Friday, November 20th, 2015
Design Speak: Q&A with Jeanne Whitworth of Butler’s Pantry
By Brittany Nay
Butler’s Pantry has expanded its family of event venues with a modern industrial space, Joule. This fall, the almost 50-year-old catering and event-planning company – which also recently restored two historic local venues, The Coronado Ballroom and Piper Palm House – unveiled Joule, a raw warehouse space for intimate wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as corporate and nonprofit events, next to its contemporary venue, Palladium Saint Louis, in Lafayette Square.
In addition to a newly redesigned event space, the second-generation business also recently announced the birth of Butler’s Pantry Design Studio, a team of skilled design professionals producing creative, stylish event design, from buffet layout and tabletop décor to florals and more.
LN spoke with Jeanne Whitworth, vice-president of sales and catering at Butler’s Pantry, to learn more.
Tell us about the history of the Joule space.
The building that houses Joule went into service as the original power plant for the old City Hospital in 1937 [hence the energy-unit name, Joule]. The actual space was called Machine Hall, as it housed large industrial machinery that would operate to supply and generate power for this massive, multi-blocked hospital.
Why did Butler’s Pantry acquire the building?
It was the chance to offer another exceptional setting in our expanding exclusive-venue portfolio. We had clients asking for raw, industrial warehouse spaces, so we jumped at the chance to provide them with one.
How would you describe the new look of the venue?
The two-story, 4,200-square-foot, modern industrial space can host about 300 guests. You can feel the energy in this space – the original operating crane remains, suspended from the existing truss work; exposed brick surrounds massive 19-foot windows that span the entire length of the room; and an aged-iron feature wall makes the space truly unique.
Tell us about the unique design elements incorporated into the space.
The $400,000 renovation included creating a curved wall at the south end of the space to provide a natural focal point, ceremony backdrop or logical entertainment setup. A theater-style curtain spans the east wall of interior windows, so clients can choose to see into the indoor rock-climbing gym next door or create event privacy. The original crane remains, creating distinctive architectural interest. We didn’t want to over-design this space, so the originality and integrity of the space could shine through.
Did you include any new technology?
We installed state-of-the-art LED lighting in the space – clients can customize a color to perfectly fit their event design. On the west wall, blackout shades were added for climate control and to allow all clients, regardless of the event time frame, the ability to use projection and lighting effectively.
What sets this venue apart?
This venue exists in a communal setting – the former power plant is home to Climb So iLL and Element, as well as Joule. The perk is clients can choose how and if their event interacts with these other entities. Part of the Joule renovation also included a courtyard build-out, perfect for cocktail hour, a cigar lounge or a visual link between Joule and Palladium Saint Louis – as the two spaces can be used together.
How is the venue being received?
Fantastic! It is definitely filling a void in the St. Louis venue market. People are starting to think differently in event hosting/producing, and the concept behind Joule is innovative and different – people like getting behind something like that.
Describe the events held there so far and what you expect to book in the future.
So far, a corporate event, wedding ceremony and a wedding cocktail hour held in combination with the reception at Palladium Saint Louis. A nonprofit board dinner and a few corporate holiday parties are booked for December. We have held stand-alone events, as well as events with Climb So iLL and Palladium Saint Louis. We plan to book these types of events, as well as smaller weddings, in the future.
Original article can be found here.