by Jeanne Muchnick
Source: The Journal News
Colby Brock, center, the general manager of the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle speaks with Emily Montalvo, left, and Natasha Richardson at the hotel.
(Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)Colby Brock likes to say she has two babies — her 4-month-old daughter, Harlow, and the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, where she works as general manager.
Brock practically grew up in the business, learning from her father (and role model), Peter Brock, a partner in Brock Development Corp., a family-owned company that specializes in the acquisition, development, redevelopment, management, leasing and maintenance of commercial real estate assets in New York, Florida and other states across the country.
"I've been in the hospitality industry for 20 years," says the White Plains resident who distinctly remembers her first job interning as a front-desk agent at the Embassy Suites in Palm Beach, Florida.
Since taking over as general manager last August — right about the time she was starting her second trimester, her main priorities have been the hotel's new $1 million energy project, as well as adding outdoor dining to NoMa Social, the hotel's Mediterranean-style restaurant where she previously worked as food and beverage director. There has also been a concentration on creating innovative summer and fall guest room packages, adding local attractions to the mix, and putting together new menus for NoMa Social and the banquet department.
Lest one think she moved up the ranks based solely on her family connections, think again. Brock says her father wouldn't allow her to have a full-time job at any of his properties until she had gained some practical experience elsewhere. So she spent her late teens and early 20s working in a variety of hotels and restaurants in New York, Connecticut and Florida. "I wanted to do anything and everything to learn as much as I could, most times working two jobs and going to school full-time," she says. That included stints running the gamut from food expeditor to sales marketing assistant, to bartender and reservations manager.
Her Westchester career began at the Radisson in 1998 working as a front-desk agent before moving on to roles in food and beverage. At one point she went back to school to earn a degree in interior design and worked as a designer for a small firm on Long Island. Though she enjoyed it, she said she craved the daily hustle of the hotel business, which was when she came back to the property to help with the reinvention and renovation of NoMa Social, essentially bridging the gap between her design and hospitality experience.
She was also instrumental in the hotel's recent refurbishments of the guest rooms, lobby, ballrooms and bathrooms. The space is now much fresher and modern with a stylish aesthetic geared toward both leisure and business guests. "Our goal is to offer the services more aligned with a boutique urban property than what is typically expected in this area," she says. "My dad always told me that if you are good to your business, your business will be good to you. It's my job to present that in everything we do."
Who: Colby Brock
Her job: General manger, the Radisson Hotel, New Rochelle
How she got into the business: "I was born into it," she says. "This is a family business and I get joy and pleasure out of not only working alongside and for my father, but also knowing I'm building something for my family."
Best part of the job: "Balancing the 'mini businesses' that make up the business. There's food management. There's client relations. There's special events. There's design, and so on," she explains. Brock also says she enjoys working with her family — her dad, her husband, Mario, who she met on the job and who helps maintain the property — as well as her extended Radisson family plus "all the different types of people that walk in the door. ... I'm constantly learning things from the folks I meet, whether they are co-workers or guests," she says.
Most challenging part of the job: Working with her family. "What makes my job so wonderful is also what makes it challenging," she explains.
Tips for working your way up the ladder: "Put the time in and work hard. You have to constantly look for a challenge to make what you're doing better while always looking for what's next and constantly learning what's new. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Always be truthful. Make what you are doing fun. I love the quote, 'If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.'"
Fun fact: She met her husband while working at NoMa Social. Someone called in sick, meaning she had to cover a bartending shift. "I poured him a drink, and now here we are," she says.
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Source: The Journal News
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton hosts a launch party for Viva Diva Wines, at NoMa Social in New Rochelle.
Perez Hilton takes a minute to pose with some fans.
Singer Christina Milian poses with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
Members of the cast from the reality show Big Rich Atlanta.
Photos: Tara Abadir for The Journal News
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by Heather Salerno
Celeb blogger Perez Hilton will be in New Rochelle to host a Viva Diva wine launch at NoMa Social. / Hannah Ross
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton — aka Mario Lavandeira Jr. — started out in 2004 as a pink-haired Hollywood rabble-rouser, a guy whose stock in trade were mean-spirited comments and often indecent doodles scribbled on paparazzi photos that skewered many of the famous folks covered by his online gossip column.
That strategy worked: PerezHilton.com is one of the most popular websites for celebrity news, the cornerstone of a media company that now includes other sites (like CocoPerez for celeb fashion and TeddyHilton for pets), books, a syndicated radio show and Hilton’s own record label. Earlier this year, though, after becoming a single dad to a baby boy born to a surrogate, the controversial blogger decided to soften the snark and put out more positive posts.
We caught up with Hilton before Wednesday night’s appearance at NoMa Social in New Rochelle, where he’ll host a poolside launch party for Viva Diva wines. Scheduled guests include Melissa Gorga of “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Kelly Bensimon of “Real Housewives of New York” and the entire cast of “Big Rich Atlanta.” Hilton agreed to answer a few questions by email in advance.
Q: A few of the Real Housewives will be attending the party at NoMa Social, too. Hoping to get any good gossip while you’re there?
A: Here’s a confession. I’ve never seen a single episode of the Housewives but I’m aware of who they all are and I talk about them on the website all the time. I don’t watch any television but I consume a lot of media online so I’ll watch clips of everything that way.
Q: Congratulations on your new son. How’s fatherhood so far?
A: Fatherhood is awesome and very new. I’ve never done it before but I feel like my instincts definitely come into play, and while it’s not easy, it’s also not hard.
Q: What’s the best parenting tip you’ve gotten from a celebrity?
A: The best parenting tip I got was from David Furnish, Elton John’s husband, which was to put your baby on a schedule, which is what I was already doing instinctually. So you know, like feed him at the same time every day and really give him a routine.
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by Liz Johnson
Garden writer Bill Cary is advancing the New Rochelle Garden Tour coming up this weekend, so we here at Small Bites thought it would be a good time to jump in with some recommendations for lunch and dinner. Here, a look at a few of the best restaurants in New Rochelle:
A funky, modern library-like decor filled with homey hang-out spots including the centerpiece: a large living room setup in the middle of the room with an oversized purple couch, assorted chairs and a huge coffee table meant for lounging (and grazing). A small-plates menu includes wood-fired pizzas, cured and aged meats and market greens. Ideal for a group: The option of five tastes or tapas and a pitcher of sangria for $50. One Radisson Plaza. 914-576-4141
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by Latoya West
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton might get some juicy gossip for his blog when he hosts Viva Diva’s poolside bash at NoMa Social in New Rochelle on June 5.
After all, the attendees will include “Real Housewives” stars Melissa Gorga and Kelly Bensimon, the cast of “Big Rich Atlanta,” Patti Stanger star “Millionaire Matchmaker,” HGC Diet creator Dr Emma,, “Jersey Shore” party girl Deena Cortese, “Mob Wives” diva Carla Facciolo, “Jerseylicious” stylist Tracy DiMarco and more stars to be announced.
The party will celebrate the summer launch of Viva Divas, a line of Moscato wine. (And we all know how much reality stars love their wine!)
If you’d like to join the fun, general admission tickets are on sale for $50. VIP tickets, which include a photo with Perez and a swag bag, are $100. Visit vivabrandsusa.com/events to purchase.
The event will begin at 8 p.m. and end at 11 p.m.
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by Chris Serico
Source: New York Newsday
Gossip blogger Perez Hilton is heading to New Rochelle on June 5 to host the Annual Poolside Summer Bash event at NoMa Social (1 Radisson Plaza, New Rochelle, 914-576-4141, www.nomasocial.com).
The self-proclaimed "Queen of all Media," Hilton follows in the footsteps of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" star Tamra Barney, who held a bachelorette party at NoMa last month. Barney's event featured music, an open bar with specialty drinks, Mediterranean tapas by NoMa executive chef Bill Rosenberg, gift bags and party favors.
"It was phenomenal," said Robyn Santiago, a spokewoman for both NoMa events. "People had a great time. And we expected it to be great press-wise, but we didn't expect it to be as unbelievable as it was."
A launch party to promote the Viva Diva wine and cocktail line, Hilton's event is expected to include complimentary cocktails with paid admission, a pasta station, tapas and a celebrity DJ — next to NoMa's pool.
The Annual Poolside Summer Bash will run from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $50 apiece and only 300 such tickets will be available; VIP packages, which include gift bags and a meet-and-greet with Hilton, are $100 apiece, with only 100 packages available. All tickets can be purchased at www.vivabrandsusa.com/events.html.
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Get the deets and see video from “Real Housewives” star Tamra Barney’s bachelorette party in New Rochelle
by LINDA LOMBROSO AND ANDREW KLAPPHOLZ
Posted by: Latoya West - Posted in Celebrity Appearances
On the red carpet at NoMa Social last night twirling her purple hair extensions—and yes, she picked that color deliberately to show solidarity with New Rochelle, the unlikely site of a bachelorette party celebrating her upcoming marriage to Eddie Judge, who also appears on the Bravo show.
Barney, who looks like a tiny doll with killer abs—built up, no doubt, from recent workouts at CUT Fitness, her new gym in Orange County, CA—smiled for the cameras and patiently answered questions from the crowd. (See photos here) Not at all the mean girl—that’s a reputation she’s earned unfairly, said Barney in an earlier interview—-she embraced fans and opened gifts from strangers, mostly women in cocktail dresses who looked vaguely celebrity-like themselves.
With just a sprinkling of actual celebs in attendance—-Amy Poliakoff from “Gallery Girls” and New Rochelle native Robin Kassner, who’s appeared twice on “Millionaire Matchmaker”—the event became a sort of celebrity hunt, as guests elbowed each other and stared. “Who is that guy?” said one woman, pointing to a muscular dude who looked like he might be somebody.
Barney, however, was happy to do her part as the celebrity-who-mingles-with-regular-people, happily talking to anyone at all.
Just how involved is her fiancé in the wedding plans?
“Eddie’s like, ‘Don’t include me, just tell me where to show up,’ ‘’ she said, adding that he’s not at all eager to go cake-tasting.
Nevertheless, plans are coming along nicely for Barney and Judge’s June wedding. “It’ll be mild…in an Orange County sort of way,” she said. She’s considering an old Hollywood style wedding, with a big band and swing music, or possibly a beach wedding at Montage Laguna Beach, a luxurious Orange County waterfront hotel.
No doubt Barney will leave her purple hair extensions at home.
Area holiday celebrations saw an uptick this season
by Ernie Garcia>
Source: The Journal News
Area holiday celebrations saw an uptick this season, although a pall from the school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., lingered in the background of those held this past week.
“Daily routine and normalcy is maybe not a cure, but it’s sort of a comforting feeling when something like this happens,” said Blauvelt caterer Joe Agnello, who has two young children. “For the most part, everyone kept on doing what they were doing.”
The Newtown shootings delivered a horrifying end to a year in which many event planners, caterers and banquet-hall managers noted a rise in employee holiday parties — a sign, many said, that more local businesses are prospering.
News of the shootings, however, did lead some party-related businesses to make adjustments to acknowledge the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Grand Prix New York in Mount Kisco, for example, had a moment of silence during its Dec. 14 events. The Suffern Crowne Plaza’s holiday bookings were unaffected, but the hotel’s ownership canceled a March 2 and 3 gun show in response to the tragedy.
Robert Wilson, general manager at the Crowne Plaza, said that he had about 25 company parties scheduled at the hotel this month, compared with five last year.
“It’s been a much stronger year,” said Wilson.
Diana Gould, president of Diana Gould Ltd., a floral and event decor company with an Elmsford showroom and production facility, said most of the holiday events she worked on were held before the shootings occurred and that a big event she did this past week was unchanged. Despite this year’s somber ending, Gould called the 2012 holiday party season “a four-star wow.”
“I could only attribute it to the improving economy and I think there’s a very positive feeling out there in corporate land as far as where business is going,” Gould said.
Colby Brock, food and beverage director at the NoMa Social Restaurant at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, said her staff was very busy this month.
“I definitely think this holiday season has been more prosperous,” said Brock, who on Dec. 13 organized a 200-person party for small companies that couldn’t fill a large space on their own. “The economy has jolted more people back into wanting to celebrate.”
Local and state officials do not keep statistics on how many businesses are having holiday parties this year and a number of local companies declined to discuss their plans.
Kim Sullivan, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at the Event Planners Association in Lake Forest, Calif., said the trade group’s members have told her that corporate events are up.
“They’re not spending what they did a few years ago, but they are starting to loosen the purse strings,” said Sullivan.
In its 2012 Corporate Events Marketplace Study, Special Events magazine found that 44 percent of party planners said they would produce more events in 2012. About 43 percent of respondents said they expected to work with bigger party budgets this year.
Although the national unemployment rate in November was still high at 7.7 percent, many publicly traded corporations had a good year.
Frank Rivas, a general manager at the Henry Schein medical products company in Melville, N.Y., bought 40 tickets for the NoMa Social holiday party. Rivas said he invited his region’s managers and business associates to join him.
“It’s our way of saying thank you for all they do,” said Rivas. “It was a good year for us. Hurricane Sandy stalled our momentum a little bit but we picked it up.”
Not all local business owners are in a mood to celebrate. Nat Mundy of Grand Prix New York said that midsize companies with less than 100 employees seemed to be pulling back on their December merriment.
“They basically stopped spending money and they’re preparing for Obamacare that is going to cost them a lot more money,” said Mundy. “We saw a lot of our corporate clients come in and hold the holiday party before the election.”
Stacy Gerber, owner of Total Party Concepts in Nyack, said his his corporate business has been “a little” better than in previous years. Even with an improved economy, Gerber said some of his clients are sensitive about parties that look too lavish.
“A lot of my clients don’t want to show that they are spending a lot of money,” said Gerber, who accommodates those requests by offering smaller menus with higher-quality selections and by having service staff wear casual clothing instead of tuxedos.
For his part, Agnello, owner of Northern Comfort Catering, said his corporate business remained steady in recent years.
“I don’t know that the economy is coming around that much,” said Agnello, who catered a 150-person banquet Monday.
One company making larger plans than last year is Regeneron, a biotechnology company in Tarrytown, which will have a its holiday party on Jan. 12. Regeneron has much to celebrate this year with a Food and Drug Administration approval of its cancer drug Zaltrap and with a stock price that has more than tripled this year, bringing its market capitalization to $17 billion, said Peter Dworkin, vice-president of corporate communications.
Regeneron’s almost 2,000 employees are all invited to the party, so that requires a large hotel with multiple ballrooms, Dworkin said.
“We feel that holiday parties are something that employees look forward to,” Dworkin said. “It’s a way of thanking them again for all their hard work in the previous year and one more opportunity to come together as an extended family.”