key. Long cultivates partnerships with a wide array of local vendors and keeps an eye out for ways to join community events in Martin City and beyond.

Her husband, Eric, is a culinary powerhouse on his own, already bringing a wide range of food options to customers of The Martin. But the Longs are also excited by the prospect of bringing in restaurants from our neighborhood. And they hope to revive The Martin’s theater roots with more events featuring local theater groups and similar, live entertainment.

“I juggle many roles right now and I plan to add employees as we scale up. There’s so much we can do at this historic, unique building and we’re coordinating all the right support around it. The Martin is a dream come true for me, and I hope it shows in everything we do here.”

It certainly does, Rachel. Your energy is infectious, and your pursuit of The Martin’s full glory is inspiring. Thank you for your passionate devotion to the success of one of our most treasured landmarks in the heart of our community.

The Martin Event Space
13440 Holmes Road
Kansas City, MO 64145