Management

Jim Bucko, Managing Partner

I was born and raised in Merrillville Indiana and moved my family to Haddam Connecticut in 2006 to join my 3 partners to create and develop Riverhouse Properties LLC and The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station Inc. I am the managing partner for the business operations for The Riverhouse, The Society Room of Hartford and Riverhouse Catering.

For the past 27 years I have been involved in food service and hospitality. I am a graduate of Purdue University Calumet with a bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hospitality and institutional management. I started in the foodservice business at age 15 cooking breakfast at Ma’s Diner before high school. I have always had a passion for the hospitality business especially catering and specifically weddings! My experience has been gathered from several positions in the hospitality business such as General Manager of Sails Cafe restaurant on the shore of Lake Michigan and one of Indiana’s oldest private Country Clubs, Innsbrook Country Club but the majority of my experience coming from my time with White Lodging Services. I held different positions such as Banquet Manager, Director of Catering, Director of Food and Beverage, Hotel General Manager and Director of Engineering. It is also important to note that I have also worked in nearly every food service position there is, dishwasher, line cook, busboy, waiter, bartender. This was extremely important as it taught me the inner workings of the business.

During my tenure with While Lodging Service I spent the majority of my time at a 347 room Presidential Star award winning Radisson Hotel which has 35,000 square feet of banquet space and an attached 3400 seat performance Theatre, The Star Plaza. I enjoyed catering to the performers…..Don Henley, BB King, Ted Nugent, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Bolton, Christina Aguilera to name a few. We also hosted The Miss USA pageant where our catering operations were responsible for 90% of the events for the pageant and the contestants over the course of 2 weeks. I was fortunate enough to learn how to provide service to clients with extremely high expectations. I am able to use that knowledge and provide it to our clients in our company.

I feel my greatest talent is finding exceptional people to work with. The management staff in our company, I feel, is the finest in New England. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards and it shows…just ask our clients!


John Thompson, Executive Chef

049riverhouse-josephsMy name is John Thompson, Executive Chef of The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station. I am a long-time resident 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.


Mary Brasile, Banquet Manager

mary2012I joined The Riverhouse in the fall of 2011 with several years of experience in the wedding and banquet industry.

My passion for my job all started three months after my own wedding in 1992 when my photographer asked me to assist him with a rather large wedding. I continued to work with him for 15 years which led to my career in the banquet industry. I left the corporate world in the summer of 2003 and through the years I have worked in many aspects of the industry which have given me the understanding of the importance of managing your event. I have had the pleasure of assisting Creative Cakes by Donna and working for St. Clements Castle as a Banquet Manager. I have worked hundreds of corporate, social events and weddings. I have also had the pleasure of training and managing The Les Amis d’Escoffier Society Dinner.

I enjoy working with every client whether they are here for a corporate, social event or making the Bride and Grooms wedding day a memory to last a life time. My job is to have everyone leave here saying that we have exceeded their expectations whether it is a Continental Breakfast meeting, Corporate dinner, social event, wedding or a gala.

I love my job and I believe the passion I have for it shows. I am very proud to be a part of The Riverhouse Team.


Hattie Ruehl, Wedding Sales & Special Events Manager

hattie2012I joined The Riverhouse in the Summer of 2010 as the Assistant Banquet Manager. I had spent the previous 2 years working in the restaurant at The Saybrook Point Inn. Having earned an Associates Degree in Business Management at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts and a Bachelors Degree in Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Management at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, I was eager to experience other areas within the hospitality industry. When I was offered the position of Assistant Banquet Manager at The Riverhouse, I couldn’t have been happier.

The hands-on experience I gained while working along-side the Banquet Manager – the knowledge and understanding of event set up, floor design, staffing and execution – prepared me for a potential promotion to the sales & catering department. A year after joining The Riverhouse, I was promoted to the Social Events & Wedding Sales Assistant Manager position. This position enabled me to work directly with all of the wedding and special event clients. In addition to sales and detailing of weddings and special events, I also had the responsibility of organizing each Bridal Tasting and Annual Bridal Show.

In February 2013, the position of Wedding Sales Manager became available. I gladly excepted this new opportunity. While working with our brides, one of my favorite parts of the wedding industry is watching the ballroom come alive…from a bare room of tables and chairs transformed into all the glitz and glam of each special event. It’s the details that excited me… specialty linens, beautiful flower arrangements and glistening votive candles. Watching the bride’s face light up at her first look of the ballroom is an incredible feeling! I am happy to be a part of making each and every event memorable.


Kelley Smith, General Manager

017riverhouse-josephsI came to The Riverhouse with 20 years of event sales and planning experience in 2007. My career began at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in 1987 as a Sales Manager in the sales and catering department. During my time at Water’s Edge, I solicited and detailed corporate functions, in addition to weddings and various social events.

In 2004 I was contracted by Pfizer as a Meeting Consultant – I provided support for offsite meetings and events at various 5 star resorts around the United States. “Kelley used her knowledge of the hotel and hospitality industry, along with her personable style, to ensure that Pfizer planners and meeting participants were always satisfied with each event’s outcome” said a member of the Meeting Development team at Pfizer.

Jim Bucko, Managing Partner of Riverhouse Properties, said, “Kelley introduced herself early on in The Riverhouse project. With our management team already in place, I filed her resume for future contact. Weeks after The Riverhouse opened its doors on June 22, 2007 I realized we needed a corporate sales and event coordinator to simply work with the corporate markets. Kelley’s background was very impressive, not only with the corporate markets but her experience with weddings and social events from her time at Water’s Edge. It was a natural fit and easy transition for her to make.”Kelley has recently been promoted to General Manager.