By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
WINKLER, Man. – George Klassen of George K Catering, who has had his own catering business for more than 18 years and is well-known in the community, will be running Days Inn & Suites – Winkler’s newly-built first-class conference facility.
Klassen is excited about the brand new venue.
“We’re known for weddings; we have 25 weddings booked and we’ve hosted one already,” he told CLN in mid-January. Outside of the local churches, there is only one other wedding venue in the basement of the Quality Inn, where Klassen operated before he came to the new location.
With direct access from the hotel, Days Inn Conference Centre Winkler encompasses nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. The centre can accommodate up to 300 people in a banquet seating. The space can also be divided into three multi-functional meeting rooms that can hold between 80 to 100 people.
The banquet room is done in earth tones with wainscotting, darker tan on the bottom and lighter tan on the top. The lighting is soft, with half of the lights dimmable to set the right tone for weddings. The east wall has floor-to-ceiling windows accented with dark brown valences and drapes with subtle specks of gold.
Winkler is a city of about 10,000 located an hour and 15 minutes from Winnipeg, and 10 minutes from the U.S. border.
“We plan to make people feel like they’re not in Winkler when they come to our facility — like they’re in another environment due to the lighting and draperies and other elements,” Klassen said.
Thomas Builders of Winnipeg designed the building, although Klassen takes credit for the design of an efficient kitchen.
“We did design our own kitchen — it’s really important because of the service. We need to be able to produce food for 250 people very quickly. We offer very high-end service — my reputation precedes me. My logo says, ‘down to the smallest detail,’ and I stress that to my brides. If the water glasses are half full, we make sure we fill them. It’s the little things that people notice. If we look after the little things, the big things come,” Klassen said.
“When we plan weddings, we are almost like wedding planners. We set budgets, and if we know the couple can’t afford something, we don’t recommend it. We do that to gain respect. And if I see people around town, I don’t ever want to feel that I’ve taken them for a ride.”
The new business and new centre are working well. George K Catering did 44 Christmas banquets this year, up 10 from last year.
“I do a lot of my own cooking — plan, cook, decorate and even do dishes,” Klassen said. “In all honesty, if you want to see what people like and don’t like, do the dishes. You really get to know what people are eating and not eating.”
While much of the business is local, Klassen does get some meetings out of Winnipeg, including the Dairy Association and a conference for 150 women that was booked “even before the sod was turned” in January of last year.
“We’re known for weddings, and I hope to do 40 to 50 this year. As we get busier, I have to concentrate more on service. That’s my biggest challenge — to keep the level of service as good, and to put Winkler on the map once again.”
Located at 395 Boundary Trail, Days Inn & Suites – Winkler features 81 spacious rooms and suites, free Wi-Fi, free Daybreak Café breakfast, indoor pool & waterslide, fitness centre and free guest parking.