Interview with the Cockrums

Shawn and Lorna Cockrum of Come to the Table Catering in New Bloomfield, Missouri, officially joined with the Brick District Playhouse in May 2024 to cater private events and help with events management at the establishment. 

While the Brick District Playhouse/Callaway Arts Council board continues to manage the historic venue, the Cockrums are excited to help the Playhouse develop into a premiere event facility, where small and large groups can rent the front ― which was previously used as restaurant space ― or back, which now boasts seating both downstairs and on two levels upstairs in the balcony, with or without tables.

Entertainment will continue at the Playhouse as before, keeping the arts alive in downtown Fulton (watch for a detailed list of all public events soon).

With such exciting news taking place at the Brick District Playhouse, the board sat down with Shawn in between catered events to celebrate and learn more about the couple’s vision for the Playhouse. Read further to learn more!

Where are you from originally?


Lorna is a Callawegian, having grown up on the Renoe family farm outside of New Bloomfield. I, on the other hand, had a more nomadic path. I started out in San Bernardino, California, as the youngest of five children then moved to Missouri for a while, then spent the bulk of my time in New Mexico before living in Texas and then back to Missouri. I like to say I’m a Californian by birth, a New Mexican by sheer good luck, and a Missourian by the grace of God.  



What is your other “side gig”/profession when you aren’t catering, and how long have you been in those jobs?


Lorna works at the Missouri State Capitol as a legislative assistant for Representatives David Tyson Smith of Columbia, Missouri, and Michael Burton of Affton, Missouri. She keeps both representatives on task and on time, but most enjoys working with the constituents of the two districts. Lorna is a very effective problem solver and really gets to show that off as she works with the people of the two districts. 

I worked in the newspaper business after graduating from college, and that’s how I wound up as the sports editor of the Fulton Sun in the late ‘80s. After Lorna and I had our first child, I felt the need to get a “real job” and stop watching sports full time, so I went to work for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, retiring in 2022 as the director of Student Support Services, where I was able to provide programs that benefited migrant students, English learners, students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care. After my retirement from the state, I went to work for the International Institute of St. Louis’ Missouri Office of Refugee Administration, where I provide programs for school districts across the state as they welcome students who are refugees. 


Do you both like to cook? What is your favorite dish that Lorna makes for Come to the Table gatherings?


Yes, we both like to cook, but we are very different in our approach. Lorna cooks by feel and taste. I don’t know if she ever uses a measuring cup. Me, on the other hand, I like the scientific method. In my opinion, Lorna’s best dishes are her lasagna and beef stroganoff. My best contributions are the smoked briskets and pork tenderloins.  


What are your goals for Come to the Table and the Playhouse?

Our goals are different for both. For Come to the Table, we just want to keep doing what we’ve been doing, giving people memorable experiences. The food is the main course, but the preparation, decoration and presentation are all just as important. For the Playhouse, it’s sharing it with everybody we can. We want people, especially people in Callaway County, to think of it as their own unique place where they want to meet and celebrate. There is really no place like it in the central part of the state, and holding your wedding, anniversary, prom, baby shower, birthday party, or class reunion here will make it even more memorable. 


What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday?


We attend early services at Union Hill Baptist Church then enjoy relaxing with the family over a big meal that Lorna prepares. There is nothing better than hearing her say, “OK, everybody, come to the table!”


Please describe how Come to the Table has evolved over the years.


It’s been a long process, but it started when Lorna worked at the Fulton Country Club for SKG Catering while in high school and beyond. She was always impressed by the way her boss, Sharon Gilleland Holt, would present the food and provide such great service. From there, Lorna would make food for our church youth groups and the New Bloomfield Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. She would host more than 40 students every month who probably mostly came for her food. Cooking for large groups has always been her passion, and she has sought out ways to do it. From there, some of the students we served while they were in high school asked her to cook for their weddings, and things have just grown from there. It all started around 2000 and has steadily grown since.



What has inspired you to grow your catering business and expand to the Brick District Playhouse? 


We really haven’t looked at it as if we are expanding the catering business: We are mostly looking at it as an opportunity to branch out to do more planning and event hosting. We have been very lucky to cater from St. Louis all the way to southwest Missouri and almost every venue in mid-Missouri. We enjoy not only providing the food, but helping the venue owners and parties have enjoyable experiences. Lorna has always had great ideas on how an event could have gone better and been special for the hosts, and we look at the opportunity the Brick District Playhouse, Callaway Arts Council has given us as a way to let her light shine.



How is that expansion going so far?

So far things are great, but we are just getting started. We are looking forward to showing off the Playhouse as one of the premier event venues in the area. There so much potential when you consider how unique the Playhouse is, and Fulton, for that matter. Fulton is steeped in history, and the Brick District is central to that. So much has happened in this little town that needs to be celebrated continually. We feel the Playhouse will be a big part of those celebrations.



Please tell a little about your family.

Lorna and I come from large families, and we love to all be together. We have two children: Megan, who is 31, and Cameron, 25. Megan is a nurse at the Columbia Orthopedic Group and Cameron works for Compass Health Network as an Outreach and Enrollment Specialist. Megan married Joshua Leibrandt in July of 2023 to round things out. Both of our children are graduates of New Bloomfield High School, and Megan graduated from Lincoln University, and Cameron is a Mizzou grad. 



What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

We don’t have a lot of time for many hobbies, but we do enjoy working at the Holt Summit Food Pantry one night a month at Union Hill Baptist Church. We are also big fans of the beach, so anytime we get a chance we head to our happy spot. 

Consider booking your next event with the Playhouse by contacting [email protected] or 573-342-3388.

Phil Glenn speaks on Brick District Playhouse history and where it is today. 

Video posted June 7th, 2024.

Brick District Playhouse announces ribbon-cutting ceremony following completion of extensive renovations to the historic building

For Immediate Release

Fulton, Mo. – May 8, 2024: The Brick District Playhouse at 613 Court Street announced that extensive renovations to the historic building have been accomplished and will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting celebration at 8:15 a.m. on June 5. 

Renovations originally began not long after B&B Movie Company announced in 2005 that it would build a modern, eight-screen theater at 521 Commons Drive. At that time, the company donated the facility built in 1928 to the community.

In 2015, the Callaway Arts Council reorganized to oversee renovations to the building, which soon became known as the Brick District Playhouse. 

Today the Playhouse is a premiere entertainment facility featuring a stage, many of the building’s original Art Deco features and a variety of seating options, including dinner and cocktail tables. The extensive upstairs balcony remained unfinished until this spring, when additional tables, seating options, railings, a suspended ceiling, flooring, and new lighting fixtures were added, polishing off the venue.  

“Completing the large-scale renovations to this beautiful facility has been the ultimate goal of the Callaway Arts Council,” explained Tom Riley, Callaway Arts Council president, who added that long-term plans to the balcony area also include adding restrooms upstairs and renovating what was once the movie theater projection room, but the board’s original plans have been met. “We truly feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in this impressive project and are looking forward to a full celebration with the Callaway County community early this summer.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony coincides with transitions taking place in the front of the facility, which has been used as restaurant space since the Brick District Playhouse opened. Court Street Café owners Chris and Beth Johnston announced on April 27 that their last day at the Café would be Friday, May 3 — they are undertaking a new adventure while continuing to operate their other local restaurant, Ohana Pizzeria, at 61 W. 2nd Street in Fulton.

The Johnstons emphasized they will be available for catering services at Playhouse events and that they cherish the relationships they formed with the Playhouse board, Café staff and local clientele.

Debbie LaRue, Callaway Arts Council vice president, expressed heartfelt gratitude from the Board of Directors to the Johnstons for their year of service.  

“The Board has determined the best way to move forward is to name a Coordinator to promote our entire historic facility as a hidden gem of central Missouri and a significant part of our community”, explained LaRue. We welcome input from the community about what they would like to see in the future.

All three sections of the Brick District Playhouse — front, back and balcony — can be rented by private and non-profit groups for a variety of uses. Plays, musicals, concerts, wedding receptions, class reunions and proms are among the largest rentals and can seat up to 300, depending on set up. Space can also be rented for smaller gatherings in the front of house from baby and bridal showers to book clubs. 

LaRue reflected, “This really is an affordable space for local rentals and entertainment for our entire community.”

To ensure the community benefits from the renovated Playhouse, the Callaway Arts Council is partnering with Shawn and Lorna Cockrum to provide venue and event management services. The Cockrums are owners of Come to the Table Catering and Events, and they will be an integral part in the daily operations of the facility.  

“It’s very important to us to see all of the people of Central Missouri enjoying the glory of the Playhouse,” commented Shawn Cockrum. “This is a truly unique and historical space, and our goal is to make sure it is utilized and enjoyed.”

The Cockrums are currently putting together a calendar that will include educational and artistic events and hope to help groups and organizations plan their private functions. 

“To borrow from the art world, we are a blank canvas with endless possibilities,” Shawn Cockrum added. “We’re hear to help make dreams come true.”

For more information on the Brick District Playhouse, please contact [email protected] or 573-342-3388.