Business Focus: Magnolia Lake


Front-SignWhether you are a four year-old wanting to meet a princess while you eat cupcakes and sip lemonade, or you are 94 celebrating a life lived spectacularly, Magnolia Lake can assist you in making memories for a lifetime. If you want to simply rent the facility with tables and chairs (which includes set-up and clean-up), or you desire a package which includes decorations, catering, and more, this facility will create an experience beyond your expectations.

In May of 2002, Kay Deahl closed on this elegant property. By August, she was renting out the Lake House for events; other venues were available by December. Current owner Ruby Rushing and her husband built The Pavilion after they took over ownership from Kay, who wanted to spend more time with her children. When speaking of the staff, Ruby and Shelly Rush, General Manager and Sales Event Coordinator, had nothing but good things to say.

Rebecca Birdwell, Office Assistant (left) and Shelly Bush, General Manager and Sales Event Coordinator

Rebecca Birdwell, Office Assistant (left) and Shelly Bush, General Manager and Sales Event Coordinator

“Everybody is on the same page when it comes to working an event. No one complains, ‘It’s not my job.’ We have really good people, and everyone knows what needs to be done.” Ruby has even been caught washing dishes more than a time or two. Office Assistant Rebecca Birdwell isn’t confined to her desk; she helps out with events from beginning to end. Marcos Almanza keeps all 11 acres of the grounds looking splendid.

Although the Princess Parties usually garner groups of little girls from four to ten years old, recently an 80 year-old client wanted to celebrate her birthday as a princess. Princess-group-on-pavillionWhen a mom orders this package, Magnolia Lake sends out custom-made invitations. When the guests arrive, they pick out beautiful dresses which transform the young ladies into princesses. During the two-hour time slot, the “royalty” enjoys spending time with a “real-live” princess, putting on a modeling show from princess dresses provided for the young ladies, party games, party favors, and (of course) a chorus of Happy Birthday. Princess-girl-drinking-teaSince “word has gotten out” about the Princess Parties, the guest’s list often includes young ladies who have attended their friends’ royal celebrations. Thus, the staff works hard to make sure each party is unique and memorable.

Table settingTowards this end, the staff devotes time educating themselves on new and growing trends. “We spend time browsing around on Pinterest. Someone may come into the office and think we are on the computer doing nothing but looking at pretty stuff,” Shelly laughingly shared, “but it is actually work.” One time when Shelly was decorating, she told Ruby, “I don’t feel like I’m working, because this is so much fun.” The staff attends bridal shows before their Open House in order to stay aware of new fashions and styles. “It is like Pinterest in 3D,” Shelly mentioned.

Magnolia Lake hosts an Open House annually. During this free event, party stations are set up at each of the six varying locations on site. Vendors are also available to showcase their wares. The Open House shows the public this beautiful location is not “just for weddings”. “We’ve hosted graduation and retirement parties. Academy held a training seminar here last summer. Candidates running for local office have held Meet-N-Greets at the facility. A local car dealership holds its annual Christmas party with us every year,” said Shelly.

Outdoor eatingMagnolia Lake offers six diversified locations to their guests depending on the size of the party. The Ice House is a rustic, open-barn type area often used for small events ranging from crawfish boils and fish-frys to small weddings. Guests often also rent this particular location in conjunction with the Texan and the Lake House to accommodate an overflow crowd or for its fenced-in area where children can run and play, offering their parents peace of mind that the youngsters aren’t frolicking near the lake. The Texan houses up to 30 people and is the location for most of the Princess Parties. Caterers often utilize this space in combination with the Lake House, so they have the space to set up while remaining separate from the event.

Bridal and Bridesmaid PortraitThe Lake House encompasses the bridal suite and the offices, which are open Monday through Friday from eight to five. This location easily and comfortably facilitates up to 50 guests. Bridal showers, baby showers, graduation parties, and other smaller events reserve this building overlooking the lake. There is a lighted fountain on the water, which the coordinators often customize for the occasion, i.e. orange and blue lights for a SHSU event, or lights which match a bride’s colors.

Next, large weddings, family reunions, proms, or other large gatherings choose The Ballroom. This venue can accommodate up to 350 guests. If the client chooses to have a cookie bar, candy bar, photo booth, chocolate fountain, etc., and they have many guests, the coordinators make sure to utilize every inch of space. dining-red-tablesThey can set up the cuisine for the guests to enjoy, then break down the area so that the space can be utilized for dancing and other guest activities. Magnolia Lake has also equipped The Ballroom with Wi-Fi access, speakers, and a projector. Shelly also supplies the clients with her cell number, so she is available to assist in any way possible.

The staff pays attention to all of the details. In The Ballroom, small, unobtrusive trash cans tend to fill quickly, but a staff member will be there to quickly remove refuse and be readily available to meet the needs of party-goers. On the third Thursday of each month, a ballroom dance group utilizes this venue, often times bringing a live band as they waltz through the evening. If guests need to step outside for fresh air or simply want to gaze at the lake, the Veranda provides an area in which to gather. PavilionThe Pavilion and The Rock Garden are outside and can serve as their own venues or in conjunction with the aforementioned spaces. If a DJ needs to set up in these areas, electricity is available so customers can dance the night away.

Magnolia Lake believes it is important, when possible, to use local vendors. They choose local eatery Farmhouse Café to cater many events, yet they are happy to work with vendors chosen by the clients. Bandera Grill, Benny J’s, Daisy’s Diner and others have also catered events with Magnolia Lake. This professional staff works with their clients to set up floor plans, and will work with vendors in order to make sure all their needs are met, such as access to outlets and more. This relieves the client from having to make multiple trips to the location to meet vendors. The staff or coordinators make themselves available after hours, knowing not all clients can reach the location during main office hours. Since the majority of people choose Saturdays to hold their events, booking for Sunday through Friday lessens the fee for clients.

couple-in-front-of-lakeMagnolia Lake truly caters to their clients’ needs and visions. They take care of all the details, big and small. Since they have created many centerpieces and other decorations, they have access to a number of props, colors, banners, etc. If a patron asks questions and offers suggestions, the coordinators begin their creative juices flowing and awe the partygoers with their designs. “Even though we have a quote printed out for a bride or party package, we can customize the package so we have exactly what they are looking for. People are often surprised that we are affordable,” Shelly said when questioned about the varying packages. Ruby added, “A lot of people don’t realize that we do the set-up; we put the linens on the table; we do the clean-up.”

Outdoor family gatheringAlthough Magnolia Lake lies minutes from downtown Huntsville, the secluded setting allows customers to separate themselves and enjoy beautiful celebrations. However, many area residents have not realized this gem glistening from their own “backyard.” One step Magnolia Lake has taken to eliminate their anonymity is attending “Business After Hours,” a gathering the chamber of commerce puts on once a month so businesses can share ideas, network, meet new people, etc. They also are regularly present at the Huntsville Trade Expo. “We try to stay out there with the public so they know we are here,” Shelly stated.

With the holiday season approaching, Magnolia Lake desires to serve the community and relieve some of the stress of “entertaining” during this festive, yet busy time. “Catering, decorating, planning menus, choosing times, selecting venues, and cleaning up afterwards—we can do it all, and let you take the credit for it,” Shelly noted. Whether one is hosting holiday corporate festivities, Christmas celebrations, retirement parties, or December graduations; whether the crowd is an intimate gathering of ten close friends or 300 fellow employees, the staff at Magnolia Lake stands prepared to assists clients in any way possible.

Wedding-Portrait-Next-to-LakeAt the end of each event, the staff sends out a survey. Customers have an opportunity to offer suggestions. “If an idea is going to improve their visit here or improve the venue itself, we definitely take those into consideration. When we know a client has booked with us, has met with us since day one, it is our responsibility to see it through until the end. You may not finish at 5:00 o’clock on a Friday; you may not finish at 5:00 o’clock on a Saturday. This is our passion. As a whole, everyone works together to make sure whatever is sold is actually what the clients are receiving. Come out and experience what we have to offer. Our attention to detail makes our service stand out. The clients and their guests feel they are being pampered.”

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