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 Director of Operations, 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 in 2017 was promoted to the General Manager. Every department has given me a different experience that has enabled my knowledge for event planning.
When I’m not with my work family, you can find me with my husband Donnie and our two young boys, either enjoying our property in East Haddam or at the beach in Old Saybrook.
Wedding Sales Manager
I started working at The Riverhouse as a server when I was 17 years old and have been falling in love with the industry ever since. Prior to being in the Sales Office, I had the pleasure of embracing many positions in the company such as Bridal Attendant, Banquet Captain, and Banquet Manager. I was fortunate to work directly with couples on their wedding day to make it everything they had hoped for. In these rolls, I learned a great deal about leadership, service and etiquette. I loved working the ballroom, 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. Eventually, I was offered my dream job of working in wedding sales.
In the office I am able to meet with couples to go over all of their wedding’s details prior to their reception and am in constant contact with couples as they planned their big day. It has opened my eyes to all of the work that goes into a wedding prior to the execution, and I thoroughly enjoy watching the couple’s vision come together! All of my past knowledge from my different positions here at the Riverhouse undeniably helps me assist our couples to plan the best day ever! I love everything about the Riverhouse, and I know you will too!!
In May of 2022, Rob joined the Riverhouse Team as a Banquet Captain while he simultaneously completed his degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management at Southern Connecticut State University. After graduating, he was offered and happily accepted the position of Banquet Manager.
Over the years, Rob has gained and honed a diverse set of skills from various positions in both the hospitality and medical fields, including in restaurants as a line cook and waiter, as a department head in a nursing home, and most recently as an EMT in an emergency room. While these individual roles may seem significantly different from Event Management, all fall under the umbrella of hospitality and have provided him a unique and diverse perspective on how to care for and tend to clients and guests in any capacity.
Thanks to the Riverhouse, weddings and events have quickly become a passion of his. Seeing the detail and excitement the managers show for each event, as well as the excitement from guests leading up to and during an event, has had a profound effect on him and convinced him that the event industry is truly where he belongs.
When Rob isn’t at the Riverhouse, he enjoys spending time with friends, whether it be snowboarding, wake boarding or fishing throughout the Sound, or “enjoying” a round of golf!
I joined the Riverhouse team mid summer season of 2023. I reside just down the road in the village of Higganum with my husband Josh and our four wonderful daughters, Hannah, Eleanor, Isla, and Celia. I’ve spent over 20 years immersed in the service and hospitality industry.
My journey into the world of hospitality began at family gatherings, where my cousin and I enthusiastically took everyone’s dinner orders. This love for serving others led me to the restaurant business, where I started as a host and worked my way up to becoming a skilled server. For the past 15 years, I’ve been an integral part of Penny Lane Pub in Old Saybrook, wearing many hats along the way – from server to front-of-house manager, office manager, and
During my time at Penny Lane Pub, I discovered a true passion for event coordination. Witnessing the magic of a room transformed and bringing the visions of our guests to life brought me immense joy. As I step into the exciting new season of 2023, I’m thrilled to embark on a new chapter as a part of the Riverhouse team. I can’t wait to continue creating unforgettable experiences and turning dreams into reality.
With over 25 years of experience in the culinary industry, Diana is a natural-born chef, artist, and team leader who thrives in the heat of the kitchen and loves a challenge. In her career, she has worked in kitchens across the country, from private parties in Greenwich, CT to the fast-paced restaurant scene in Los Angeles, CA.
In 2014, after spending a month backpacking solo through France and Spain, Diana’s passion for cooking and new experiences with global cuisine led her back to Connecticut, where she was humbled by the opportunity to run a local soup kitchen, allowing her to channel her culinary expertise for the aid of those in need. During her time with the non-profit, she helped pioneer the “MACC Chefs” Culinary Job Training Program for the underprivileged as an instructor and mentor. After the birth of her children, Diana took a brief hiatus before landing her role as Sous Chef at the award-winning restaurant, “The Charles”, in Old Wethersfield. While there, she aided in menu development, served as horticulturist for the restaurant’s garden, and assisted in opening one of Connecticut’s top restaurants in the midst of a global pandemic. Before coming to The Riverhouse, Diana served as Lead Catering Chef with “Doro Catering & Events” in West Hartford, where she led the culinary team and executed weddings, galas, mitzvahs, memorial services, and many other types of events all around the state.
Diana emphasizes her deep-rooted passion for “farm to fork”, raising and butchering poultry and maintaining a year-round garden at her home. She has also penned articles for and been featured in “Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine” and strives to maintain relationships and partnerships with local farmers.
As Executive Chef at The Riverhouse, Diana uses all of her experiences to create truly unique dishes and memorable events for each and every one of her clients. From casual get-togethers to rustic farm style weddings and fine dining, Diana feels at home in her niche with The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station.
When Diana is not playing with fire and knives, she enjoys quilting, learning new hobbies or trades and spending time relaxing by a fire with her husband, Phil and their two sons, Nick and Jack.
Chef Joel Rivera began his journey as Sous Chef of the Riverhouse as the oldest son of a single mom, who taught him that opportunities are made and not given. As a child, he spent many a time with his siblings in the kitchen, cultivating his passion for creating foods made with love – a passion that he brings every day to our clients at the Riverhouse!
Joel joined the restaurant industry 18 years ago – and after many ups, downs and injuries along the way, his passion still thrives! He began as a line cook and moved through the ranks as the Sous Chef of both Park & Oak in West Hartford and A’vert Braisserie in West Hartford, the Executive Chef at the Canoe Club in Middletown, and most recently as the Sous Chef at Morina’s in Haddam. Joel joined the Riverhouse Family in 2023!
Joel leaves his heart on each plate he creates – his creativity and love of cuisine is second to none! As a father of an 18 year old, he lives by the example he wants to set for his daughter – live each day with your whole heart – and it’s never too late to spread your wings and create new opportunities!