Lace Lives on through The Lace Factory Events!
By Gina King/Photos Courtesy The Lace Factory Events
Andrea Isaacs has been satisfying stomachs and putting smiles on faces for over 20 years with her business Cloud Nine Catering in Old Saybrook. Described as local farm food made with love, it’s just good simple food that keeps customers coming back for more. And more has morphed into Andrea’s next step in catering: events at her venue The Lace Factory Events in Deep River.
The massive structure located at the end of River Street has been reincarnated over the past century. It started out as a shipyard with the Connecticut River at its front door and then turned into a docking facility for ivory deliveries. Sometime in the 1940’s it became a huge lace production factory called J.A. Smith Manufacturing Co. that housed looms and machines for making lace, finally closing its doors in 1990 due to a decreased number of skilled workers who not could effectively operate the 16-ton machines.
After looking around at many other possible locations Andrea set her sights on the historic building for a number of reasons, “We could live here in the building, walk to town, it was near the river, the Essex Steam train, and because of the charm of the building,” says Andrea. But also she felt keeping the name Lace Factory would be a good reference to weddings and make that connection for her business; another form of recycle and reuse.
She and her husband purchased the building in 2004 and went to work designing it to their catering event needs, renovating some of the space, and mindfully keeping some of the original design and artifacts from the historic time period. One of the antique pieces guests can incorporate into their wedding event is a beautiful directory mirror that hangs in the foyer that is used to showcase event photos and memorabilia, and a majestic wooden old fashioned high back bench. A commercial sized kitchen was added in one of the factory office spaces to accommodate for any venues catering needs. Even the bathrooms got a facelift but keep an antique charm such as the steel faucet design in the ladies bathroom that runs the length of the sink and really adds character. And the old fashioned sink in the men’s bathroom mixed with modern conveniences adds appealing character. The walk through the foyer with painted brick walls and timepieces hung on the wall is a buildup into the main wedding space. The wow factor hits you when you walk into what use to be the main lace factory area for the looms and is now a 5,500 square foot wedding and party extravaganza with gigantic almost floor-to-ceiling windows, a massive wooden bar in one corner, hard wood floors, and picturesque views out to the courtyard and landscaped greenery. Thousands of twinkle lights adjourn the ceiling and create a dynamic atmosphere reminiscent of stars lighting a night sky. Since the grand opening of The Lace Factory Events in 2010 the business has grown. On her way to hosting 70 weddings this year Andrea and her team are busy and already starting to book for 2017.
“We knew it could work,” says Andrea about the added transition to the venue for catering wedding events. “I love meeting with the families and seeing an event from beginning to fruition, it’s fun.” Lace Factory Events is really one stop shopping for weddings, offering a full array of services from the food (13 pages to choose from), planning, venue, customized cakes, flowers, music, photography and even a bridal suite on the second floor with a bathroom and space for the whole bridal party to get ready. With plenty of room to accommodate 225 guests Andrea finds that the venue space is appealing to a lot of out of towners looking for that ideal wedding spot. “It’s a unique venue and offers a central location, two hours from New York and Boston and near the shoreline,” says Andrea. The outdoor courtyard is also a big draw for added ambience and can be used all year long. Traces of the history of the building are reflected around the property such as the huge metal anchor propped against the tree, reminiscent to the connection to the Connecticut River and stones and rocks etched into the landscaping are quintessential New England nature. And for those families and guests coming from out of state there are an array of places to stay overnight or for the weekend close by in town as well as nearby in Old Saybrook and other surrounding areas.
Andrea plans to add another venue area-The Riverview Room on the first floor of the building for smaller events and parties. This space will be ideal for 50 to 60 people and include a large dining area, kitchen, bathroom, two outside decks, and sitting room. She is hoping to offer The Riverview Room as another event alternative for meetings, family parties, corporate events, and showers this March.
Just like its long standing history The Lace Factory just blends right into the scenery that surrounds including the Deep River Freight Station railroad depot stop across the street and the Deep River Landing at the Connecticut River shore. Guests can make a scenic ride on the Essex Steam Train part of the party experience or board the Becky Thatcher riverboat and breathe in the Connecticut River Valley landscape. Wedding photos can also be taken down at the river landing or at the gazebo, with The Lace Factory a short walk across the street or for those wearing heels can hop a ride on the chauffeured golf cart that is provided.
The looms are long gone but the name lives on as the start of a new life is celebrated through the many joyful events that take place here at The Lace Factory. “It’s exceeded my expectations,” says Andrea. “I am very happy.”