If you’ve not yet been to a Gables at Chadds Ford beer garden, then here’s your incentive: Carol Lowe’s tambourine dance. Make that a dance with a lighted tambourine. And although the beer garden may be seasonal, Carol’s joie de vivre knows no seasons, so — if we’re lucky — she’ll bust out the tambourine at other special events throughout the year.
“It’s really a silly thing that’s become a thing,” Carol said of her playing along to at least one song — preferably Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” “It just sort of happened that I’d request the song, and then get up and get going when it came on. One day, our owner, Ann Kolenick, showed up with a lighted tambourine for me. The rest is history.”
Ann coming up with ideas and Carol agreeing is how she became our assistant event coordinator and front-of-the-house manager. Carol’s son, CJ, worked here for seven years starting in high school and through college, so Carol came to know Ann. One day, Ann asked CJ, “Your mom is really friendly and outgoing; maybe she’d like to work here?” Like the tambourine, the rest was history.
“I loved the idea and said yes. My other job is as executive director of the nonprofit New Life Youth & Family Services in West Chester, so this is very different,” Carol explained. “My other job is very intense; it feels good to deliver some happy at The Gables.”
Carol describes her role as “everybody’s Girl Friday” — she’s there when they need help. As assistant event coordinator, she handles decor, or as she likes to put it, “executes dreams within budget.” She’s also the on-site person during events to support the banquet captain, and to take care of the little things that are a big deal to our clients.
“The devil’s in the details,” she said. “A good example is one bride left her locket in the bathroom, so I retrieved it for her just in time for the ceremony. Another forgot to have the shoes she was going to wear during the reception waiting at her seat; I took care of it. I’m here to help smooth everything over.”
As front-of-the-house manager, Carol coordinates with the executive chef and back of the house to assure diners’ exceptions are not only met, but exceeded.
“I circulate around and chat with our guests, and sometimes they need a little extra attention,” she added. “Maybe a dish needs tweaking or they have some feedback. I take care of that and relay information back to the chef. I really love talking to our guests — they’re wonderful people.”
The obvious question is: How does Carol do it all? “I don’t sleep,” she joked. “My day starts at 4:30 a.m. And I’m a good scheduler, so I can give both jobs my best.”
As for her personal best, Carol names her kids as her proudest accomplishments. CJ is now in pharmacy school at the University of Mississippi. Her daughter, Chelsea, lives in Alabama and is a fashion blogger in the hospitality industry.
Back home, husband Carl is a track and football coach at Kennett High School. And we must not forget her Maltese-schnauzer, Cassidy, and her Maltese, Coconut.
Carol’s other claim to fame? “I’m from Mississippi!”
When she’s not at her two jobs, Carol loves watching football. She’s a New Orleans Saints fan and warns, “The South will rise again! Go Saints!”
Carol is as much a Gables fan as she is a Saints fan. “It’s a truly fun experience. We’re more than just a restaurant; it’s a family endeavor. It starts at the top: Ann is kind and understanding, and that makes it a place where people want to work and eat. Come see us!”
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.
Photos: The Gables at Chadds Ford