The weather outside was frightful
But the AC inside The Regent was delightful
So there was only one place to go:
Riverview, Riverview, Riverview.
As afternoon temperatures soared into eyeball-sweating levels, the white draperies and Christmas lighting harkened to a different time July 18 at The Regent in Riverview.
While the rest of South County was baking, the hundreds who turned out at The Regent had the calendar pushed forward to December, giving vendors a chance to serve up some tasty samples while also donating toys to children. Every attendee dropped off a toy for the Toys for Tots program as their price of admission.
“It’s really beautiful. It puts a lot of fun into it and that’s right down our alley, we’re all about fun,” said Beverly Walker of Pinot’s Palette in Brandon, one of the preferred Regent vendors at the event. “We’re here looking for
brides planning a wedding, maybe a bachelorette party. We also do a lot of corporate business, team building, that kind of thing, so we’re always looking for companies that want to do something for their employees or their customers.”
The company will bring the painting activity to events or companies, with an artist on hand to encourage others to join in creating artwork. The company also hosts artists who teach painting while sipping wine in a social atmosphere.
“We have fun music and hire professional artists who take you through a step-by-step process to create a masterpiece,” Walker said. “We like to say that we help people discover their inner van Gogh.”
“We have a list of preferred vendors who work with us throughout the year,” said Julie Juteau, the director at The Regent for the last 18 months. “They keep giving us and helping our clients and this is the event to showcase our venue and give back to our preferred vendors.”
Juteau came up with the idea after seeing charities host similar events. “They collect toys for the Toys for Tots program also, so we thought why not do a Christmas in July, collect Toys for Tots in advance and give back to people who are here and in our community at the same time.”
Dogged by bad publicity when it first opened, The Regent has bounced back under Juteau’s leadership with bookings — the 30,000-square-foot facility hosts everything from weddings to classes — up 50 percent in the last year, according to the director.
The reason for the turnaround?
“We are here, we are present, we are networking a lot, and I think that we are easily approachable, plus I think we are more flexible with people now,” Juteau said. “Before, they had, let’s say, three hours [to prepare] before an event and now if we’re here at 10 a.m. they can come six hours before the event and set up. So we’re trying to be much more accommodating to everybody.”
Leslie Faulhaver, an office manager with Affordable Catering, traveled from Tampa for the event.
She said, “We love working with The Regent, they are one of our preferred halls that we work with a lot. It’s a beautiful facility, and we just wanted to be a part of it and join in with all the other caterers.”
As for the Christmas motif, “I love it,” said Faulhaver. “I think Christmas is great any time of year.”