Patrick Carlisle was fresh out of high school when he came to Newberry Hall.
He worked as a dishwasher, as a server; he did anything that was needed of him, said Samantha Caniglia, event coordinator.
Now, more than 10 years later, he serves as Newberry Hall’s banquet manager.
“When I saw the potential in Newberry, when I knew it was going to be a successful business, I stayed with it,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle has been with current owners Maggie and David Sacks since their start in 2002, he said.
Through the efforts of the Sackses, Carlisle and the staff, Newberry Hall caters events within its Anderson or Henderson Rooms or out in the community.
They can host wedding receptions, family reunions, corporate events out at Rye Patch in Hopeland Gardens, Aiken County Historical Museum and churches; the list goes on, according to the hall’s website.
Newberry Hall has also hosted some of its own events such as New Year’s parties and collaborating with nonprofit agencies, Sacks said.
Three chefs and 15 to 20 caterers are always on staff, Sacks said.
The menu changes per event.
“The chefs all adapt to whatever the customer wants,” Sacks said.
Popular items include the prime rib, beef tenderloin and craisin cookies – oatmeal cookies made with cranberries.
However, there are also cheese puffs, dips such as artichoke dip, fresh fruit display, honey baked ham, sushi bar and shrimp and grits. More menu suggestions can be found online.
Newberry Hall has a full-service kitchen to prepare all of its food fresh, Caniglia said.
To help man that kitchen, Newberry Hall sometimes seek the help of the Aiken High School culinary program.
“We try to get people who are interested in the program,” Caniglia said.
Recent Aiken High graduate Tom Diehl came to Newberry Hall from the project more than three years ago.
Diehl said, as he breaded up some chicken, it has been fun working at Newberry. Some events he mentioned working for have involved politicians.
“It’s neat to cook for them,” he said.
According to Caniglia, Diehl plans on joining the Newberry Hall staff as a full-time employee.
Five employees have also undergone ServSafe training, a national program that emphasizes food safety, Carlisle pointed out.
In 1997, Sam Erb of the West Side Bowery opened Newberry Hall with one room and a courtyard. At the time, it still had a catering service.
“Usually someone planning a wedding would hire a caterer, then find a place for the party,” Jay Crump, the banquet manager at the time, told the Aiken Standard in September 1997. “But once you hire us as caterers, there is no extra charge to use the facility.”
In 2002, Erb convinced his sister Maggie and her husband David to take over Newberry Hall.
“He had been trying to get us to buy it for several years,” David said.
David’s work at the time was making him travel a lot. Add that to the fact that Erb was threatening to shut Newberry Hall down, and the couple decided it was time to take on the new venue.
They had no professional food experience but did have business experience, David said.
“We gradually built it up to what it is now,” he said.
In 2006, they added on 4,620 square feet to the building, the Aiken Standard reported.
“It went from seating 110 to 250,” Caniglia said.
There is also a patio that looks “cool at night with the crepe myrtles and the lights,” Carlisle said.
The two main rooms can also be combined to form one ballroom, Caniglia said.
The only time the couple isn’t busy is in July, David said.
Even then, organizations like Rotary Club and Aiken Newcomers hold their regular meetings at the hall.
“I think this is our future here. I think this is what we wanted to get to,” Maggie Sacks said in a video posted on the website.
A lot of the staff, like Carlisle, has been with the Sacks for a long time, David said.
Carlisle sees the Sacks as modest and down-to-earth people, noting that Maggie helps out in the community and her church.
“David and Maggie invest so much in their employees,” Caniglia added, who has worked at Newberry for six years.
For those interested in booking Newberry Hall, you can check your date online to see if it’s available.
The dining facility is located at 117 Newberry St. S.W.