Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fantastic planner resource

Let's face it ... sometimes you just need some help with the numbers. This website from JBS & Associates is a fantastic resource for those seeking help in coordinating a catered function.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Affordable Conference Space in Washington, DC

Sometimes hosting a meeting or conference at a hotel simply isn't an option. Whether you're seeking a space with a bit of flavor or working on a limited budget, we're fortunate that many organizations here in Greater Washington offer up their internal meeting space for rental. Enter ... the Conference Center.

The upside? The venue will be a unique and interesting space for your guests, usually offering affordable audio/video equipment and allowing outside food and beverage to be brought in.

The downside? These events are definitely a bit more DIY. Your guests will usually be passing through an active office building and for scheduling purposes, you'll be working around the internal client's own meeting schedule. And though the opportunity to bring in outside food and bev is affordable, someone on your staff will be responsible for keeping things picked up and the final clean up.

Some of our favorites metro-accessible DC conference spaces include:

1331 G Conference Center - 1331 G Street, NW (Metro Center and McPherson Square stations)

20 F Street NW Conference Center - 20 F Street, NW (Union Station metro)

CFED - 1200 G Street, NW (Metro Center station)

District Architecture Center - 421 7th Street, NW (Gallery Place/Chinatown station)

FHI360 Conference Center - 1825 Connecticut Ave, NW (Dupont Circle station)

The National Academy of Public Administration - 900 7th Street, NW (Gallery Place/Chinatown station)

Virginia Tech Research Center - 900 North Glebe Road, Arlington (Ballston station)

Waterview Conference Center - 1919 North Lynn Street, Arlington (Rosslyn station)

The Washington Post Conference Center - 1150 15th Street, NW (McPherson Square and Farragut North stations)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Table linens

We've been sorting through an endless number of websites lately, looking for affordable specialty linens and happened upon Not only did we receive quality cloths and exceptional customer service ... we found this incredibly useful (and fun) table cloth sizing app on their website.

We can't tell you how often we're asked (and we ask) about linen sizes. This is definitely a page to bookmark.

Start by choosing the type of table - round, square or rectangle. Next, choose the size of cloth you're considering. The sizing widget shows you just where the cloth will fall on your chosen table. Brilliant!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Site Visit - Hamilton Live

Venue:  Hamilton Live

Address:  600 14th St. NW, Washington, DC

Neighborhood:  White House

Venue Type:  Live Entertainment Venue/Restaurant

Best for:  Live Entertainment, presentations

Capacity:  250 seated (tiered table seating of 6 and 8's), 300 standing

Rental fees:  $$ to $$$ depending on the time of day. Daytime events ending by 2 p.m. - $5,000 with a $250 room rental; Afternoon/evening events beginning after 2 p.m. - $20,000 with a $1,000 room rental fee. A $200 tech fee covers AV.

Catering:  In-house only

Transportation:  Located in a very vibrant section of town, there are plenty of cabs and ample parking garages available nearby (though on the expensive side due to the venue's proximity to the White House); Metro accessible via Metro Center station (blue, orange and red lines), then a 3 block walk. Street parking will be hit or miss and metered.

Venue Website:

What we love:
  • The intimate feel - Hamilton Live is a private space located one level below the restaurant. The vibe is low-key, the lights are dim.
  • The in-house audio/video capabilities are top notch and exactly what you'd expect from a new live entertainment venue. The audio/video staff are also exceptionally attentive, knowledgeable and eager to please.
  • The pedigree. The restaurant and entertainment venue are part of the Clyde's Group and with that, you know that you will receive a certain standard of care.
Planner's Tips:
  •  There's no question that any live act will fit right in at Hamilton Live but we can't say the same for a business function. Sales presentations and off-beat presenters will surely fair well, but more formal presentations/speakers may require an alternative venue. It's difficult to ignore the late-night feel of the table set-up and bars.
  • There are two entrances into the venue. If entering off of 14th Street, guests will need to walk through the restaurant (admittedly, we're particularly adverse to this). Access from the F Street entrance is more direct.
  • We had some trouble keeping the kitchen staff quiet during our recent morning program. There is, after all, a 24-hour restaurant buzzing above. The AV staff was quick to assist and curtail the noise and we were thankful they were so readily available.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Site Visit - Arena Stage

Venue: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

Address: 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC

Neighborhood: Southwest Waterfront

Venue Type: Theater

Best for: Receptions, Performances, Seated Affairs

Capacity: At 200,000 square feet, Arena Stage is the second largest performing arts center in Washington, DC (The Kennedy Center is the first) and has several spaces, in addition to their three traditional theaters, to choose from depending on the size and needs of your group:
  • The Molly Smith Study is a private space on the main level perfect for receptions and dinners. The space is enclosed by 56' glass walls with beautiful Paralam wood columns. The Study can fit 275 standing or 150 seated for dinner.
  • Bank of America Lower Lobby. Either coupled with The Molly Smith Study to increase capacity or utilized on its own, this space can hold 175 standing or 100 seated. ** A caution here that the breezeway between the Bank of America Lobby and The Molly Smith Study is exceptionally small and cumbersome (one door in and out for all the guests!). If considering utilizing both spaces, we suggest hosting your pre- or post-reception in the Lobby and your Dinner in the Study.
  • The Grand Lobby. Located on the second floor of the facility, the Grand Lobby shares the magnificent glass walls with views of the waterfront and enjoys soaring ceilings. The Grand Lobby will accommodate 260-280 guests seated, 1,200 persons standing. Rental of the space includes use of a small landing/reception area just off the stairway to the third floor, overlooking the Lobby. The landing would serve as an excellent spot to address the crowd or for VIP access. 
  • The Terrace. Located off of the third floor, the covered Terrace offers stunning views of the waterfront. The space is complete with its own VIP staircase and entrance from Maine Avenue allowing guests to access private parties without having to go through the public lobby. 200 standing or 100 seated.
Rental Fees: $$$

Catering: Preferred catering list only includes Ridgewells, Design Cuisine, Fresh Catering and Salamander Hospitality. Info on each is available here

Transportation: One block away from the Waterfront Metro Station (green line). Arena Stage also offers parking in their own garage for $20; $11 off-site parking is available at 1101 Fourth Street by the Metro Station. Street parking is otherwise available along Maine Avenue and Water Street.

Venue Website:

What We Love:
  • Those who planned the renovation certainly had events on their minds when they constructed the new space. Opportunities abound with their multitude of available rooms while the scale of the floor to ceiling windows and the vaulted ceilings make all of the spaces, and your events, look and feel anything but ordinary.
  • The combination of old and new, from the restored Fichander Stage, a central structure within the facility, to the 35,000 square feet of glass that created the 'curtain wall' that surrounds the building. The venue truly makes this neighborhood sparkle.
Planner's Tips:
  • First and foremost, this is a working theater. All event rentals must work around the performance schedule. Do note that the theater is always dark on Mondays and, thus, readily available for use. 
  • The Theater's location in a residential neighborhood does result in some minor regulations that must be followed (including no live music played on the outdoor terrace).
  • The facility features a wall of windows with floor to ceiling exposures and no window coverings. The event staff is well-versed in what time of day/year events might be affected by the strong sunlight. Take head of their suggestions when setting up speaker presentations or AV with projection needs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Site Visit - The Terrace at 101 Constitution

Venue: The Terrace at 101 Constitution

Address: 101 Constitution Avenue, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC

Neighborhood: Union Station

Venue Type: Office Building 

Best for: Board Meetings, Small Receptions

Capacity: The venue has one conference room that will seat 12 people max. The indoor reception space will fit 50 guests and up to 75 if you utilize the outdoor patio. Seated affairs on the patio will allow for 6 rounds of 10.

Rental Fees: $$  The conference room for up to 12 people is $1,800. Starting price for 25 person receptions is $2,400; 50-75 person standing reception will run approximately $4,600; seated affairs to $5,000. The terrace is included with the price.

Catering: Approved catering list is available but they will consider outside vendors.

Transportation: 10 minute walk from Union Station (Red line). Paid parking is available in the garage. 3 minute cab ride from Union Station.

What We Love: Access to the terrace is included in the rental fee. On a sunny spring or summer day, you won’t be able to beat the view of the Capital building, lending an extra special touch to any gathering. Note that rental prices will increase for special occasions like the Fourth of July or Inaugural parties.

Planner's Tips:
  • The Terrace is only available for rental in the evening, so as to not disturb the surrounding offices. Availability is limited to Monday to Friday (no weekends), 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Set-up may begin as early at 4:30 p.m.  But … the venue just opened as of February 2012 so we do understand there is some potential flexibility with pricing and load-in timing for extensive set-ups.
  • The venue is located in a large office building and to that end, we suggest placing your registration table in the Lobby of 101 Constitution (or at least having a greeter present), ensuring your guest with maximum service and minimal confusion. Once guests have taken the private elevator to the ninth floor, the space is clearly marked.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Site Visit - Folger Shakespeare Theater

Venue: Folger Shakespeare Library

Address: 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Venue Type: Unique Venue

Best for: Receptions, Seated Dinners

To Note: The Folger Shakespeare Library is home to the world's largest Shakespearean collection.

Capacity: The Great Room (pictured) allows for 150 seated for dinner, 250 for a standing reception or 100 for dinner with space to accommodate a reception. The Paster Reading Room allows for 200 seated for dinner, 250 for a standing reception, or 100 for dinner with reception space. The two rooms will allow for 500 standing.

There is also a theater that will seat up to 260, and a smaller space, The Founders' Room, that will allow for an intimate dinner up to 30, or 50 for a standing reception (perfect for a smaller, VIP Reception).

Rental Fees: $$$ with the potential for a partial charitable deduction.

Catering: The venue has a preferred catering list but outside caterers may also be used (upon approval by the Special Events department).

Transportation: Parking in this area is always difficult. Just steps from the Capitol Building and bordering a residential neighborhood, valet is a must. The venue is metro accessible via the Capitol South station (blue and orange lines) but those dressed in their black-tie finest, or on days with awful weather, might find the 3 block walk a bit much. Cabs will be easier to find if guests walk a block to 1st Street, SE.

Venue Website:

What we love: The 'Shakespearean' feeling you get as enter The Great Room. Your guests will be instantly transported to a by-gone era by the Renaissance interior oak paneling, vaulted ceilings, carved wood and stain-glass windows.

Planner's Tips:
  • The Great Room is long and rectangular in shape, potentially making for difficult sight-lines should you need to host a stage program.
  • The Paster Reading Room is a world-renowned researcher center and is closed by day but for those with the appropriate credentials. Your guests will be thrilled that your event allows them access (sans Ph.D.). 
  • Ticketed events are not allowed. Similar to the Smithsonian venues, hosts may not sell tickets to their events, though the Folger Library does allow hosts to have their functions under-written by outside organizations. We suggest you talk through your plans in-depth, prior to going to contract.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Site Visit - Event Center at The Willard

Venue: Carr Workplaces' Event Center at The Willard

Address: The Willard Building, 1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC

Neighborhood: White House

Venue Type: Meeting Space, Outdoor Terrace

Best for: Small-group meetings, Receptions

Capacity: There are three available spaces at the Event Center including a lounge with outdoor terrace and two meeting rooms.

The Lounge will allow for cocktail receptions to 100.  The addition of the conference rooms will allow for 200 standing. The Terrace, for those perfect-DC evenings, offers reception space for up to 110 guests (with the Lounge serving as an inclement-weather back-up).

The International Room will seat 20 at a conference table, 39 theater style. The Ambassador Room, the smallest of the three spaces, will seat up to 10 at a conference table, 16 theater style for a presentation. These spaces can be combined for added capacity.

Rental Fees: $$. The meeting rooms are very affordable and rent by the hour, from $100-125 depending on the size needed. Daily rental of $500-600 per room.

The Lounge area and conference rooms may be rented as an all-day package deal for $3,000. The Lounge and Terrace may be rented for $5,000 for the evening.

Catering: Preferred list of caterers provided but outside caterers will be considered.

Transportation: There are several public parking garages in the area. Metro accessible via the McPherson Square station (blue and orange lines); then use the White House exit. Cabs will be readily available in this area too.

Venue Website:

What We Love: The Terrace. It was an absolute treat to find our way to the lounge and discover the patio and the view! The Event Center's terrace looks down 15th Street and on to the Washington Memorial.

Planner's Tips: 
  • Guests may be confused by the location of this venue. We heard 'The Willard' and immediately assumed we were headed into the hotel. Though there is access to the space through the hotel, it's a bit of a walk. Stress the Pennsylvania Avenue address to ward off any confusion.
  • Moreover, we also suggest the use of several greeters to help guests feel welcome and assist with directions into the office building.
  • Don't be off-put but this traditional 'meeting' space. The Terrace is an absolute gem of a find and your guests will be mesmerized by the monumental view and DC building facades.