The Richmond

A Great Venue for Special Events

Whether it’s for personal family or corporate events, the beautifully decorated Richmond is fast becoming known as the place to book for that special occasion on the calendar.

The Richmond has been in business for the past nine years and new owner Alex Howard is excited to be moving onward and upward in what is a very unique space, located at 477 Richmond St. W., in the heart of downtown Toronto.

In a relatively short period of time, The Richmond has already achieved a reputation for having a rich background in event planning in many different settings. The journey to Howard becoming the new owner of the business started at her very own wedding, which was held at the venue she now owns. 

Howard had kept in touch with the original owner after her special day and it was that continued contact – along with being in the right place at the right time – that allowed her to realize the original owner was set to retire in September. Without hesitation, Howard decided to jump in and purchase the business when it was put up for sale.
Asked about what made The Richmond stand out in her mind, Howard talks about the spectacular location.  Being so close to the busy downtown core and the accessibility to major roads and public transit makes the Richmond the perfect venue for weddings, birthdays, corporate functions and art shows.

Intimate, Warm Atmosphere

Regarding the relatively small space at the venue (1600 sq. feet, complete with 18-foot ceilings with chandeliers), Howard says it’s a factor that has actually increased business. 

“Companies like the feeling of intimacy,” she notes. Howard also points out that “people living in Toronto are used to living in 500-square feet, so the venue works, along with the location.” 

The downturn in the economy led to cutbacks in the corporate world and so once again, the smaller venue at The Richmond has been able to lend itself to accommodating some companies that may be working with financial restrictions.  Nowadays, many businesses are opting for smaller company events for their employees – such as cocktail parties, where once again, the intimate feel of The Richmond lends itself to the more casual corporate gatherings that have largely replaced gala dinners of the past.

In addition to that, a number of today’s weddings are a lot smaller and more intimate than they once were, with the bride and groom opting for close-knit family and friends only.  Along with that, the advent of non-traditional weddings and their need for smaller and more intimate surroundings has increased the popularity of smaller venues such as The Richmond. At capacity, The Richmond can accommodate up to 150 people for a standing reception or 80 for a seated dinner. 

Along with the smaller venue, it is the versatility of the space at The Richmond that makes it quite unique. From corporate functions to weddings, to art shows, each function is a “blank canvas” that is suited to each function. From product launches to birthdays, anniversaries or weddings, The Richmond works with each client to make a unique, individual event – regardless of size or budget. Clients can choose from set packages of rentals, catering and décor or they can build the event from scratch. Clients can leave all of the planning to The Richmond staff or join in to help create their function.

Howard estimates that social functions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries account for about one-third of the business.  Corporate events such as meetings, AGMs, product launches and media launches, along with art shows tends to equal out at about one-third for each type of function. Howard says she greatly enjoys these types of launches because they are “different, new and exciting.”  One of the recent media launches that excited her most was having Margaret Attwood at The Richmond to promote her latest book “MaddAddam”.

An aspect of the business that Howard is exceptionally proud of is the “green” factor at The Richmond. In fact, it was one of the primary features that drew her to the venue in the first place. Howard “wanted to prove that being green doesn’t mean sacrificing details.”

Innovative Design

There are many green initiatives throughout The Richmond, from the floor in the main space, which is bamboo, a renewable, regenerating resource, to compact fluorescent light bulbs being used where practical. Standard toilets have been replaced with pressure-assisted toilets, which use considerably less water. The Richmond uses filtered tap water; no bottled water is allowed on the premises. All paper products are chlorine-free, made from 100% recycled material; and cloth towels are used as much as possible.

Votive candles with rechargeable batteries are used for the windows and balcony ledges. All leftover foods and non-alcoholic beverages are donated to the YMCA Youth Shelter located in the neighbourhood, organic waste is composted and waste from events fills a small one-litre trash pail.

What does the future hold? Howard says she wouldn’t call it rebranding, but nonetheless “getting the brand out there” is the primary objective. That vision is being greatly aided by the likes of social media, which helps build and expand relationships with suppliers, caterers and clients. She notes that doing this through social media is much cheaper than in days gone by, when advertising and mailing costs ate up a good portion of an advertising budget.

The mission for The Richmond is straightforward: create visitor experiences unlike anything else. With Alex Howard at the helm of The Richmond, the possibilities are endless.

A comment from a satisfied customer sums up what The Richmond is all about: “We really appreciated your help in hosting our event which was a winner of a Canadian Special Events award.” – Procter and Gamble.