• Meet Mark Ryan, Robert Ryan Catering and Design

    FROM THE Winter 2018 ISSUE

    Mark Ryan makes is mark and takes the lead at Robert Ryan Catering and Design.

Some fathers teach their sons how to catch a ball or bait a hook, but Robert Ryan, founder of Robert Ryan Catering and Design, taught his son how to run a business. Bob Ryan started his eponymous catering business 25 years ago from a small office in his home. “I was in high school when he started, so I was with him along the way,” says Mark Ryan, now chef and owner. 

Robert Ryan Catering and Design has indeed grown since then, now serving as a “one-stop shop and full-service caterer at three unique and historic venues.” 

Those venues include Columbia Station, a restored railroad station dating back to 1858, the fully-restored 18th century-era Barn on Bridge, and the feather in their cap, the Philander Chase Knox Estate. Robert Ryan Catering, in partnership with Chris Caba of Party Center, has an exclusive 10-year lease with the National Parks Service on this historic estate tucked inside Valley Forge National Park. The team has made significant improvements to the building, including a removable raised patio that allows the original historic patio to remain unharmed. “It’s a gorgeous setting and we’ve had really great success there,” says Bob. 

While Bob was the face of the company, Mark has seamlessly stepped into the top role, but not without hard work of his own. “I started 26 years ago, working as a dishwasher,” he says before adding, “I had known since high school that I wanted to join full-time.” After graduating from culinary school, Mark came onboard, but not behind the stove. “There wasn’t an opening then, so I worked in operations for six years.” It proved to be a great training ground where he implemented procedures that remain in place today. He eventually assumed the executive chef role before Bob suggested he learn the final piece of the business: sales. “I hated it,” says Mark, who laughs, adding, “now it’s my favorite part of the business.” 

While Robert Ryan Catering is indeed a family business, that family extends beyond the surname. “This business will kill you,” says Bob of the long, hard hours and high burnout rate of catering, “but we don’t let that happen. We are really serious about quality of life here.” says Bob. “Hats off to my father who really embedded that in me,” says Mark.

A lifelon New Yorker, Emily Schmalholz was a TV producer at VH1 before moving into the events industry and landing at Westchester’s The Capitol Theatre. As director of special events at the historic space and its bar, Garcia’s, she says creating events and working in television have lots in common. “The ultimate goal for both is to tell a great story and create memorable moments.” Schmalholz, a self-described “event therapist,” had more to say about her work.

What’s the biggest difference between producing for television and producing events?


With so many people searching for niche, unique vacations, it can be difficult to find the perfect spot. However, if it’s rich history, a variety of event spaces, and a plethora of outdoor recreation activities you’re looking for, look no further than Altoona, Pennsylvania.


From Baltimore to Boston to brainstorming, Ralph Weaver has never been one to say “no” to trying something new. After studying communications and marketing at Boston University, the Baltimore native made his way to New York City where he worked with a public relations agency, allowing him to dip his toes in the world of event planning.  

And he hasn’t looked back since.