A different tack

SHARED VISION: Chef Dan Wright and Loretta Woolley are joining forces to create memorable food and events in the upstairs banquet space at Loretta’s Café. Photo by Toni Sherwood

“We want to steal the show,” Loretta Woolley says of her new endeavor: a designated catering team at Loretta’s Café. With Chef Daniel Wright as director of catering she hopes to make this a thriving enterprise. “You need a good team to do the things you want to do,” Woolley says.

Woolley, owner of both Mayfel’s and Loretta’s Cafe, is realizing she must delegate and manage more. “Balance is important; it used to be all I did was work,” Woolley says, having taken the previous day off to celebrate her 34-year wedding anniversary.

Wright, the 2013 WNC Chefs Challenge winner, says he had many offers before his final day at Tomato Jam Café in December. Some were far more lucrative. What sold him on Loretta’s was a connection he and Woolley share with food and philosophy. “We eat to be together and tell stories,” Wright says. “There are very few times that people get together without food involved.”

Woolley agrees. “Daniel and I have similar culinary leanings. We both like good flavors and feel that food should be fun and enjoyed with people.” 

The catering team plans to host parties, weddings, performances and charitable dinners — you name it. The caterers will service events anywhere, but are especially excited about using the event space above Loretta’s Café.

The building at 114 N. Lexington Ave. spans the block between Broadway and Lexington, with entrances from both streets. Woolley wants to create an intimate feeling in the 2,000-square-foot space on the top level. With its warm wood floors, exposed ductwork and 20-foot ceilings, there’s lots of potential. An elevator is available from the Broadway entrance, and there’s plenty of parking in the area, including a privately run lot across Lexington.

The space can host a buffet or cocktail party of 100, and a sit-down dinner for 50 to 60. It also makes for an intimate performance venue. Woolley says she has hosted events there in the past, such as Drag Queen Bingo with Brother Wolf.

Both Wright and Woolley envision their relationship as more of a partnership. “I look at it from a business aspect,” Wright says. “I want to help someone with a vision they have and make it my own.” Woolley agrees. “Taking ownership goes a long way.”

Wright prides himself on taking a business to the top, as he did with his team at Tomato Jam in the WNC Chefs Challenge. For his catering business, the client will come first. “I like being part of people’s memories, I want my food to be a memorable experience.”

Loretta’s Café and event space is at 114 N. Lexington Ave.  lorettascafe.com

— writi


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