Hattie R. Donner:
In the summer of 2010 I started working at The Riverhouse as the Assistant Banquet Manager. Coming from the Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant I was eager to learn a new side of the industry.
I studied at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida where I specialized in Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Management with a minor in Marketing. I also attended Mount Ida College in Boston Massachusetts for a degree in Business Management. With my education and experience working with the Banquet Manager, I gained knowledge of event setup, floor design, staffing and execution.
My favorite part of the wedding industry was watching the ballroom come alive. From a bare room with just tables and chairs to all the glitz and glam of each event. I get excited over linens, flower arrangements, glistening votive candles and attention to detail. Watching the bride’s face light up at her first look to the room is the best feeling. I was happy to be a part of this, knowing that we did everything to make each event special.
In the last several years at The Riverhouse I have worked as the assistant banquet manager, wedding sales manager and have recently been promoted to the General Manager. Every department has given me a different experience that has enabled my knowledge for event planning.
Wedding Sales Manager
I started working at the Riverhouse when I was 17 years old with a lot to learn. I was a server assistant at first, learning how to serve and work in a banquet environment. After a short time, I became a Server which gave me more contact with guests and clients. I have served Brides and Grooms on their wedding day as a “Bridal Attendant.” I have also served celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker at one of our annual galas. In time, I earned the position of Banquet Captain, where I learned a great deal about leadership and became an expert on serving. It was in this position that I knew that hospitality would be my career choice.
About a year later, I was offered the Banquet Manager position. I was fortunate to work directly with couples to make their wedding day everything they had hoped for. I also ran a variety of corporate and social events, such as fundraisers, cocktail parties, company holiday parties, and bar mitzvahs. I loved working on the floor, but my ultimate goal was always to work in the sales office. I attended bridal shows and volunteered my time in the office to further my knowledge about the sales aspect of the job.
After a little over a year, I was offered the job of Assistant Wedding Sales & Social Sales Manager in the sales office. In the office I was able to meet with couples to go over all of their weddings details prior to their wedding and be in constant contact with couples as they planned their big day. It opened my eyes to all of the work that goes into a wedding prior to the execution and I enjoyed watching the couple’s vision all come together! After 3 years of being in the sales office, the Weddings Sales Manager position became available and I was offered my dream job. All of my past knowledge from my different positions here at the Riverhouse will undeniably help me in the future, and I cannot wait to learn even more as the Wedding Sales Manager! I love everything about the Riverhouse and I know you will too!
Assistant Wedding Sales & Social Sales Manager
Jillian McCarthy is the Assistant Wedding Sales Manager & Social Sales Manager at The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station. Jillian has been in this position since March 2017 and joins us from a background of experiences from across the company and the country. Jillian received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Minor in Business Fundamentals from The University of Connecticut Storrs Campus in May 2015. Her event planning career began as a Wedding Sales Intern for the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in the summer of 2013. It was here that Jillian learned the practice of long days and hectic business hours, splitting her time between both Sales and Operations. Jillian was introduced to the Riverhouse Hospitality team when she became the Wedding Sales Intern at The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in the summer of 2014. In the second semester of her senior year, Jillian then signed on as the Office Assistant at The Society Room of Hartford where she worked for 5 months. Jillian started full time as the Assistant Wedding Sales Manager & Social Sales Manager at The Society Room and worked there for 14 months until she made the move to The Riverhouse.
Throughout her undergraduate career Jillian planned events through the campus programming boards and community involvement. She learned to work with a diverse student body hosting events for 2,000 attendees to 20 attendees. Jillian also had the opportunity to work off-site catering events with PepsiCo throughout college. Hosting private parties for PepsiCo’s Top Sales Executives from around the world in The New York City Museum of Natural History and Manhattan’s Hard Rock Café, Jillian learned she was able to handle the chaos and rush of large and unique events, but loved the stationary venue side of the hospitality industry.
Post-graduation, Jillian moved to Chicago, IL for a full time Event Planning position with NOAH’S Event Venue where she worked for four months doing both Sales and Operations. In December of 2015 Jillian moved back to to rejoin the Riverhouse Hospitality team.
Corporate Sales Manger
I joined The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in April 2013 as Corporate Sales Manager. I was quickly impressed with this team of professionals and excited to work with Businesses and Organizations on Special Events and Meetings.
The first job I held in my career was at Arrowwood Conference Center in Purchase, NY as Restaurant Manager, Room Service Manager and Conference Planning Manager. The operations background I received gave me a great foundation for my career in hospitality.
When my family relocated to Connecticut, I joined the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, CT. For 5 years I held the position as Conference Planner and then moved into a Corporate Sales Manager position. I then accepted a position the next town over in Old Saybrook at the Saybrook Point Inn as a Corporate Sales Manager where I held that position for 6 years and worked with senior executives and CEO’s in the tri-state area.
I enjoy working at beautiful properties preferably located on the water. My focus has always been on providing great customer service and building long-lasting relationships with my clients. It’s my goal to make their jobs as easy as possible.
Many ask why I made the move from a hotel to a banquet venue. I was ready for a change and felt The Riverhouse was a good fit – a growing company with lots of energy and passion where the focus is on personal customer service. At Riverhouse Hospitality – we provide the 4 Diamond Experience – just without the hotel rooms.
Director Of Operations
Linda graduated from the University of Connecticut School of business with a degree in marketing. After spending twenty years working as an office manager at a local veterinary clinic she returned to the human side of the hospitality industry. Starting at the Riverhouse seven years ago as a part time server her passion for service was awarded with a promotion to captain and her current position as banquet manager. Linda enjoys being able to take the clients dreams and visions for each event and making it their reality. Unable to completely give up her love for animals she can still be found in her free time assisting clients and patients at a veterinary hospital.
My name is John Thompson, Executive Chef of The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station.
I am a long-timeresident of Haddam but born and raised in Brookline Massachusetts. For the previous 14 years before joining The Riverhouse I was the Executive Chef at The Simsbury Inn in Simsbury Connecticut. I have had the privilege to train under several well-accomplished chefs and have gained experience at various venues including the Sheraton Hotel-Boston, Holiday Inn/Crown Plaza Hotel-Hartford, the Brazilian Court hotel in Palm Beach and The Montauk Yacht Club. As a chef for the past 30 years I am proud to say I have had my work recognized by the American Culinary Federation, Les Amis d’Escoffier Society and the James Beard Foundation to name a few. I have been invited to be part of several guest chef events, where the best-of-the-best are gathered, to create culinary presentations for organizations such as The March of Dimes, United States Department of Defense and The American Cancer Society.
I am credited to have overseen the culinary presentation for more than 1000 weddings in my career. I see my strengths as attention to detail and a passion for creating from scratch, especially sauces and soups, which I say are my specialty.
When I learned about the opportunity at The Riverhouse I saw immediate and long-term potential and wanted to be a part of it. Leaving the Simsbury Inn along with its great management and ownership group was, however, the toughest decision of my career.
My name is Benjamin Quinones and I am the Sous Chef here at The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station. I graduated from the Lincoln Culinary Institute in 2008 and began my internship here at The Riverhouse soon after. I remember someone once told me, “Do what you love and love what you do.” That is exactly what I am doing now.
I began my culinary career at Café Routier in Westbrook, where I learned all the basics about food. After about a year, I accepted a position at The Lawn Club of New Haven where I realized that cooking for weddings and events was what I really wanted to do. While working at The Lawn Club I also started attending Lincoln Culinary. It was at this time I began my Riverhouse internship and decided to pursue a career with this team full time.
My first position with The Riverhouse was in garde manger. I then moved to appetizers, and eventually, started working side by side with Executive Chef Thompson. Within 18 months, we started the off-site catering division which I held primary responsibility for the culinary aspect of it. I have catered events at the Branford House, Wadsworth Mansion, Middlesex Yacht Club, and Wesleyan University.
I was promoted to Sous Chef and have executed hundreds of corporate and social events along with weddings. I was given a great opportunity and to me this is not work. The way I look at it is that I get to be part of something special every week and it is an honor.
Human Resource Manager
I joined The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station during the summer of 2016 as Payroll and Human Resource Manager. A few months earlier, I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Fundamentals. I considered myself extremely fortunate to have earned this position in such a short time and was thrilled to be coming in to such a great company! I knew I had a lot to learn jumping into a role in the Accounting department, but I was even more excited to learn all the different aspects of Riverhouse Hospitality.
Working in the hospitality industry has really taught me the importance of teamwork, and that it takes everyone’s best effort to make every event special. One of my favorite parts about working at The Riverhouse is the family atmosphere and being able to work closely with every one of my colleagues. I love that I am learning something new every day, and I get to do so on a beautiful property located on the Connecticut River. I look forward to continue strengthening my skills in a business environment alongside a wonderful team!