The summer party season is in full swing! This time of year brings about so many special occasions to gather and celebrate: weddings, graduations, beach parties, and even extraordinary wine tastings. It's hot out, you're working hard, and you deserve a toast!
Our amazing Director of Special Events and Catering, Sami Fromer, knows the ins and outs of all the work it takes to pull off a flawless event - she's been producing events in Los Angeles for over ten years! We sat down with Sami to chat about her background in the events and entertainment worlds, her party planning essential tips, seasonal trends, and the breakdown of how our #WallysEvents private dining and catering departments work. Learn more about how Wally's can make your next affair unforgettable below!
Q: You've been with Wally's for 5 years now, how did you get your start in events? What drew you to it?
A: "My love for events began back when I was in college – I actually started out as a business management major until I was introduced to Sex and the City… and I became completely inspired by Samantha's job in PR and events. I remember researching “PR” because I didn’t know what that meant and reading up about the industry until I finally switched my major! Then after school, I worked at a bunch of different places within the worlds of public relations, event planning, and entertainment. In between jobs, I would work in restaurants so that I could travel. When the opportunity to work at Wally’s came along it was the perfect blend of atmospheres for me, and the rest is history!"
Walk us through the planning process - do clients usually come to you with a specific vision in mind, or is it oftentimes a collaboration?
"Half of the time it’s the customer’s vision, and the other half, the customer needs direction. The process is simple: they’ll reach out to me and we’ll chat about their event: what type, how many people will be attending, what special touches I can offer them to make this affair memorable. It’s so fun to work with people. My favorite thing is being hands-on with the planning, like with design, flowers, balloons, silverware color….the details are the best part. I feel like it's my creative outlet. I’m always suggesting to guests, “put up a photo booth!" or "put an arrangement of balloons," or things like that to dress up a space. At our locations at Wally's Beverly Hills and Wally's Santa Monica, you can really use our private spaces as a palate and dress it up how you want to - and I'm here to help!"
From tastings, to bridal showers, to corporate events, and birthdays, which would you say is your favorite type of party to throw?
"Birthdays are so fun for me because everyone comes ready to celebrate and have a good time. I also really love doing our wine pairing dinners. Honestly, my favorite party to throw include people who are excited to plan and celebrate a milestone because it gets my creative juices flowing! We get a lot of referrals that way, messages saying, “my friend had a birthday there and it looked so cool, I want to do my party there!”
What is your favorite appetizer off of Wally’s Catering menu? What food options would you recommend for say – a graduation party?
"My favorite appetizer – it is so hard to choose! Some of my favorites are our tuna tartare, Tokyo-style beef skewers, and truffle deviled eggs - they are delicious! You also can’t go wrong with Calvisius Caviar. Whenever I plan events that want to include a caviar station with all of the fixings, it’s always a huge hit!
For a graduation party, I would definitely recommend our platters – you can order platters of food from us that include either assorted gourmet sandwiches, farmer's market crudité, or assorted cheese and charcuterie boards. The platters can feed a large party and come with a wide selection of options so everyone’s happy!"
What’s more important at a good event: music or a good bartender? What do you look for in choosing the perfect entertainment for a party?
"Music is always important, but so is a good bartender. Once people have a drink or two, it certainly elevates their mood - and great music enhances it!
In choosing entertainment for a party, I would say what’s most important is to think outside the box! There are so many different possibilities when it comes to entertainment, all which we host, organize, or offer at Wally’s. One of my favorites is a classic photo booth, but we’ve organized everything from hiring a keyboardist/musicians to burlesque dancers to bringing out a giant parmesan wheel and cooking fresh pasta right out of it!
I love when I get to collaborate with our chef and the kitchen on food displays and experiences, like designing seafood towers, serving caviar in a custom ice-sculpture, a gourmet cheese cart, a master Jamon Iberico carver, or our custom bloody mary cart. We really love adding unique touches to a party. If you have an idea, I'd love to hear it and see what I can do to make it happen."
What are some hot décor trends you’re seeing this season? What are you drawn to?
"A big trend I’m seeing right now that I’m a fan of is the use of bright white lights, clean simple geometric details, and gold accents. Also, embellishing with flowers and plants. I’m very drawn to florals, they’re at the top of my list for inspiration for party décor. I love how they can guide the color scheme. I’m really attracted to violet, peach, pinks, yellows, blush summery tones that brighten and warm up a space, as well as green plants and succulents that serve as accents and centerpieces. I also look to local florists and event planners often for inspiration – I love seeing what my peers are up to!"
Tell us a little bit about the difference in space options at Wally's - (there are a few!) What would you suggest to party sizes who are looking to host an intimate 8-person dinner vs. a big 40-person birthday party?
"It depends on the needs of the event. For Beverly Hills, I would suggest our semi-private Barrel Room located next to our wine vault for small groups. If an event needed complete privacy, I would suggest the Private Dining Room in the back, which can fit mid-sized groups and is great for multi-course dinners and wine pairings. In Santa Monica, I would suggest the fully private upstairs Green Room for very large parties, as it has its own private elevator entrance, full bar, and is fully customizable in table arrangement & decor.
It does depend though: some people prefer to be in the center of the scene with the rest of the restaurant, and if that's the case, I would secure for you one or more of our high-top tables in the back dining room of our restaurant. We really have a lot of options, and I always walk guests through all of them beforehand to ensure that we pick the perfect spot for their event's needs!" For more information about all of our private dining space options, click here.
What has been one of the most memorable events you’ve thrown to-date?
"One that really sticks out was a Domaine Romanee-Conti themed birthday party. Every guest had to bring a bottle to get admitted to the event. It was at the host’s home so it was fully catered by Wally’s. There were balloons in the front of the house coming down and floral arrangements. I worked closely with the host’s event planner to pick everything out. We set up so many different food stations, and it’s the most epic wine in the world... so it was quite a memorable party!
Another special event was a recent cookbook launch party. Our chef re-made a few of the author’s selected dishes for the guests and I got to do a lot of event design which I really loved: there were white roses and white walls and gorgeous food. Everything was so clean and sharp, really lovely. We did it at an art gallery in DTLA with some truly incredible live musicians. It was a completely empty space when we showed up and it was completely a blank palate that we were able to transform. It was a wild evening because we were cooking out in the back alley and the power kept going out, but we pulled it off!"
For general event inquiries or to receive a personalized consultation, contact Sami Fromer and the Wally's Events Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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