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MSP: Event Venue & Catering

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Enso May 21, 2009 05:39 AM

This is my first big event to plan/sponsor. It's fun, but also a bit nervous-making. I thought this would be a great place to get some well-considered input. (If you know another source of good info, please let me know about that, too!) TIA...

I'm organizing a workshop and researching places to hold it. It'll be an all-day event for about 200 people and need AV facilities, so I doubt restaurants will suffice. In addition to the technical requirements, I'll need to arrange a continental breakfast and buffet lunch.

Top consideration is price; I need to keep it low. So, we can skip the luxe offerings, but neither do I want rock-bottom cheapo blech (that's so subjective, I know!). I'd like to avoid Mpls, as it's my understanding that within city limits there's an additional 3% on top of the already ridiculous taxes and surcharges.

Given my preferences, what do you think is a reasonable per person $ amount (room rental, food, and inclusive of all taxes and fees)?

Do you know of any non-hotel options?

Any personal recommendations, hotel or non? Any hearsay suggestions?

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  1. s
    sarah.j.morrison May 21, 2009 06:40 AM

    where do you want to be? the Lake Waconia Event Center just reopened. It's about 20 minutes west of Eden Prairie, right on the lake. www.lakewaconiaeventcenter.com

    1. The Dairy Queen May 21, 2009 07:57 AM

      Apologies to snowboardbabe for STILL not making it over there, but Enso, you might consider Kozak's, which sounds like it might be a good fit for you based on this report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5700...

      Good luck!

      ~TDQ

      1 Reply
      1. re: The Dairy Queen
        s
        snoboardbabe77 May 21, 2009 09:46 AM

        TDQ-you crack me up....if you happen to be over there, then yes....but it's more supper clubbish food (your standard quality at reasonable prices) (and they have a friday date night special but never taken advantage of it).

        www.kozlaks.com

        They have the space to accommodate that many but the space might be odd depending on how you want to use your A/V stuff. I know they have a projection screen, microphones, etc. but I want to say that we had to bring in our own projector/computer for a slide show.

      2. e
        Enso May 21, 2009 03:58 PM

        Both those look like very nice venues!

        I do think they are too far out, and price-wise I'm seeking "nice" instead of "very nice". It might help to know that this is not a corporate event, but a one-day training workshop for busy, dedicated, and underpaid service professionals. I'm stuck with keeping the registration fee in-line with going rates and won't break even with too high a percentage going towards food.

        Keep the ideas coming! These suggestions gave me the idea to use google maps to search on 'event centers', and I think some churches have meetings spaces that might be in my budget.

        1. jillbcooks May 21, 2009 06:01 PM

          The Minnesota Humanities Center has facilities. http://minnesotahumanities.org/confer...

          Also, try libraries, museums and community arts centers (like the one in Hopkins). Can usually be had for pretty cheap.

          1. m
            midwaygirl May 21, 2009 07:19 PM

            Check out Neighborhood House/Wellstone Center in St. Paul. They have really nice meeting rooms for cheap, and the rental fees go to support a great nonprofit organization. There isn't on-site catering, but you can bring in any food you want. I'm sure they would have good suggestions for affordable catering nearby, since I'm sure most of their clients are nonprofits with limited funds.

            1 Reply
            1. re: midwaygirl
              AnneInMpls May 21, 2009 09:26 PM

              What a great idea! Plus, the Neighborhood House/Wellstone Center is across the street from El Burrito Mercado, so the catering possibilities are GREAT if you want Mexican food! And, on weekends, the roasted corn stand is usually up and running in El Burrito's parking lot...

              http://www.neighb.org/rent_rates_space.aspx

              Me, I was going to suggest Black Bear Crossings on Como Lake, but they say that the largest room is for 120 people max, plus parking is an issue, and my husband tells me the rates have gotten really expensive. But it might be worth checking out just in case - the Como Park location is great.

              http://blackbearcrossings.com/docs/ca...

              Anne

            2. ibew292 May 22, 2009 04:47 AM

              http://www.cce.umn.edu/conferencecent... I don't think you will find a better place for the price. Food is OK but there are benefits that you won't find at othe places. For arounf $40 / person you can have a room plus food for a day.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ibew292
                e
                Enso May 23, 2009 05:33 AM

                $40/person is not a deal based on my research so far, and it is too high for my budget.

                Will double-check on the BBC. [Update: Lots of "additional" fees; would nickel & dime the event into unprofitability. More suitable for corporate and wedding-type occasions.]

                Never heard of the NH/WC - will check it out. [Update: had high hopes, but only room large enough is an auditorium, and I need "classroom seating".]

                Comm. Ctrs are on my list.

                Libraries don't offer enough lead time to make the reservation; for example, Henn Cty/Mpls library system will only take reservations for the upcoming quarter.

                Does anyone know of museums with a large enough room, AV equipment, and reasonable catering? (I would guess they don't let one bring in whatever caterer one wants.)

                Haven't heard of MHC before either; adding them to my list. [Update: too small and way too expensive - about $65 per person]

                In the interests of making this thread a future resource for others, St Mary's Greek Orthodox church in Mpls has some nice event space. I'm checking on prices. Anyone know of other churches or faith-associated buildings offering this sort of thing?

                Another potential venue is the Carondelet Center in st paul, I have to check on the food side.

                My ideal arrangement would involve being able to bring in my own caterer. This gives me the most flexibility, and the opportunity to offer registration to a few people in exchange for volunteering (which would be much cheaper than a 20% service charge that most in-house catering tacks on). But practically, price per person and perceived value trumps other preferences.

                Great ideas, all--keep 'em coming if you've got 'em!

                Happy Memorial Weekend!

                1. re: Enso
                  Jordan May 23, 2009 06:18 AM

                  I'm thinking that your price point does not match your ambitions for this event. One or the other will have to change.

                  1. re: Jordan
                    e
                    Enso May 23, 2009 01:40 PM

                    Maybe, but I like my theory better: you're not understanding my ambitions well enough and the trade-offs I've prioritized. Perhaps I haven't been clear enough for you to be on the same wavelength.

                    1. re: Enso
                      Jordan May 23, 2009 02:16 PM

                      Well, you've said you want "nice" and not "rock-bottom cheapo", but you've also said that $40/person is too high for your budget and you'd like a place that will let you bring in your own caterer. You want a place for the entire day for 200 people with AV facilities (I assume this means you want them to provide a projector and screen). You have been coy about your actual budget, so you're making us guess. $40 * 200 = $8000. That's too high. You want something for, what, $6000? $4000? $2000? Pick a number.

                      For this amount, you're looking for a full-day rental of a fairly large room, rental of a projector and screen, catering, service, and clean-up. Is catering for lunch only, or are you planning to provide breakfast and/or a snack?

                      Assuming your budget is around $4000, I think you might be able to pull off something like a suburban VFW Hall for a full-day rental, AV rental, lunch and beverages. I think it's going to be hard to do much more or much nicer with that budget.

              2. k
                karykat May 23, 2009 08:27 AM

                Is Eagan too far out? I arranged an event at the Eagan Community Center. They have a few different rooms. I used one that had a view of a little pond. I didn't think the room rental was too high but I was renting only for a few hours.

                They require you to use one of several vendors for food. I was pinching pennies too so I used Green Mill for some appetizers, They might be a possibility for somewhat reasonable food.

                Here's a link for the center:

                http://www.cityofeagan.com/live/page....

                1 Reply
                1. re: karykat
                  e
                  Enso May 23, 2009 01:41 PM

                  I'll check it out...

                2. chompchomp May 28, 2009 12:27 PM

                  If you're willing to travel to Young America, their pavilion is about as cheap as they come -- $175/day for a non-wedding event.

                  http://www.cityofnya.com/index.asp?Ty...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chompchomp
                    e
                    Enso May 30, 2009 04:58 AM

                    Nice spot. Too bad it's too far away.

                    1. re: Enso
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                      sarah.j.morrison May 30, 2009 06:42 PM

                      i've worked with this company before. they are really nice and accomodating.
                      http://www.lancercatering.com/

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