BUSINESS

Blue Heron offers catering and a place to gather

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Betty Elway and Denise Hutchison at a display that will be used for a food tasting. The Blue Heron facility has a few new features, including chandeliers, curtains and a comfortable lobby. The yard is also available for outdoor events.

Years of experience paved the way for Denise Hutchison to start a new business in Greencastle. Blue Heron Events opened at 407 S. Washington St. in July. She signed a lease with the Rescue Hose Company for what used to be the Special Events Center, but she hopes that name fades from everyone’s memory quickly.

Blue Heron rents out the 5,400 square foot space to others for a variety of events, and offers catering services for meals on- or off-site. Clients may also rent the kitchen and provide their own food.

Serving a need

Hutchison gained 12 years of expertise while an event planner for a national youth conference organization when she and her husband Paul lived in Indiana. The Hagerstown, Md. natives also operated a deli in Hagerstown at one time.

Hutchison and their daughter Jessica Paris started From Scratch Catering & Event Planning several years ago. The business took a back seat to family matters, when Hutchison and her husband became caretakers for her sister Charleen, who had ALS. Charleen died two years ago, but Hutchison said, “She had a good life.”

Mother and daughter kicked up their business due to requests from World Kitchen for food at factory events.

“We needed a kitchen,” said Hutchison.

They rented space from the Rescue Hose Company, but it was expensive for a few hours of time. So when the opportunity to lease came along, at a RHC offer, it was providential.

Finding a solution

Tim Myers, RHC trustee, said the change in plans benefited both sides. The Special Events Center had long been the site for fire company fundraising activities. However, the most steady event, bingo, had not been held for two years due to falling participation and lack of volunteers.

“We were our own biggest renter,” said Myers.

Even renting out the facility occasionally didn’t pay the bills. A permanent tenant was needed and Myers saw Blue Heron as the perfect fit.

People celebrating special occasions could find everything in one company, rather than searching separately for a venue, caterer, florist and so on.

“Blue Heron can handle everything,” he said. “We hope it’s a long-term lease for us.”

What’s on the plate?

Hutchison is happy to have everything under one roof and also lets others rent space from her. She charges only for the time an activity is actually taking place. Set-up and tear-down time is free.

“It’s reasonably priced,” Hutchison said. “We want it to be used all the time.”

Capacity is 350 people. The building has been used for wedding receptions, bridal showers, birthday parties, club meetings, bingo by non-profit organizations, business meetings and vendor events. Weddings and Christmas parties have also been scheduled. The facility could host a prom, too, Hutchison said. They provide wifi and projection equipment, managed by the production coordinator, their son Aaron Hutchison.

On the catering side, Blue Heron has handled outside orders of 800 for area corporations. It also serves lunch and dinner the first and third Friday of every month from the parking lot on South Washington Street, either take out or eat in. Paul Hutchison mans the grill, and they have sold out of food every time.

Hutchison characterizes the menu as street food for the outside sales, and upscale Americana for catered events. Paris is the baker, and both do the cooking.

“From the time she was 4-years-old, Jessica has baked,” said Hutchison. “She loves it and she does it so well.”

In a name

Blue Heron, named for the regal birds on a lake in Indiana, invites potential customers in for food tastings. Several employees assist with the work of the company. They include Betty Elway and Brenda DeYoung, event coordinators; and Laura Seabolt, wedding cakes.

The venture has been rewarding so far.

“This is like a deli on steroids,” Hutchison remarked. “We are having so much fun.”

And lest the public worry, the Rescue Hose Company gets the use of the building the month of July, which includes the annual fireman’s carnival.

“That’s OK,” Hutchison said. “We’ll need the vacation.”

Blue Heron is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment.

The phone number is 717-830-2261 and the email is blueheroneventspa@gmailcom