by Chris Colloca, DC, PhD
Chief Wine Taster, Colloca Estate Winery
We threw a Father’s Day Clambake at the Winery last weekend. And, over 400 of our closest friends showed up to share their family’s celebration with us.
Clambakes are one of my favorite events – taking me back to great memories of gatherings with friends in my younger years going to bakes at Reagan’s Silver Lake and Nunzies outside of my home town of Oswego, NY. I don't know if you have ever thrown event for over 400 people but it takes whole lot of planning and even more execution to pull it off. Our people showed up and shined, and it reminded me of how grateful I am in having such a great team.
Once we got the word out about the event, pre-sale tickets came pouring in. Along with it, though came some interesting questions:
“Is it all you can eat?”
“Are you sure it’s all you can eat?”
“Are the clams, Mahogany clams?”
“Are you limiting the number of clams we can eat?”
With each request, our team members confirmed our policies – “Yes, they could eat all they wished, and no, we don’t serve Mahogany clams.” But, I had to chuckle to myself when these kinds of questions came in from customers with bad past experiences at clambakes – being served Mahogany clams that are much cheaper than Littlenecks, or being limited by a ticket of how many clams you can eat at a clambake.
You see, when we set out to embark on this vision of building a dream winery, I didn’t envision skimping on quality or quantity. It’s just not how we do things. And, the one thing that I’ve learned in business over the past 25 years is that there is no shortcut to success. We believed that if we served the best food at a reasonable price, we would be successful. We sold over 350 tickets online and had to shut off pre-sale tickets on the Friday before the event. Authenticity worked.
Our Chef and I meticulously planned the menu. He made clam chowder from scratch. We found the youngest and freshest new salt potatoes we could serve with buckets of butter. We used fresh local lettuce in the tossed salad. We sourced USDA Prime Beef Brisket and smoked it overnight for 14 hours before slicing it for our guests. Pork was slow roasted for pulled pork sandwiches on fresh brioche rolls. We cleaned and seasoned 300 lbs. of chicken before roasting them in our rotisserie. In all, we served over 1,000 lbs. of chicken, pork, and beef to our hungry foodie friends. In ordering the clams, we paid the higher cost to serve the best - Northern Atlantic and Nova Scotia Quahogs more commonly referred to as Littlenecks.All of this hard work had one goal in mind: we wanted only the best for our customers who cared enough to share their Father’s Day with us.
In the days leading up to the event our senior management team strategized a perfect plan to avoid lines by creating stations, and to assign our team to specific tasks, such as replenishing food and making sure everyone had all the clams that they wanted on demand. Several guests said that was one of the best clambakes they have ever attended. Others asked when the next event was. That was the reward.
Having done so many events in the past, I look back with great gratitude on the success of the clambake as evidenced by the positive feedback that we have enjoyed from those who attended. So many guests personally thanked us for the quality of the food and service and for enabling these kinds of events to take place in our community. I think that's why I'm sharing this today … to help tell our story. This is what Colloca Estate Winery is all about. It’s why we built this place.
It is our Why.
So, as I stood on Father's Day with my son in in our aprons as he helped me to put clams into the steamer, there was no place I’d rather have been. My wife and two other children were nearby helping our events team and I had a sense that our kids were taking it all in: The excitement of the event, the hustle and bustle of the pace, the energy and the vibe. It’s what we live for.
So, for me this was a perfect Father's Day. Seeing others enjoy our menu and our venue, our team executing the event seamlessly, no lines for the customers, and having my family around me – it was perfect.
Sure, it would be a lot less work to clip a microphone on to my lapel and give a lecture at one of my seminars and generate a lot more income in my chiropractic business. But that's not at all the point. We created this this beautiful venue out of passion and love. And, that’s the purpose of this message today – Helping get the message out so people understand that we do things differently.