We have had a remarkable year. Here are some photos that embrace what we are thankful for including musicians, guests, holidays, events and more.
Recently, the Hotel Pattee has been named the recipient of two awards. The first came from the State of Iowa’s Tourism Office/Iowa Economic Development Authority, and that was the “Outstanding Lodging Award.” Our second, and most recent, was the Visitor Choice Award given by the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau for “Hotel of the Year.”
For those of you who know me, I am not one to boast. I still pinch myself every day when I walk into this beautiful historic hotel that is the heartbeat of this community and region. My family is more than blessed to be residents of Perry and fortunate to hold the keys and responsibility of representing Perry as the caretaker of this iconic property.
With that said, these two awards belong first and foremost to our team of great employees who show up every day and deliver the quality and service that we, as owners, expect. I have told our team from day one that this building is strictly “bricks and mortar,” but it is up to us as a service team to deliver memorable experiences for our customers and hotel guests. To say the least, they have not let us down. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely, we do. The key is that we aim to correct our slip-ups and make things right if we have let someone down.
When we were presented these awards, my other immediate thought was how proud I am to represent Perry! Please understand that we visited Perry three years ago to look at the Hotel, as it was for sale at that time. We immediately recognized a sense of ownership and pride amongst the residents of Perry with regards to the Hotel Pattee. These two awards belong to Perry! Thank you for standing behind us and for your ongoing support.
We work very hard each and every day to serve you, our loyal customers. We do it because we love hospitality and we want to create great memories for our guests. My goal is to be here for years to come as we continue to grow our business and yet, still raise the bar when it comes to our service level.
Thank you to our team, our guests and our community. Without you, the Hotel Pattee would be just another historic hotel. But with you, we are a thriving and proud iconic gem!
Photo Credit: Jay and Denise Hartz receiving award. Courtesy of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau"
Q&A with Chef Ben Ferguson
What is your favorite dish to cook and what is you favorite dish to eat?
My favorite dish to make is ratatouille. Ratatouille is a stew of zucchini, squash, peppers and tomato. I enjoy cooking this because it involves all fresh ingredients and is a great way to capture their amazing flavors. of the fresh ingredients. My favorite dish I have ever eaten in Des Moines is the duck at Abla. It is out of this world. The perfect mix of sweet, salty, fatty, crunchy. It is amazing.
What is something nobody knows about you that they probably should? Something that many people do not know about me is that I know how to play the bagpipes. My family is original from Scotland and I thought it would be a great way to pay homage to my relatives by learning to play bag pipes.
What is the most important thing you learned at the DMACC Culinary Institute? The most important thing or I should say most memorable thing I remember from DMACC is a conversation I had with my instructor Chef Lori Dowey. I remember at one of the many gourmet meals DMACC held, I had been preparing the food and Chef Dowey came over to talk to me. I had been there all day working my fingers to the bone and was exhausted. She looked at me and said “Stop taking this cooking thing so seriously.” I did not understand what she meant at the time because it was a huge deal to me. But now I can say I understand what she means. In all seriousness preparing food is not the end of the world; if something does not turn out the way it is supposed to, there is always another way to fix it.
What are you looking forward the most as Executive Chef at the Hotel Pattee? I am looking forward to working with the community in Perry. As the Executive Chef at Hotel Pattee, I will have a great opportunity to work with the community to drum up support for the community and the hotel.
What was the inspiration for the Lit By the Sun meal for this Sunday? My inspiration for this Lit by the Sun menu was southern cooking. Being that the artist is from Nashville I found it fitting to feature menu items from his neck of the woods. Southern food features amazing amount of flavor and a lot of soul. Down south a major ingredients is love in their cooking and it shows through.
What are your main influences for becoming a Chef? My main influences for being a chef are my family and my desire to give it my all. In this position I find that there are massive amounts of opportunity to give 110% and still more. Being in the kitchen is an amazing feeling. A favorite quote of mine is translated from a French proverb, “to your kitchen, facing your oven’s inferno, I sometimes discover paradise on Earth.”
We would like to congratulate Jay, Denise and all the Hartz Family on the one year anniversary of becoming the owners of the Hotel Pattee. You will rarely see Jay or Denise Hartz sitting still for any length of time. We were able to get quick moment for Jay to answer a few questions about the Hotel Pattee and his experience.
You might be amazed at how many of our guests ask “What local products do you serve?” Whether these customers are from Iowa or from outside the state, this question comes up on a regular and consistent basis.
The great news is that we can answer that question with great pride as we have sought out and continue to seek vendors of all sorts from this great State to provide us with their products. This includes Prairieland Herbs, Picket Fence Creamery, Angie’s Tea Garden, LaMie Bakery, Graziano Brothers, Sun Gold Farms out of Paton, and Beaver Creek Farms out of Berkley, IA.
If you enjoy a good local brew, you will now find Peace Tree Brewing Co. products in our establishment. An award winning brewery out of Knoxville IA, Peace Tree has some awesome beer selections.
I had the opportunity to meet Dan McKay, the owner of Peace Tree last June at the BACoon Ride, and was not only intrigued with his passion for brewing, but also cycling.
We were seeking a local/regional brewer to add to our beer selection and Peace Tree was the answer. It was at that time that Dan and I discussed having an event at the Hotel Pattee to focus on pairing great food with his great assortment of beers. (Our October 3rd event has been cancelled, watch for future events.)
Want more details on Peace Tree Brewing?
Go to their website: http://www.peacetreebrewing.com/
One trend that I have witnessed over the last several years, is a decline in the number of organizations hosting Holiday Parties.
I have probably heard almost all of the reasons why a company does not host a Holiday Party. Some examples include:
From my personal experience, I have enjoyed attending Holiday Parties over the years when working for various hotel firms. They have been an opportunity to visit with my co-workers “outside” of work and also possibly meet their significant other whom my co-worker may talk a lot about during our time at the office. For many years, it was a night that Denise and I looked forward to as a special “night out on the town.” This was particularly true when our kids where small and we didn’t go out very much to socialize with other adults.
The Holiday Parties that I have attended gave me a sense of pride knowing that my employer cared enough to spend a few bucks to “treat” his/her staff for a night of fun and relaxation. The end result: I felt appreciated and my morale was boosted.
Are you the decision maker when it comes to whether or not your company/organization will hold a party this year? Do any of the reasons mentioned above sound familiar to you? If so, I’d like to offer my insight.
Hosting a Holiday party can fit into your budget. Many places offer dinners in the $14+ range with lunches or a breakfast being even more affordable.
If you are concerned about liquor liability, that is totally a legitimate worry. Solution: Host a Cash Bar. Even better, choose a hotel that offers group rates to encourage your team to spend the night.
Do you have a small office? Well, host a very informal luncheon or dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. The other option is to host a party at your home. For years, the dentist that Denise worked for did just that, and we have some great memories.
Don’t have anybody to plan the event for you? Choose a venue that will do the planning for you. Simply present a budget of what you want to spend and put the ball in their court. A professional Event Planner will come back to you with several options to choose from. It is that easy!
Many years ago, I had the privilege of reading a book titled “Build the Fort Today” By Jim Kerns. I can’t find my copy, but I remember the book being about how appreciating the people in your life and accepting people for who they are. Nobody is perfect. I also believe that the title of the book had to do with a story of a Dad who kept on postponing the construction of a Fort with his son in their backyard. Weeks and weeks had gone by. Finally, the father promised his son that “Tonight” would be the night that they would construct the fort. The child, filled with so much joy and excitement, was on his way home from school that afternoon, and forgot about safety measures with regards to crossing the street. He was struck and killed by a car. The Father and Son never had the chance to fulfill that child’s dream.
(Mr. Kerns, I apologize if I am paraphrasing and/or missed details.)
Two weeks ago, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I was laying in my hammock on our back porch. It was a quiet and peaceful day until I started hearing some hamming and sawing. I asked myself, “What is going on?”
It was my neighbor and his young daughter building a fort in their backyard. Of all things: A Fort. It was great to see this in action. The teamwork of a father and a daughter was so awesome to observe. The excitement in her voice as she told her father her plans for this newly built structure. The patience that this father had with his daughter as he explained the reasoning behind why he was constructing the fort like he was.
My mind soon drifted back to the book “Build the Fort Today.” I am probably the last one to preach advice about making priorities with my family. For me, it is a constant work in progress.
I got to thinking about how I had cancelled two trips to visit my ill and aging father who now lives in a nursing home in Florida. I asked myself, “Can I really leave the hotel for 4 days? Will things run smoothly without me there? Can I afford the airplane ticket?” My conclusion was YES to all of the above!
As I write this blog, I am literally in Florida visiting my so precious Dad who is the classiest and most honorable man I have and will ever know. I would not be here today if it wasn't for the unconditional love and blessings that he and my mother bestowed upon me.
So I ask you, what “Fort” are you putting off? Have you asked yourself why?
When is the last time you took your significant other or child on a little adventure to spend quality time and create lifelong memories?
Well, I would like to do my part to help you pull the trigger and come stay at The Hotel Pattee. Let’s remove “Affordability” from the equation.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and put FORT in the Subject line.
Let me know the day(s) that you would like to book a room.
Note, these are not valid with any other discounts or special events.
Book your reservation via email to me no later than 8/31/14, and you can make that reservation for any dates through 12/30/14.
Build your FORT today and you will have no regrets.
Since we re-opened the Hotel Pattee in November of 2013, we have started a new tradition of preparing complimentary freshly baked chocolate chip cookies for our guests each night. At or around 9:30 PM we place a tray of cookies on both the 2nd and 3rd floor landing. The response has been overwhelming, and the feedback wonderful. I mean, who doesn’t like a fresh out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie right before bedtime? Particularly, if you don’t have to bake it!
I decided early on that it would be fun to sponsor a Cookie Baking Contest at the Iowa State Fair, and luckily, they allowed us to sponsor our first Hotel Pattee Cookie Contest. My thought was that the winning recipe would be our complimentary fresh baked cookies for the Hotel Pattee Guests until next year’s fair.
I based the criteria of the contest on three factors: Taste, ease of preparation and appearance. Taste and ease of preparation were equally rated at 45% each with appearance weighing in at 10%.
The response for the contest was awesome. We had over 30 entries and it was a very, very difficult job picking the best cookie. Sure, it was fun eating all of these great treats and there truly was not a bad cookie in the bunch. The amount of time, effort and dedication that each contestant put into this competition was very evident. Thank you to all of the contestants for entering this competition.
The winning Snicker-doodle recipe prepared by Jan Trometer of Jamaica, IA is a “Champion of Cookies”. It hit all of the key components we were looking for. With regards to taste, it was moist, chewy, and flavorful with the perfect hint of cinnamon to top it off. Ease of preparation will be ideal in our environment and the presentation of the cookie is more than appetizing.
Hats off to Susie Jones of Waukee who earned second place. Karen Steggerda of Urbandale who received third place, and Diane Schlegel of Bouton who was awarded an honorable mention.
Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank Vicki Lage for helping me judge the contest. She is truly a classy lady who helped me make the best decisions possible with regards to picking the “Cookie of the Year” for the Hotel Pattee. Guests can look forward to enjoying the winning cookie at or around the 1st of September. I am more than confident that they will LOVE these Snicker-doodles!
One of my best friends and former boss is Chris Mayer. He is the President of Sun Development based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Please allow me to give you a little history on our past. Chris and I were both born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and we both worked in the Restaurant/Hospitality Industry our whole lives. The funny thing is, up until the time I interviewed with Chris several years ago, he and I had never met. This little fact was very interesting to both of us because the hospitality industry as a whole is a rather small community, particularly in a city the size if St. Louis. In short, everybody tends to know everybody!
Chris and I worked very well together for the almost 2 years that I was employed as the VP of Sales at Sun Development. We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time on the road together as we oversaw 36+ hotel properties in the USA. When you work with somebody as much and as closely as Chris and I did, you had better hope you get along with that person. Well, to say the least, we became best of friends. We are so close that we refer to each other as “My brother from another mother!”
We learned a lot from each other with regards to business philosophies, selling skills, and even the stock market. One of Chris’s favorite sayings was “Stick to your knitting.” He would refer to this saying on several instances. One that comes to mind would be when one of our Sales Directors would find themselves not spending time selling. They were hired to “sell” and might drift off doing other tasks that was not related to producing revenue or selling. It would be at that time Chris would say “You need to stick to your knitting.”
Knowing a little about this history is important as I explain the journey and path that I have taken our brand “Pattee Cakes.”
Each week, I spend several hours out of the office knocking on doors of businesses in the Des Moines Region with the goal of introducing myself and the Hotel Pattee. Depending on who I meet and what they are interested in, we’ll talk about one or more of the services that the Hotel Pattee offers from overnight accommodations, to hosting a meeting here at the hotel or letting us bring a catered meal to their office or location.
Meeting with potential clients and existing clients in their office environment is truly one of the best parts of my job. It is so much fun to meet new people and talk about their industry and how we might be of service.
Someday, I will write a blog about back when I first started in hotel sales; how petrified and scared I was to go knock on doors of area businesses. I know that may be hard to believe, but more on that another time…..
At any rate, we started free delivery of outside catering because I found more and more potential clients suggesting that we expand into offering this service. Thankfully, we are building this arm of our business.
The constant message I have heard all along from the majority of businesses is that there are not enough great catering options from which to choose. I will be honest that this shocked me! You have to understand that I call on clients in a wide geographical area including Panora, Jefferson, Boone, Adel, Waukee, Urbandale, West DesMoines, Grimes, etc. This is a big area, and yet I still hear this consistent message.
After doing a little more research by asking questions of our clients and potential clients, I’ve come up with 5 tips on what one should consider when choosing an outside caterer:
1. Homework. Do your homework and ask your caterer for references. Equally important, contact the references and ask key questions to verify important factor such as punctuality, quality of food & beverage, following through on promises, etc.
2. Verify. Confirm and verify that the caterer prepares meals out of a kitchen that has been inspected and approved by the IA Dept. of Inspections & Appeals. In addition, ask for a certificate of insurance to prove proper liability coverage including workers comp insurance. Too often, I have observed caterers who work out of their “non-inspected” home kitchen and do not carry the proper insurance. Both of these are critical to protecting your guests and your company from unnecessary liabilities.
3. Price. When shopping for a caterer to host your next event, I advise to not strictly make your decision based on price. The quality and quantity of food products and ingredients can widely vary between vendors. Often times, it is difficult to truly compare “apples to apples” when evaluating menus and price points between multiple caterers. As an example, many menus might include desserts and beverages, while another caterers menu may not. My recommendation is to draw up a menu that you want and have your selected potential caterers price it out for bid. This way, you are 100% sure that you can equally compare competitor A to competitor B.
4. Fine Print. Read the fine print and fully understand all potential charges when choosing a Caterer. Specific areas to be cautious about include delivery fees, set up fees, gratuity, and if disposable plates, napkins, and eating utensils are included.
5. Pick Two. My recommendation is simply this. Once you’ve worked through the 4 tips above, ideally have two caterers who you like, trust and would recommend to your best friend. This gives you and your guests’ options with regards to food preparation styles, but also gives you a backup in case your #1 caterer can’t accommodate your upcoming event. i.e. already booked.
So there you have it! In closing, remember that choosing the right caterer is a reflection on you. Pick a caterer who is equally concerned with their reputation. Make an educated decision and follow through on the 5 steps above, and you will be a STAR! Until next time, we’ll see you at the hotel or onsite at your next event!