John: Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Maureen Woodman, from Woodman’s of Essex, a restaurant and catering company in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about having a party at the home of the Fried Clam. Welcome, Maureen.
Maureen: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.
Types of Parties Hosted at Woodman’s
John: Sure. Maureen, what types of parties do you host at Woodman’s of Essex?
Maureen: Most of the time at Woodman’s, we have a few different locations on the property, including the restaurant. A lot of times they seem to be personal parties, birthday parties, celebrations, [or it] could be a small company party. A lot of times people might go kayaking or take a ride on the Essex River Cruise and then come back and eat at Woodman’s. We have hosted a lot of schools under our tent. A lot of people really enjoy high tide and seeing that marsh view out there, and then, of course, we have the sports bar, which seems to gravitate towards a 30th, 40th or [even a] 50th birthday. We’ve had quite a few 30th birthdays this year.
Then, we have the function hall, which would be more of a larger party, maybe a corporate gathering for hospitals or schools or somewhere where you’re doing some audio training or business training.
Rehearsal Dinners at Woodman’s
John: I know that you host weddings at the function hall as well. What about things like rehearsal dinners and things like that?
Maureen: The rehearsal dinner is really a niche that we do quite a few of, and all of our venues work really well for that. In the wintertime, we do a lot of them in the lower deck, in the outer space, which is the fourth and fifth dining room of the restaurant. In the summertime, from April to November, we can have them up in the Top Deck, which is the dining room that’s upstairs, it seats up to 70. We do a few of them at the tent area, pretty much [in] May and June and September.
A lot of times, it’s harder to book a rehearsal or Friday night at the restaurant at the tent, because the tent is really busy with the follow-up from the restaurant. Then, of course, the sports bar, a lot of people like to have their rehearsal dinner downstairs.
Having a Party at Woodman’s vs Having a Party at Home
John: Okay. Is it easier or harder to plan a party at Woodman’s versus hosting at home?
Maureen: It’s much easier to have the party at Woodman’s as opposed to your house, because everything’s there. The tents, the tables, the chairs, the glasses, the alcohol, the ice — you don’t have to worry about anything. We come in, you just show up, everything’s right there for [you], and whatever you need, if you need extra or more, it’s easy for us to just accommodate you. We have all the different linens to pick from and all the pretty chairs at the function hall. At the sports bar, you have all the games that are down there, you can play pool or cribbage or foosball or darts.
When you’re upstairs in the room, it’s a large space that you can run around in — the Top Deck [is great] if you have small children. The tent is always a great place to have a party, [and] again, if you have children involved, they can run around. You don’t have to worry that they’re going to make a mess in your house. Then, of course, in the restaurant, you have that feeling of nostalgia, you know you’re at the home of the fried clam and it just works. The tables are really large there, too.
Other Advantages of Having a Party at Woodman’s
John: All right. You mentioned that if you have your party at Woodman’s, then you’re right there, you’re able to maybe cook more food if you happen to need it or something like that. Are there some other advantages to holding your party at Woodman’s?
Maureen: The biggest thing still is convenience for you. You just can go. If more people show up [or] less people show up, we’re going to handle everything for you. You really can be a guest at your own party if you’re on the property.
John: Is it an advantage as well to just know that you’re having your party at the same place where the catering is coming from as well, as opposed to hiring a location, and then having a separate caterer that comes in?
Maureen: Well, it’s great because you have less people to deal with, so whenever you have to deal with less vendors or less people, you have one-stop shopping. For you, it just would be one phone call, one bill, one contract. You can get everything done right there.
John: What does Woodman’s location offer that maybe other function halls might not?
Maureen: I think that Woodman’s has a lot of really open space. There’s plenty of parking, there’s a lot of movement outside. We really don’t have any steps or differential dining rooms. If people have to go around, it’s all flat plane, there’s no stepping down or stepping up in our spaces.
John: It’s very accessible?
Maureen: It’s accessible for everybody. We do have stairs that do go to the Top Deck, so that’s always something that we try to explain to people. If you want to get upstairs to have that beautiful view, you do have to make sure that everyone in the party can get up there.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Maureen: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.
John: For more information about Woodman’s Catering Services, visit the Woodman’s website, at woodmans.com, or call 978-768-2559.