Does Legendary Events reflect your vision today in the same way it did 20 years ago?
I really had no idea that we would be in the marketplace in such a large way as we are now. I’d always hoped we’d stay in the marketplace for some time in a significant way, but I had no idea it was going to be like this. We have a funny little saying that I said to a few clients: “I’m just going to do a few cheese trays.” We’re extremely fortunate that it has turned out the way it has in 20 years.
How has being based in Atlanta influenced the direction and growth of the company?
Atlanta has been really positive for us—in the commercial side of things, as well as the wedding market here, and of course the entertainment industry, which kind of exploded seven or eight years ago. It’s such a dynamic city with so many requests for special events. I think we were in the right place at the right time. When we opened in February of ’97, it seemed like people were kind of interested in something new. We had just finished the Olympics in 1996, and I think it was a little taxing on our industry for the city. It didn’t hurt that a lot of our client base had followed me from my days at The Ritz-Carlton. They were just really generous, and that’s how it all started.
You now have a new venue, Flourish. Can you share how you discovered that?
I had parked at that venue’s parking lot one night because we were so busy at The Estate. I came over to get my car, and I was just wondering, ‘What is this building?’ So I wandered around and found a door ajar and went in. I thought, ‘I need to find out what this is.’ So I made a couple calls and found the owner of the property. I just kind of wandered into it. I called my team and said, ‘You need to come see this place.’ They were a bit apprehensive at first because we already had our place, The Estate, on Piedmont. They were a bit cautious about looking at a place right across the street. But it was different. It was much bigger—three times the size—and had a unique feel and look.
What made you decide it was the right time to open another venue?
We have some great venues in that area, but I just knew we needed another one, especially one of that size. So I thought about it, talked about it, dreamt about it and decided to take that leap. Fortunately, it’s been a great success.
One of Flourish’s unique design features is all the chandeliers you’ve incorporated, even in the porte cochere.
I keep this file of inspirational photos and things, and I’d found this chandelier wall in Paris years ago, which I just really loved. I pulled that back out and showed it to the team, and we did it. We wanted something really unique and unusual and different. In the entrance, I couldn’t have a normal 10 to 12 chandeliers; we had to have 110. [There are] 49 in the ballroom. It gave it a different look than all other larger spaces in our city. From there we had to add the sconces into the porte cochere because it needed to extend out to there. I wanted it to be open-air so you had that fresh air for your reception but you didn’t have to tent it.
Can you share the inspiration behind some of the other design features?
We worked with Harrison Design on the black-and-white tile in the restrooms. I was inspired by a black-and-white restroom that I saw somewhere in LA. I pulled that inspiration, and we augmented that and came up with something really unusual—I wanted there to be a contemporary pop again. I wanted to achieve that effect when you drove up, when you entered the prefunction room with Khalilah Birdsong’s fabulous art, when you went into the restroom and then when you went to the ballroom, with the 49 chandeliers. I really loved that it was all of these pops of interest everywhere you turned.
What feel were you hoping to create for guests?
I wanted it to be contemporary and extraordinary. I wanted it to be a clean palette to where any guest can do anything in the space—we’ve had everything from themed galas to beautiful weddings, [including] a couple of really colorful, beautiful Indian weddings. The monochromatic palette really lends itself to that, and in the event world, you never know whose event is going to look like what. I didn’t want people to feel like they were fighting something. Harrison Design was really great working with us on that, as was Restoration Hardware, who gave us many designs of their chandeliers. I couldn’t be more happy with what it turned out to be.
What’s next for you?
Right now, we have kept our eyes open for other interesting spaces that might come about. It would be nice to find something in Midtown, maybe the downtown area, but it has to complement the venues and hotels that are already there. People ask me, “What’s your exit plan?” And as long as I continue enjoying the best job in the world, planning events, I don’t know about that exit plan for a while.