Putting the “Special” in Events: The Gables Team

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We pride ourselves on our Southern-inspired cuisine, but did you know that comes with a heapin’ helpin’ of Southern hospitality? Three of our favorite ambassadors are our special events pros: Kelly Donahue, Samantha Westenberger and Alex James. These rock stars make sure your event at The Gables at Chadds Ford is planned to perfection and runs smoothly from start to finish. Your guests will remember you were the host with the most, thanks to our team.

The Gables was recently named a “most popular” wedding venue by PartySpace.com. That nod confirmed that our great food, amazing ambience, reasonable room fees, one-stop shopping for other vendors and convenient location make us the right spot for corporate meetings, business lunches, showers, graduation celebrations, birthday parties, holiday gatherings, banquets … you name it!

Take a moment to meet Kelly, Samantha and Alex. Then let us know how we can help you design and execute your next important gathering.

Kelly Donahue

Kelly joined us in 2013 after two decades in the restaurant industry as a server, bartender and manager. It was serendipity: She met with Ann Kolenick, our co-owner, to arrange her father’s 70th birthday party, and as they went over the details, it became obvious that Kelly would be a great fit on Ann’s team. Her parents were delighted with the party and to learn that their daughter would be working at their favorite restaurant.

Kelly likes working events because no two days are the same and there are a lot of moving parts to manage. “Brides like to arrive early to help set up, plus they have hair and makeup teams stationed in our Wedding Suite,” she added. “Throughout the day, Samantha, Ann and I do a lot of the decorating and special touches, even before our banquet team arrives—and they show up three hours before the beginning of the event!”

It’s no surprise, then, that Kelly’s favorite events are weddings. She says, “What other job is there that you get to spend the day with a couple who are having one of the best days of their lives? My favorite part is the ‘first look.’ I love watching the bride and groom ‘see’ each other for the first time right before the ceremony. I also love seeing guests’ reactions to the venue. The Gables is a beautiful space and seeing and hearing the compliments is wonderful.”

Kelly also enjoys hosting couples for menu tastings. She notes that couples like being in the venue and trying differents options as they talk over details with our staff.

So what does someone who spends her time creating special days for people do for fun? In her spare time, Kelly likes to travel. She’s been to 46 states and six countries. Next adventure on her wish list: South America.

Samantha Westenberger

Samantha came to The Gables in 2015 after trying her hand in other ventures like retail. She started as a hostess, but kept “bothering” Kelly and Ann to help with events. They saw her stellar customer service skills, plus her interest and drive, and convinced her to join the special events team, a decision Samantha calls “one of the best I’ve made.”

Although special events can be hectic, Samantha emphasizes they’re fun, too. She thrives on pulling together the different pieces. “There’s a lot of setup and decorating for weddings and parties,” she explained. “It’s all hands on deck on a wedding day, in particular, as we work to transform the room into what the couple has been planning.”

Like Kelly, it’s easy to see how invested Samantha is in events, and how much she relishes working on weddings. Her favorite part is watching the bride walk down the aisle. A “hopeless romantic,” Samantha tears up every time a couple gets married.

“The fact that I get to be a part of one of the most important days in someone’s life is a cool feeling,” she said. “It’s fun getting to know each couple, nailing the ins and outs of the details that they envision for their big day and then making it all happen.”

Samantha’s spare time is filled with shooting photos. “I love photography. I hope to open my own shop one day with all of my photographs,” she said.

Alex James

Alex started at The Gables as a bartender in 2015 after stints as a bartender and server at other local restaurants. When the opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance to join the special events team and captain the banquet staff.

“The great part about doing events at The Gables is that every day brings new challenges. We handle all types of events, from corporate to personal,” he said. “Different events, different people—there’s always something new to figure out, and that makes the job very rewarding.”

Alex has a deep sense of responsibility and derives great satisfaction from creating moments guests will remember as one of the best days of their lives. This is true for all types of parties and celebrations, but it also applies to well-executed corporate events. At The Gables, every event of every size gets the same attention to detail.

In his tenure here, Alex has worked on countless events, but one stands out. “There was a wedding toward the end of summer that was more work and more detail than we had put into any event so far that year,” he explained. “A couple of times during the night, each of us got to step back and see the results of all of the planning and execution, and to see how it was all worth it. That was my favorite so far.”

Alex’s spare time passion is something few people know he digs—until now. “I’m an avid disc golfer.”

It’s obvious that we think our team is tops, but don’t take our word for it! Check out these kind words from two repeat clients.

“Partnering with The Gables Chadds Ford doesn’t feel like a business relationship; it feels like working with family! Hotties~4~Humanity has been blessed to partner with Ann and her team at The Gables for more than two years,” said Hotties~4~Humanity founder and CEO Karen Ridge. “The attention to detail at every event is top-notch. There are always complimentary flower arrangements on the tables and a special seasonal cocktail just for us. The food is great—but of course, since chef Dave Wenerd is a Best of the Main Line winner. I feel we’ve developed a lifelong friendship with the team at The Gables and they are as much a part of #teamhotties as the ladies on our team. Companies that give back to their communities are the best companies to frequent. They truly have an interest in not just themselves, but the people and the area in which they live and work.”

Cheryl B. Kuhn, IOM, president of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said “The Gables at Chadds Ford is a valued member of the Chamber. Ann and her fabulous staff—Kelly, Alex and Sam—provide five-star customer service. We host our monthly networking luncheon, Network at Noon, at The Gables. The event requirements change month to month and the team never misses a beat. The rustic, farm-style private upstairs space provides an incredible venue for this event. The meal—for anywhere from 35 to 50 guests—is always different and delicious! We couldn’t ask for more.”

The entire Gables family looks forward to working with you. You can check availability online, or contact us to learn more.

The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.

Nina Malone

Hotties~4~Humanities image: Sandrien B Photography