Sunday, September 24, 2017

Something Old, Something New

    I'm ending the 2017 wedding season with a fresh new look at an old establishment. I love hunting for venues that give our DIY couples more space, more menu options, more services; without having to spend more money. But we didn't have to look far for this venue, it has been in our backyard for a very long time.

New Britain, CT has several well known landmarks: Central Connecticut State University, home of the Blue Devils; world renowned Stanley Tools - Black & Decker headquarters; Capital Lunch, a local favorite for hot dogs and chili sauce; and finally Stanley Golf Course, whose 9 hole "Blue" course ranks 4.3 out of 5 stars on Since 1955, the golf course has given a wide range of amateurs and professionals many hours of enjoyment. But it is their newly renovated club house that has got our putters all excited.

Stanley's club house used to be known as The Whinstone Tavern, not well known for its banquets, as it was a good spot for golfers to have lunch or a drink after they played the course. We absolutely adored the Whinstone! We knew it to be a hidden gem for banquets and weddings. The mother/daughter team who ran it were great at providing excellent food and stellar service at a price most of our DIY brides could afford. We loved it so much, we struck a preferred vendor partnership with them; where we referred clients to them for events, they referred customers to us for decor services. It was a match made in heaven, both of us owners building an empire. But just like brides change their minds about their wedding decor ten times, establishment owners change too. And in December of 2015, our favorite mother-daughter team decided to give up their lease to the Whinstone.

It wasn't until this past summer that I ventured in to the club house to introduce myself to the new owners. Now called The Back Nine Tavern, I discovered my hidden gem has blossomed into a diamond!

The Back Nine Tavern is owned by the Calvanese family, who are known throughout Connecticut for owning/operating the very pristine Aqua Turf Club, a sprawling banquet estate in Plantsville, CT.  This is the second location for Back Nine, its sister club being on the Southington Country Club golf course. When I walked in, I wasn't expecting as many renovations to have been done, but I shouldn't have been surprised; the new owners do have the money to pour into it.

What's old? Nothing. What's new? Everything! New floors, new carpet, an extended bar, and a very updated, very cool tiki-themed patio. And that's just the club house!

Redesigned L-shaped patio
Tiki styled umbrella tables
The extended bar

Inside the banquet room, they've added a full service bar, so your guests won't have to leave the room and share the bar with golfers who may have stopped into the club house for a drink. They've redone the hardwood floors, added vaulted ceilings, new light fixtures...they even purchased new chairs!!! Sorry, as a decorator, I get excited when venues have nice chairs that look great with any decor that's set up. LMBO!!

Vaulted ceilings
New floors and updated fireplace
New lighting fixtures
They added a bar!
Love the new chairs

I loved the updates! So much that I ended up having my own event there! The food and service were fabulous, as to be expected following in the Aqua Turf's footsteps. But what I was most surprised with, was the price. I anticipated an escalation in menu prices BECAUSE of all the money the new management poured into the facility. I expected inflated buffet prices of $65 or more per person, as opposed to the affordable pricing of $50 and under the previous owners charged. Nope, I was wrong! Happily wrong!

I only faced two challenges with the Back Nine Tavern, and the first was it's name. In my personal opinion, although the facility is a great choice for hosting an event as important and sophisticated as your wedding reception or in my case, my anniversary party; I was really torn with putting that name on an invitation. The name was not sophisticated. Not a golf enthusiast, I had no idea what the "back nine" was, but I definitely knew I didn't want that name on an invitation that I would look at in 20 years and reminisce about the memories. Call me bad and bougey, but I wasn't putting a golf term on my invitations! So I fudged the name a little and called it "The Tavern". Problem solved! 

The second challenge was the linens that were on the tables when I got there to set up my decor. I expected Aqua Turf grandeur, or atleast venue industry standard floor length tablecloths. What I got was not that at all. Thank goodness my linen vendor answered her phone on a Sunday! I was able to bring in my own linens and the Back Nine's banquet manager even helped me remove their linens and put my rented ones on! Again, problem resolved.

Any challenges that may come up with this venue or any other, make sure you hire a planner or day of coordinator to help advise you on what to do before, and during your special event. A wedding professional is always a great resource. But if your budget doesn't allow for one, ask the staff at the Back Nine, I'm sure they'll point you in the right direction.

So if you're planning an intimate wedding reception for 100 guests or less, the Back Nine Tavern is an affordable and excellent choice. I had no complaints for my event, and I'm sure you won't either. They've done a spectacular job at turning something old and wonderful, into something new and improved.