Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Hart.
Paul, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Back in the 1950s my parents started a catering company called “Hart Brothers Caterers” out of their home in Roslindale. After many successful parties and perfected recipes, they quickly grew to be one of the biggest caterers in the Boston area. With the higher demand, they moved to Dorchester to what used to be the old Hood Milk plant. By 1968 they saw a golden opportunity when they realized they needed even more space and a larger facility. Through their ability to combine their entertainment value and fine culinary prowess bringing a new vision of grand venue space to a yet-untapped area: Massachusetts’ South Shore – my parents built The Lantana.
Meeting success within two years we doubled the size of the building. We went from one ballroom to four ballrooms and a night club. While we no longer have a nightclub, we do have five fully-renovated ballrooms with a capacity of 2000 people.
I was one of seven children and we all worked in the business growing-up, doing everything from scooping balls of vanilla ice cream for desserts to working the front of the house. I went to Boston College with the intention of exploring a career outside the family catering and venue business, but instead ended up working for The Lantana full-time when I graduated in 1986. Being the youngest child, I was surprised when ten years (and lots of hard work) later the opportunity presented itself to buy out the rest of the family. I’ve been the CEO for the past twenty-one years, but could not do it without the help of a fantastic and dedicated team. We’ve grown from a “mom and pop” operation to a professionalized organization with managers and job descriptions and all that fun stuff. Many of my senior managers grew along with me and the business, having started as part-time servers and progressed up through the ranks of the organization. Over half of my current team has been with the business for over 20 years, not many businesses can say that. This is a relationship business, people trust us with some of the most important moments of their lives – weddings, baby showers, proms, birthdays. We take that responsibility very seriously and have a track-record of delivering exceptional service.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a relatively smooth road, or as smooth of a road as possible considering the inherent challenges of a family business! My parents paved the way through their hard work and reputation. Our marketing has been mainly word-of-mouth and referral and we’ve been successful at that. It’s still our number one form of advertising. Satisfied customers tell their friends and that leads to more satisfied customers. We’re extremely proud of the reputation we’ve built.
Sometimes the turnover in staff that comes with being in the food industry can be a little difficult, but I always look at that as an opportunity. Our Executive Chef Tony was our Sous Chef. We gave him the opportunity to become The Executive Chef and he’s the best one we’ve ever had. He has really stepped up. There are a lot of stories like that at The Lantana, people like Esther (our wedding guru) started as a part-time server. Colleen also started as a server and now manages the venue. As the owner seeing people progress is the most rewarding thing, it’s seeing these people come in and not know what they are capable of doing and The Lantana brings out the best in them.
Please tell us about The Lantana.
For more than four decades, our family-owned business has been dedicated to serving the unique needs of our customers through creative customization, an unwavering attention to detail, and a renowned culinary menu. The Lantana serves as the perfect venue to host all types of exceptional events and helps to create lasting, unforgettable memories.
Our modern, elegant décor establishes the perfect atmosphere for any affair – corporate meetings, weddings, trade shows, and social gatherings – and our talented team works with you to make your wish our top priority. The Lantana provides all our Boston area clients a true celebration experience. Our facilities boast more than 40,000 sq. ft. of beautiful event space, a dazzling Grand Ballroom, ample complimentary parking and a convenient South Shore location, nestled right off the highway.
When we opened the doors in 1971 we were mainly a weekend social & wedding business venue. Here we are 46 years later. The competition for weddings is great. So many more venues, restaurants even destination weddings going on now that we’ve diversified to 60% corporate meetings, trade shows and seminars. Back when we first opened, we were 90% weddings, weddings are only 30% of our business now. Diversifying has been a challenge but it’s because of our location, and our mission and vision that this is the direction we went in.
What sets us apart from the others is that we don’t have turnover here. We have a very flat organization and one layer of management, which allows me to stay close to the customers. I have an empowered team – you go to some of these hotels or country clubs – the staff turns over constantly. The person who is booking the weddings may not be the same person helping you on the day of your event when you are stressed-out and hoping it all goes well…at The Lantana it will be. Our dedication to offering a diverse menu with plenty of choices, the quality and freshness of our food, along with creative customization, an unwavering attention to detail, and an eye for presentation sets us apart. We set a high bar for the competition – consistent excellence in event execution is something we are very proud of and ranking on The Knot and Yelp reflect that. We’re actually in The Knot’s Hall of Fame! We manage to pull off flawless events time after time, year after year. Our recipe of listening to our guests and understanding their needs has worked for over 45 years (and counting).
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory was going fishing with my father. That’s how I got hooked on fishing. My father started the tradition of taking his employees out on the boat back in the 60s and 70s. I continued that tradition to this day. I take my staff out annually from various departments including set-up, kitchen and office employees. We go out boating and fishing, enjoy whale watching and then cocktails. I love sharing that experience with my team, I call it “water therapy”.
- Address: 43 Scanlon Drive
Randolph, MA 02368
- Website: www.TheLantana.com
- Phone: 781-961-4660
- Email: Info@thelantana.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/thelantana/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/LantanaMA/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLantanaMA/
- Other: https://www.flipsnack.com/visionsforever/the-lantana-wedding-magazine.html