Forest Lodge, located on 50 pristine rustic acres in Warren Township, is celebrating their 88th year in the community. What started out as a summer family and friends retreat in the 1930s has evolved into one of New Jersey’s largest and most creative event venues.
Linda Taylor, vice president of the facility for over 30 years, is involved in all aspects of the event planning and considers it her specialty. “The most important thing we can do is listen and get to know each one of our clients so their ideas are executed to perfection,” she said.
Owners Charlie and Maria Alberto of Watchung, along with Linda and their new general manager Brian Howard, have successfully made Forest Lodge one of NJ and NY’s most sought-after venues. Every event is tailored to their clients’ needs, including custom menus and themes. Do you want to feel like you’re in New Orleans at Mardi Gras? If so, you and your guests can enjoy steaming hot Jambalaya and Shrimp Creole while the jester, jazz band and full size float turn Forest Lodge into Bourbon Street!! Is Vegas more your style? Then you will find yourself surrounded by casino games and hourly shows featuring magicians, dancers, ventriloquists and other performers. Or how about a country and western theme with a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, and a pumpkin patch? One of their most popular themes is the Jersey boardwalk, with carnival games, rides, inflatables, and a zeppole trailer full of funnel cake, fried Oreos, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
In addition to theme parties, Forest Lodge is famous for corporate events such as company picnics, team building, seminars and meetings, as well as corporate social responsibility programs which assist employees with giving back to their communities.
Helping clients plan their special occasions is something Linda takes pride in. Since the outdoor venue can accommodate up to 5000 people, every detail has to be carefully thought out and executed.
In addition to all the outdoor events, The newly renovated Sherwood Chalet hosts elegant indoor events such as weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and holiday parties and can hold up to 200 people. Scott Dubin, in the role of banquet manager, has added a youthful perspective while making use of his years of experience in the hospitality industry.
Whether you prefer an elegant, formal sit-down dinner or a sumptuous buffet, they can fulfill your wish. One of the most popular client choices is their interactive live stations package, offering foods from all over the world including Asian Stir Fry, good old American Mac and Cheese and Indian cuisine.
If you can’t decide between an indoor or outdoor event, The Sherwood Chalet with its outdoor deck and patio can offer a combination of the two. Towards the end of the night at one wedding, they had food trucks with pizza, tacos, and ice cream parked right outside the doors. Also, at a bar mitzvah, the host was able to entertain their young guests with inflatables, rides and an exciting roller coaster!
The Sherwood Chalet hosts only one event at a time so you can be sure that their professional staff is interested in you and only you. It’s a unique place to have a party or event and ideas are only limited by imaginations. For instance, Linda recalled how one wedding had a horse for a ring bearer; another had a “Dog of Honor,” and a bar mitzvah had a live “mermaid” behind the seafood bar.
Forest Lodge is open year-round and all catering is done on the premises. The venue is a first job for many of the local kids since they hire 125 to 150 part-time employees for the summer months. Many of these teens work there through college.
Due to the popularity of their venue, Linda recommends scheduling parties one year in advance, if possible.
Forest Lodge is located at 11 Reinman Road in Warren, NJ. To find out more, go to http://www.forestlodgecatering.com/ or call 908-754-7300.
Written for The Showcase Magazine