Closing the Deal
Barn at Bay Horse Inn Partners With Ritz Charles to Bring Popular Catering Services to the Southside
Photography Provided by Amy Counts Photography
Since its opening in August 2016, the Barn at Bay Horse has shattered sales expectations for owner Amanda Cottingham. For a third consecutive year, the event center already has 75 weddings and events scheduled, putting the venue on track to become one of the busiest event centers in Central Indiana.
Just when it would seem things couldn’t possibly get better, an exclusive opportunity emerged. Ritz Charles, a premier event venue in Carmel with catering services, has become the sole operator of food and beverage service at the Barn at Bay Horse Inn, effective January 1, 2019.
The partnership was forged partially by chance, and partially by design. In 2018, Cottingham happened to meet Ritz Charles owners Bill Nicholls and Mark Safranek. The Ritz owners were looking to expand the presence of their catering company to Indy’s southside, specifically to Greenwood. Making the southside ties even stronger, the company’s executive chef, Warren Myklos, lives in the Center Grove area. As the Greenwood community and Center Grove area have grown, it’s become a prime area for Ritz Charles to expand. Nicholls says the partnership was facilitated by the caterer’s goal to become a part of the Greenwood community and their desire to join forces with an event center that has The Barn at Bay Horse’s first-class reputation.
In the short time since opening, Cottingham has built and maintained the venue’s reputation on being the go-to venue for all occasions, and the number of events held at the venue has surpassed what she and her staff ever imagined.
“But the reason for that is not a surprise to me and my staff,” she says. “As we have become busier and busier over the last two years, we’ve only worked harder for our guests. We wanted to be the premier location for weddings and events on the southside of Indianapolis, and that’s what we work towards every single day. The success is a result of the dedicated work we put into this place.”
Cottingham says building the venue’s reputation starts with the first moment of contact with a customer.
“People remember everything from the way we answer the phone the first time they call with questions about our facility, to the time we provide during a tour, all the way to the attention to detail and service we provide on the day of a wedding or an event.”
The Ritz Charles has built its reputation the same way. Opening in the 1980s in a beautiful 15,000 square feet facility off Meridian Street in Carmel, the caterer quickly became a premier event venue for weddings, fundraisers and corporate gatherings. But the Ritz didn’t limit its services to its four walls. They offered catering services to venues across the city even going into private homes for personal parties.
Although the Ritz and the Barn at Bay Horse Inn are already successful independently, the partnership made perfect sense. Cottingham says that since her venue is relatively new, they’re always considering proposals or strategizing new ideas to make their guest’s experiences memorable.
“I hear a lot of suggestions or ideas, some of which we have entertained and discussed how that would look for the Barn at Bay Horse Inn,” she says. “When we sat down with The Ritz and had that serious discussion, The Ritz was that difference, to me and my staff. This partnership is about all the things The Ritz Charles could provide. The quality of service, the reputation, the experience of the staff and the brand itself is something we couldn’t ignore.”
The timing was right too.
“We’re at a point where we feel comfortable in the number of events and weddings we host that allowing a household name like the Ritz Charles to come in and handle food and beverage operations was needed,” Cottingham adds. “Rather than continuing to offer a list of preferred caterers, we felt it was time to have an exclusive provider. This is the next step in our growth, and we are very lucky that the Ritz just so happened to be interested in developing a presence on the southside of Indianapolis. We’re also very fortunate that the Ritz didn’t want to come in and change things about our operations, reshape the wheel and step on toes. They want to become part of the fabric of this community.”
Having an exclusive caterer will bring about some welcome changes in operations at the Barn at Bay Horse. For the staff, it means streamlining the ordering process so they can focus on booking events. For guests, they’ll see more options in The Ritz’s menu which offers a wide selection.
“The Ritz offers far more than the typical wedding dinner of chicken or beef,” Cottingham says. “This partnership with The Ritz also allows us to offer options from their subsidiary, Simply Served, which also has a wide menu selection. This service is a cost-effective option ensuring that we continue to be a venue where guests at all budget levels can celebrate their special day. So, no matter which option our guests choose, they’re still getting the Ritz Charles experience. All guests who visit our venue, no matter the occasion, will continue to receive consistent, quality hospitality.”
In addition to The Ritz Charles menu, Barn at Bay Horse will also continue to offer options from local caterer Smokehouse BBQ.
“Smokehouse BBQ is pretty popular,” Cottingham says. “So, we’re very thrilled that the Ritz will allow that option to remain on the menu.”
While weddings are a big part of the fabric at The Barn at Bay Horse Inn, the venue is host to a variety of events.
“A lot of people are still learning about the Barn at Bay Horse outside of the scope of a wedding and event center on a grand scale,” Cottingham says. “We pride ourselves on those large events and weddings, but we also have a variety of small gatherings.”
Barn at Bay Horse also hosts many non-profit events through local organizations and clubs. Cottingham encourages all Greenwood residents to come out to some of their smaller events.
Call The Barn at Bay Horse Inn at 317-760-8778 to plan your wedding or next big event. Visit them online at barnatbayhorse.com for more information. The Barn at Bay Horse Inn is located at 1468 West Stones Crossing Road in Greenwood.