Making sure every detail is perfect for an event takes a lot of effort, but the women behind the scenes of B&A Warehouse know how to get the job done with great style and great aplomb.
Story by Alice Doyle / Photography by Maggie Rae
Birmingham institution B&A Warehouse is consistently a first choice for events from weddings to fundraisers. If you ask around town, you’ll discover that almost everyone has been to the historic venue at some point. Its innate appeal springs from the building itself; once a plumbing and mill supply company dating back to the early 1900s, the original detailing (exposed brick and wooden columns) was kept intact during its renovation, but beautifully restored and enhanced. B&A is also celebrated for its excellent onsite and off-site catering services and diverse spaces within—areas for more intimate gatherings and large-scale wedding receptions. While the goal is a seamless presentation, it takes a dedicated and talented team to pull it off time and time again. Alabama Weddings talks to the women who make it happen: Managing Partner Susan Mason, Sales & Marketing Manager Haley Roebuck, and Executive Chef Deborah Thomas.
Q: What do you think makes the Warehouse a consistent favorite among event givers?
A: “We offer everything for an event except the flowers, wedding cake and music, as those are such personal decisions – so many linens, glassware options, and over 4,000 menu choices. People know they will get their money’s worth plus the quality of the food is excellent. Our food is full of flavor and is stylishly displayed. And it’s abundant, so you will never be stopping by a drive-through on the way home!” – Susan Mason
Q: What’s something you’ve learned working on wedding receptions?
A: “We always make sure the bride and groom eat before they enter the reception. There is nothing more unattractive than a bride that’s had too much to drink. Often brides especially are nervous on the day, and they simply don’t eat enough. I had one almost faint and it was scary, so I never made that mistake again! We also send this nice B&A tote bag filled with some of the wedding food, cake and champagne to have at the hotel, and the newlyweds are always so grateful.” – Susan Mason
Q: What do you encourage every bride to consider?
A: “The best events have personal, special touches that really make a statement. For example, one bride had a collection of milk glass that we used during the reception; another couple had collected all types of cocktail napkins in their signature colors. We always ask the couple about special recipes from their mother or grandmother that they want to serve to honor the family nature of weddings. One groom had proposed in Paris, so we had a crepe station. These type of elements say, ‘This is my wedding, not just any wedding,’ and allow the couple to take ownership in their wedding.” – Susan Mason
Q: Can you share a challenge in a particular event and how you troubleshot?
A: “The day of a wedding, the band that was coming from Atlanta called and said they had broken down and were not going to be able to make it. Their story was fishy but I just had to improvise, and eventually the band manager found a replacement. Before the reception, the bride asked if everything was in order. I smiled and said yes! After the first dance, she came up to me and said, “That is not my band. Remind me never to play poker with you!” – Haley Roebuck
Q: You work every weekend! You must love your job.
A: “No matter the long hours and weekends, it’s all worth it when the bride comes up beaming and ecstatically announces: ‘This is the best day ever. It’s everything I could have ever imagined and more!’ That is so rewarding!” – Haley Roebuck
Q: For wedding receptions, what are tried-and-true crowd pleasers?
A: “My garlic chicken is a favorite as well as the pork and beef tenderloin dishes, always mac & cheese, and my special green beans. People love our different stations. We do a grits station, a fried rice station, and a fajita setup—all these are very popular.”
– Deborah Thomas
Q: The Warehouse is known for your fine cooking. What makes it so appealing?
A: “Well, in addition to tasting good, I also make sure the food looks as good, paying special attention to the way it is served and displayed. For example, grits are often a taste-specific dish and people either like them or they don’t. When they see and taste my grits, they fall in love – mine take three hours to cook!” – Deborah Thomas
Q: What do you cook for yourself and family?
A: “Even though Sunday is my day off, I still cook Sunday dinner for my children and grandchildren. They stop by every Sunday and take a plate home with them for everyone in the family. Often it’s fried chicken, or when we have a fried seafood night, everyone comes, including my nieces and nephews!”
– Deborah Thomas
For more information about B&A Warehouse, visit bawarehouse.com.