• Meet Julie Sawitz, Lunches for Legends and Dinners for Divas

     
    POSTED February 13, 2019
     

    It’s all in a day’s work for Julie Sawitz, the 21 Club’s director of private dining.

There are restaurants and then there is the 21 Club. This iconic Midtown Manhattan restaurant has been a club of sorts for everyone from movie stars and business tycoons to American presidents. There are 10 private dining rooms within the 21 Club, but the restaurant is most famous for its Bar Room, notable for the toys suspended from the ceiling reflecting the various companies run by regular patrons. The room has graced the silver screen many times, but it’s the legendary wine cellar, once a speakeasy during Prohibition, that remains the most buzzed-about space.

Presiding over all of this is Julie Sawitz, 21 Club’s director of private dining. Despite it being a “six days a week kind of job,” Sawitz clearly loves what she does. It’s a good thing too, since she handles around 2,000 events a year. “I’ve done everything from product launches and movie openings to board dinners, financial company roadshows … you name it.”

Sawitz has been with the 21 Club for 25 years and she’s planned events for just about anyone who is anyone. While there are very few celebrities she hasn’t met or planned an event for, Sawitz is particularly adept at making everyone feel like an A-lister regardless of their social standing or bank account. “My job is to make memories for people.” Indeed, Sawitz’s personal touch is not only palpable, but keeps a steady stream of clients coming back for more. Some have become friends over the years. “I’ve actually attended weddings of the children of clients,” she says.

In an often transient industry, Sawitz’s 25 years of service is indeed impressive, but it’s clear she could never leave. Whether it’s planning a top-notch event or showing off the wine cellar (accessed through an unassuming but heavy brick door secured with a meat skewer) she never tires of the pace—or the place. “Sure, I’ve seen the wine cellar a million times, but that reaction people get when they first push open the door and get a peek inside … it just never gets old.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better champion of Amarillo than Hope Stokes, director of brand management for the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle city, she graduated from nearby West Texas A&M University and her first job in the tourism industry was as an intern at the council. Stokes shared with us her love of her hometown.

What is your favorite thing about marketing Amarillo?

 

Ken Hayward has spent nearly his entire career serving at one hotel. But when you start your career at one of the most iconic and historic hotels in Michigan— even the nation—it’s hard to see yourself anywhere else. Hayward, executive vice president and managing director of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, was recently named Hotelier of the Year by Historic Hotels of America. This honor comes decades after Hayward was given an unexpected opportunity.

 

A lifelon New Yorker, Emily Schmalholz was a TV producer at VH1 before moving into the events industry and landing at Westchester’s The Capitol Theatre. As director of special events at the historic space and its bar, Garcia’s, she says creating events and working in television have lots in common. “The ultimate goal for both is to tell a great story and create memorable moments.” Schmalholz, a self-described “event therapist,” had more to say about her work.

What’s the biggest difference between producing for television and producing events?