HI STEVEN, HOW DID YOU CONNECT WITH WEDGEWOOD EVENTS?
Our venue is located on a golf course, and the course owner - knowing our plans - introduced us to John Zaruka. We started talking.
WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PARTNER?
I’ve been in foodservice for my entire adult life and, along with my business partner, we built a successful catering business as well as two large event facilities but we had both determined that it was time to simplify our lives as we had done this for a long time.
We had just taken one of our locations and re-purposed it into a craft beer taproom and restaurant with additional event space, and we were delighted to be offered the opportunity to lease our other location to Wedgewood Events while still building equity and simplifying our professional lives.
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS & HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN OWNER?
Ernie Oetter and I started Panache Catering, Inc. a very high-end off-premises catering company in 1982 on a very limited budget and we did only off-premises work for the first 15 years, then built our first event facility.
We built a second facility in 2004. This turned into Ken Caryl Vista, which is now operated by Wedgewood Events. My business partner and I operated together for 34 years prior to his untimely death in 2015. His widow is still my silent partner but I operate both our taproom restaurant and real estate holding company for my family and his.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET INTO OWNING AND OPERATING YOUR FACILITY?
We’d toyed with owning our own facility off and on from about 1990 onwards... but we couldn’t make the numbers work the way we would have liked, so we didn’t ever move forward.
Then, after we’d been engaged to do some consulting work for a local foundation with a large botanic garden, we realized we needed a facility that could do more than one event at a time for our business model - it’s the best way to make the numbers work for us, so we did it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TRANSITION SINCE LEASING OUT YOUR FACILITY’S FOOD & BEVERAGE OPERATIONS?
Good question – obviously we care about catering, it’s the heartbeat of our original business, but it’s been easy. The timing worked out and partnering with the team at Wedgewood Events has simplified everything significantly - which I feel is appropriate for my life stage.
Over the last few years, I’ve had to get used to running our business as a single operator rather than working side by side with a business partner, and having Wedgewood Events to look after events, food & beverage has been tremendously helpful.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER OWNERS/ OPERATORS?
Be certain that the proposed agreement will serve you a long time by analyzing your own business needs, goals, and thoughts about retaining or selling your property.
WHAT’S NEXT, STEVEN?
Continuing the balance of work and time for myself and my wife in the later years of my career.
If you believe your venue has untapped potential, running your event center feels like work you'd rather offload, or you're intrigued by how the professionals would manage your location - reach out! We're here to answer your questions and help you make your event venture a success.