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party wizards

When Mary Bennett moved from Brewers Hill to Riverwest last year, she brought her own business with her. Bennett’s Party Wizards, incorporated as an LLC this year, provides bartending and wait staff service for private parties. “There’s no one else who does what I do,” says Bennett, who used to throw her own parties but grew frustrated that all the work serving houseguests prevented the hostess from enjoying her company. The bartender in her realized that this represented a potentially lucrative business niche, and with a dash of entrepreneurial spirit, Party Wizards was born. Two years ago Bennett started charging her friends $50 to tend to their parties, serving drinks, greeting guests, maintaining the kitchen and cleaning up — freeing hosts and hostesses to mingle and enjoy their company. “All my friends said it was a good idea,” she says. As her circle of friends widened, so did the market for Party Wizards. Bennett, who remains a bartender on call at the Lakefront Brewery and works weekends at the Clarion hotel bar, estimates she and her licensed Party Wizards staff serve about one party a month. She’d like to increase that to at least one per week. “It’s not really that expensive to hire us, and you end up with a nice clean house at the end of the night,” Bennett says. A completely service-based business, Party Wizards is not a caterer, though Bennett will contract caterers like Skyline and Einstein’s Bagels for interested clients. She will also recommend drinks lists, but purchasing is up to the party host. Party Wizards has served at birthdays, holidays, weddings and poker parties — for groups from two to 200. “I did the very first Yappy Hour,” Bennett says of the dog and dog owner social event sponsored by Bucketworks. Bennett is especially interested in expanding into wedding planning, but she also plans to offer other services for special occasions. She envisions a Valentine’s Day table-for-two special where Party Wizards staff serve a romantic meal, prepared by either boyfriend or girlfriend, to the couple on their date at home. New Year’s is the only occasion for which Party Wizards charges alternate rates, in order to pay wait and bar staff for the holiday, Bennett says. Her clients have expressed appreciation for the service and satisfaction with Party Wizards’ hourly rates. Sue Wemlinger hired Party Wizards for her 2003 wedding and for her husband’s 50th birthday party in 2004. She compliments Bennett’s professional approach. “It just went very smoothly,” she says, remembering how Party Wizards staff mingled with guests and poured kiddie cocktails for children at the birthday party. “It just really takes everything off your shoulders when you have such a big party like that,” she says. “It basically took all the headaches away.” Scott Tysen says that while he initially questioned the necessity of the Party Wizards service, after using it, he and his wife “found it unbelievably helpful.” They have retained Party Wizards more than five times, including Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parties in 2005. They are already planning to use Party Wizards for an event in the spring. “I think the people [at the party] were happier because you have somebody who knows what they’re doing behind the bar,” says Tysen, who was also pleased with the cleanup. “We got up in the morning expecting this huge mess. But everything was perfect.” Planning a Party? Party Wizards Mary Bennett 704-1071
party wizards