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VOL. 36 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 07, 2012

Sumner County venues step up

By Linda Bryant

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EPIC event space in Gallatin.

Christopher and Brenda Newton, longtime Sumner County caterers, were expecting solid business when they opened EPIC Event Centre in Gallatin last year. The culinary couple knew from experience that Sumner County lacked spaces for large parties and events.

But business has been more than good since the venue opened in March 2011.

“It was just great from the beginning,” Brenda Newton says. “Now it’s to the point where people have to book pretty far in advance.”

The Newtons tucked money away for years and kept their eye out for a location with enough space to accommodate large groups. It all came together when a 30,000-square-foot industrial property was put on the market on West Main Street.

“We planned for 10 years,” Brenda Newton says. “People would call us and ask about spaces for 200-300 people or more, and there just weren’t any. Many of our residents ended up booking venues in Davidson County.

“When we saw the property, we knew we were going to do whatever we had to do to buy it and make things happen,” Newton adds.

EPIC Event Center has four ballrooms, a 15,000-square-foot courtyard and can accommodate parties from 20-800. The smallest room rents for $300 per event, while larger spaces average around $800-$2,000. The Newtons also offer on-site catering, usually ranging from $10 to $50 per person.

Paige Brown, executive director of the Gallatin Chamber of Commerce, says the Newtons are admired in Sumner County for their hard work and business acumen.

“It’s true that there was a large gap in the market here,” Brown says. “Historically, many people would just go to Nashville. It’s been fun to watch the Newtons grow the business. They are proving that you can have great success when you identify a need, fill it and then follow it up with great customer service.”

Brown says the buzz created by EPIC caused a ripple effect in the area.

“Since they opened, several other venues have flourished,” she says, adding that special events held at several of Sumner County’s historic mansions are not only burgeoning, they are highly affordable.

For example, Historic Rose Mont, a circa-1830 pre-Civil War mansion on South Water Street in Gallatin, charges $75 an hour for small parties and meetings, while daily rental of the house and grounds is $500.

Gallatin Civic Center, another venue experiencing an uptick in bookings for small private parties, rents rooms for $20-$30 an hour.

County residents are increasingly in a mood to party, Newton says.

“There are just a lot of social events going on, from corporate to non-profit to family parties,” she explains.

“It’s been going on for a couple of years but is gaining momentum. People aren’t as unsure as they were a few years ago. They are spending money on the extras and even hiring music, bands and DJs for their parties.”