Catering Spotlight: Valentino’s

angelaCheck out some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Over the next several weeks, we will be putting each of our approved caterers in the “spotlight” and giving them a chance to answer a few questions about their food, beverages, and services. This week we are putting Valentino’s in the catering spotlight. Who’s hungry for pizza?

  1. Who or what influences your catering?

Our catering goal is always to provide exceptional service, fresh food, and plenty of it. We always overestimate your numbers and bring more food than we need so we don’t run out.

  1. What sets your catering business apart from others in the industry?

A personal touch and the ability to truly cater to your needs (we do far more than pizza and pasta! We can do a carving station, full breakfast or brunch cater, box lunches, baked chicken dinner, mashed potatoes and sides, desserts and more).

  1. What is one thing most people do not know about your business?

side-image-foodMost people don’t know that 99% of the items on our menu are made from scratch…including our pizza dough that is made by hand. We use 100% real cheese and make all of our sauces and other buffet items ourselves. This is unusual in the pizza industry. We could cut our food costs by using pre-made items but we won’t.

  1. What is your chef’s favorite entrée to make?

Our incredible cherry dessert pizza….it’s addictive!

  1. What is your most popular menu item?

It’s a toss-up between our Mac & Cheese pizza and our Bacon Cheeseburger pizza. Both are unique and so delicious!

For more information about ISU Alumni Center approved caterers click here.

Wake up & Wed

angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

The Alumni Center kicked off the spring wedding season this past weekend with a morning wedding. Let me share with you some reasons why I think morning weddings are the hidden gem in the realm of weddings.

Coffee. Need I say more? Who doesn’t love a big morning cup of coffee? And why not incorporate it into your special day? Not only can you have a delicious cup of coffee in your special wedding day mug while getting ready for your ceremony, but you can also have your caterer set up a full-service coffee bar at your ceremony or reception for all guests to enjoy.

pancakesBrunch. I love everything about brunch from the juice to the muffins, to the egg casserole, to the bacon, to the smoked salmon and bagels. Right now food stations are the trend, so having an omelet or waffle station is the perfect way to add fresh, made to order food items to the brunch menu.

Orange and tomato juice. With champagne and vodka, of course! Mimosas made from fresh squeezed orange juice are a delicious and sweet morning treat, and you can’t go wrong with a Bloody Mary bar. Don’t forget to include all the fixings like Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, pickle spears, celery stalks, salt, pepper, and lemons.

Lighting. Beautiful sunrises speak for themselves, especially if you are having an outdoor ceremony. Not to mention how incredibly romantic it is to get married in the morning light. Photographers appreciate the lighting and it gives way for amazing wedding photos.

Afternoon. After a morning wedding you have the ENTIRE rest of the day to spend with your new husband or wife! You can just hang out at the hotel or bed and breakfast and relive the beautiful ceremony, talk and laugh, or take a nap. You could take a stroll at the park and end up enjoying a delicious evening meal and glass of wine or two on the patio of your favorite restaurant. Or you could make final preparations for your honeymoon if you are leaving the next morning. And don’t forget about the fact that you have all afternoon to let the effects of your morning mimosas or Bloody Marys to wear off so you are ready to greet the next day as a happily married couple instead of a hung over married couple.

Now I can’t pretend everything about morning weddings is perfect or even better than evening weddings. Getting up before the sun rises is hard on a normal day let alone your wedding day. Feeling rushed because you only have the morning to get ready and not all day can add a lot of stress to some couple’s wedding day. If you are expecting to spend less on your wedding because you are having everything take place in the morning, think again. You will most likely spend the same or even more.

Morning or night, at the end of the day, you are marrying your best friend. Isn’t that all that really matters? Happy Planning!

Catering Spotlight: Cookies, etc.

angelaCheck out some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Over the next several weeks, we will be putting each of our approved caterers in the “spotlight” and giving them a chance to answer a few questions about their food, beverages, and services. This week Cookies, etc. is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!

  1. Who or what influences your catering?

As a specialty caterer we love sharing our made-from-scratch cookies!  We use family recipes to make our ¼ lb. cookies and cater them fresh from the oven.  The lessons I learned in my mom’s kitchen influence me daily: “Always try to improve on what you did yesterday”; “You eat with your eyes as well as your stomach”; and, one I tell my employees, “If you say that’s good enough, it isn’t.”

  1. What sets your catering business apart from others in the industry?

We’re unique in the industry—scratch made items that are incredibly fresh.  It is our policy to sell our products the same day they are baked.  We want customers to get the best quality product we can make.  In addition to our ¼ lb. cookies we also make large decorated and mini cookies by special order along with muffins and cinnamon rolls.

  1. What is one thing most people do not know about your business?

Many people think we are a franchise business.  My family started our business 30+ years ago using our own cookie recipes and family members continue to own/manage 3 locations along with a national mail order business today.

  1. cookiesWhat is your most popular menu item?

Chocolate chip cookies have always been #1.

For more information about ISU Alumni Center approved caterers click here.

Five-Question Catering Spotlight: Olde Main Brewing Company

angelaCheck out some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Over the next several weeks, we will be putting each of our approved caterers in the “spotlight” and giving them a chance to answer a few questions about their food, beverages, and services. This week is Olde Main Brewing Company, more than a downtown Ames restaurant and brewery.

Heels for Hope Event

  1. Who or what influences your catering?
    My clients influence me the most, learning what type of event they are holding or what type of special occasion they are celebrating helps create a vision for the event and inspires me to create and capture the essence of their event. Working with brides-to-be is especially influential, nowadays there are so many options for couples that creating their menu is influential as well as just plain fun!
  1. What sets your catering business apart from others in the industry?
    Cy's LoungeOlde Main Brewing Company’s catering services are unique, custom as well as constantly changing.  We strive to provide our customers with one on one personal service from the initial planning stages to the very last detail. No event is too small or too large, we will cater to it all. The staff at Olde Main pay careful attention to detail and offer exceptional customer service from beginning to end.  While we offer a full catering menu, our Chef will happily develop custom menu items based on your requests. Chef Jamie has been a Chef all over the world and is influenced by many different cultures and types of food.
  1. What is one thing most people do not know about your business?
    That we in fact cater. Most people think that we are just a restaurant and that we brew beer. We offer a full range of catering services for any occasion large or small. We have full service catering as well as full service bar catering, one of the few in Ames!
  1. What is your chef’s favorite entrée to make?
    Many of Chef Jamie’s menu items are influenced by the French. He does a wonderful job of tying in American cuisine with that of other cultures as well. Chef Jamie’s range is limitless and he takes great pride in preparing and presenting his food. Any dish that a guest raves about brings a smile to his face!
  1. What is your most popular menu item?
    From our catering menu, the most popular item would have to be the Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breast, oven-roasted chicken breast, filled with spinach, boursin cheese and sun dried tomatoes in boursin cream sauce. This entrée item not only looks great and tastes great, but is hands down our most popular buffet entrée item.

For more information about ISU Alumni Center approved caterers click here.

Five-Question Catering Spotlight: ISU Catering

angelaCheck out some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Over the next several weeks, we will be putting each of our approved caterers in the “spotlight” and giving them a chance to answer a few questions about their food, beverages, and services. First up is ISU Catering, and we know this post is going to make you hungry – guaranteed!

  1. Who or what influences your catering?
    We blend contemporary culinary style with the honesty and simplicity of classic Midwestern cooking to provide meals rich in cultural influences from the heartland.
  1. What sets your catering business apart from others in the industry?
    What sets us apart, is the broad range of meal and service options available to those in the greater Ames area. Our full-service catering is a one-stop-shop operation that covers every meal type, all the needed supplies, equipment, decorations, and trained servers and managers to ensure a perfect event.
  1. What is one thing most people do not know about your business?
    ISU Catering is often confused with being just a part of the university’s residential dining service. But what most people don’t know is that ISU Catering has five, professionally degreed chefs that support the catering operation. That and the fact that we handle almost 5,000 catering events annually.
  1. What is your chef’s favorite entrée to make?
    Prime rib would be high on the list – roasting larger cuts of meat is a great challenge. You can’t rush the process and still expect great results. We combine this and other cuts of meat, such as pork belly and beef short rib, with “low and slow” cooking until fork-tender. The results always make a lasting impression on our customers.
  1. What is your most popular menu item?
    Everything. Ok, so if I have to pick something it would be all the pork entrees which are all fabulous…or maybe the Champagne Cashew Chicken…of course there’s the Homemade Buttermilk Brownie…and the Carmelita Bar….see…everything.

For more information about ISU Alumni Center approved caterers click here.

catering3  catering4catering1  catering5catering2

Forty Frequently Asked Questions about Wedding Venues

angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Knowing what questions to ask and what to expect is a key element in finding the perfect wedding venue. Before you make any final decisions, sit down with the venue’s manager and go over the following questions. The Alumni Center events staff has answered the questions below to give you a head start if you are interested in reserving the Center for your special day. Happy planning and hope to see you at our booth (south end of the Reiman Ballroom) at Bridal ExCYtement on Sunday, Feb. 8.

  1. Do I have to be a member to rent the venue? No, but there are discounted rental packages for ISU Alumni Association members. Click here to become a member.
  2. Do you have a professional wedding planner? Yes, there are three events staff professionals onsite.
  3. Who will be our point person prior to the day of our wedding? The three events staff professionals rotate weekends and one will be assigned 3-4 months prior to your wedding day.
  4. Who will be our point person on the day of our wedding? The events staff that you work with prior to your wedding day will be onsite day of along with additional events staff depending on your final headcount (generally 2-3 staff).
  5. Is my wedding date available? Contact one of our events staff at 515-294-4625 or request more information here and we will look at dates for you and set up a tour of the venue.
  6. How many guests can your venue accommodate? We can accommodate up to 250 ceremony guests depending on which space is requested. For wedding receptions we can accommodate up to 194 in the Reiman Ballroom, 300 guests in Reiman Ballroom and Mente/Boyd Reception Area, and up to 500 utilizing the entire building for a less formal reception. Contact the events staff for examples of diagrams and room setups.
  7. What is the rental fee, and what is included in that price? See the Alumni Center wedding packages here and everything included with these rates.
  8. Are there different rates for peak and off-season dates? Yes, there are peak wedding season rates from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  9. Is there a service charge on top of the bill? No, the wedding package price is the only charge (unless outside vendors are required per your request and arranged through your wedding planner). There is a 10% catering commission fee that your caterer will charge on the food and beverage bill.
  10. Are there any cleaning fees, overtime charges, insurance-fees? The Alumni Center reserves the right to charge a damage/cleaning fee if necessary after the wedding. There are no overtime charges; however, the guest and client must exit per the agreed upon time. Proof of liability insurance may be required. Security may also be required at the expense of the client.
  11. What kind of deposit is required? 50% of the package rate is due at time of signing the rental agreement. Acceptable forms of payment include credit card (VISA, Master Card, Discover, and American Express), check, or cash.
  12. What is the cancellation policy? Cancellations are accepted provided that notification is given in writing to the events staff. The following cancellation fees will apply:
    1. More than 9 months prior to the wedding date, cancellation fee will be 25% of the deposit
    2. Between 6 and 9 months prior to the wedding date, cancellation fee will be 50% of the deposit
    3. Fewer than 30 days prior to the wedding date, cancellation fee will be 100% of the deposit
  13. When is final payment due? 5 business days prior to your wedding day.
  14. What is the last possible date that we can make changes to diagrams and timeline? The day before your wedding day.
  15. What is the back-up plan for rain or inclement weather if using outdoor space? We can always move outdoor ceremonies indoors to the Mente/Boyd Reception Area or Reiman Ballroom. The events staff will work with you the day before your wedding to determine if an outdoor or indoor space will be set for the wedding.
  16. Can you provide a list of venue policies? Yes, click here for our general policies.
  17. How many weddings will be booked on my special day? Just your wedding!
  18. Is there an in-house caterer or do you allow outside caterers? All food and beverage must be contracted through an approved caterer. No food or beverage may be brought into the Alumni Center from any other source.
  19. Do you allow alcohol? Yes, from an approved caterer.
  20. Do you allow us to bring in our own alcohol? We do not allow outside alcohol. All alcohol has to come from an approved caterer.
  21. Are plates, silverware, and glassware provided? The Alumni Center does not provide these items. Contact individual caterers for more information about what items they provide.
  22. Is there a food and beverage minimum? This depends on the selected approved caterer. Contact individual caterers for more information about F&B minimums.
  23. Can I bring in a cake from a bakery? Cakes and mints may be brought into the Alumni Center from a licensed vendor in the state of Iowa if arrangements have been made in advance with the events staff. We do not provide cake-cutting, but some approved caterers can offer this service at a fee. We do not provide plates, forks, napkins, or serving utensils for cake and these items must be provided by you, your bakery, or approved caterer cutting the cake.
  24. Must I use vendors of your choosing? We require a caterer from our list of approved caterers. We also have a list of vendor partners for vendors other than caterers, but do not require you to select from this list. We ask that you provide us with names and contact information of the vendors you are working with so we may assist with making day of arrangements, especially for vendors whom have never been to our venue.
  25. Can we have a DJ or band and dancing? Yes, we ask that DJs and bands provide their own sound equipment and we provide the dance floor. We have multiple outlets in the entire building to accommodate DJ and band equipment.
  26. Are there restrictions for the photographer in terms of flash usage? If your photographer has not been in our building before, have them make an appointment with one of our events staff to tour the facility prior to the wedding.
  27. Who is responsible for setting up and tearing down décor and when? The Alumni Center events staff sets tables, chairs, linens, and other items included in the wedding package by 8 a.m. the day of wedding. Other décor is set by client or vendors starting at 8 a.m. the day of the wedding.
  28. How early can vendors get in to setup? 8 a.m. day of wedding.
  29. Can I move furniture around and decorate to suite my likes and dislikes? Yes, every wedding is custom and we work with you to create personalized diagrams and layouts for your wedding day.
  30. Are there decoration limitations and do you allow candles? All decorations and furniture arrangements must be approved and coordinated in advance with the events staff. Décor may not be affixed to the walls, ceilings, banisters, doors, or stairways. Nails, hooks, tacks, screws, and bolts may not be used on any surface at the Alumni Center. Glitter, sprinkles, confetti, petals, rice, birdseed, wheat or similar materials are not allowed. Fog machines are not allowed. Use of candles is restricted to enclosed flames at least one inch from the top of the container or floating in water. All décor must be removed and cleaned up at the end of the wedding.
  31. At what time will my guests and vendors have to leave the facility? Guests must exit by 12 a.m. Immediate family and close friends assisting with tear down and vendors must exit by 12:30 a.m.
  32. Do you provide assistance with getting gifts or décor to designated cars at the end of the event? Yes, the events staff working can assist with loading cars if needed.
  33. Is there a shuttle service available? The Alumni Center does not provide a shuttle service, but our events staff can work with you to find reliable service in the Ames area for your guests.
  34. What overnight accommodations do you provide? The Alumni Center does not have sleeping rooms, but there are several hotels and bed and breakfasts in Ames to accommodate guests.
  35. Are there adequate bathroom facilities? There are men’s and women’s restrooms located on each floor of the Alumni Center each with multiple stalls. There is also a family restroom located on the 2nd
  36. Is there coat check? No, but we have a coat room and two coat racks that can be used if needed.
  37. Is the site handicap accessible? There is elevator access to all three floors at the Alumni Center. There is one handicap parking spot on the west side of the building and one on the east side of the building.
  38. Is there ample parking? Will guests be charged for parking? Complimentary guest parking is located east of the Alumni Center.
  39. Do you have signage or other aids to direct guests to my wedding? Yes, at each entrance to the venue there is a sign holder with last name of the bride and groom along with the room name and floor level where the event is taking place.
  40. Do you like the people working at the venue? Come meet us to find out. The ISU Alumni Center events staff is experienced, professional, courteous, and LOVE what they do!

10 Tips for Attending Bridal ExCYtement

angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team.
This piece about Bridal ExCYtement was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit www.isualumnicenter.org.

Planning your wedding shouldn’t be a challenge. It should be a fun and exciting time that reminds you exactly why you are getting married in the first place. Attending Bridal ExCYtement is the first step you can take to help make this experience as painless as possible and help you save some time and money along the way. Here are some tips to help you with the day.

  1. Create a temporary email to use while planning your wedding. You can delete it later so you don’t have to worry about unsubscribing from vendor emails after your big day.
  2. Print adhesive labels ahead of time. Include your name, address, phone, and email to save you from writing the same thing over and over and over.
  3. Register ahead of time. The link to FREE online registration is: http://amestrib.com/bridalexcytement/registration
  4. Arrive early and check in. Each bride receives a bag full of freebies, and thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes will be given away during the show. Visit all of the vendors present and drop your card in the drawing for a grand prize.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Plan to stand and walk around for at least a couple of hours.
  6. Bring a SMALL purse or bag. Stock it with a calendar, notebook, and pen or your iPhone if you prefer. Don’t forget your checkbook and credit card in case you find a vendor you want to book on the spot.
  7. Only bring those who offer great advice and support. This could include your entire bridal party, close family members and friends, fiancé, or mother. Or bring them all! Just leave the children at home, please.
  8. Use your camera or phone to take photos or video. You will see an abundance of flowers, gowns, cakes, décor ideas, etc., and you will want to remember everything. What better way than a picture.
  9. Create a checklist of vendors and services you need. Research the vendors with exhibits prior to attending so you can determine which ones you need to visit.
  10. Actually talk to the vendors. Get as much information as you can from every vendor you are interested in using. This way you have something to reference at a later time when trying to make final decisions.

Relax, have fun, and get inspired!

bridalexcytement