Now president of Las Vegas-based catering and special event company Soirees, Lisa Bobak has cooked up plenty of parties in her 25 years as a special event expert. She's served Las Vegas events since 1982, when she tried her luck as the off-premise caterer for three restaurateur friends. “The food was generated in their kitchens, their off-duty staff assisted, and that is how I got started in corporate events and catering,” she says.
In 1984, Bobak set out on her own with a new name for the catering operation: Soirees. The fancy moniker came courtesy of a popular DJ Bobak used to enjoy in Connecticut — “Murray the K and the Swingin' Soiree,” she recalls. “It always sounded like a great party in the background of his broadcasts.”
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
… Perhaps due to the good karma of her company's name, Bobak has overseen some superlative special events. She re-created the original room decor and menu items for the Goldfield, Nev.-based Goldfield Hotel's 50th anniversary celebration, taking cues from old sepia photographs and vintage descriptions. A little more unusual was the not-so-retiring retirement party that Soirees executed for the proprietor of a desert bordello. “I never would have seen the inside of a working brothel otherwise,” Bobak says. “It was a long drive from Las Vegas, but the stories we shared made the ride short.”
Such exotic field trips aside, Bobak enjoys being involved in all the significant moments of a client's life. “It's an unbelievable ride,” she says. “You're so very happy when the wedding you have coordinated goes off without a hitch … then they have a baby, and you're asked back to plan the family's celebration. Then you create a wedding reception for that next generation.”
Besides seeing families grow up, Bobak has witnessed the event industry mature too. Thanks to modern technology, “The resources you have at your fingertips are amazing,” she says. She also points to the higher standard of professionalism in the industry as an impressive accomplishment. Bobak knows associations — she served on the board of directors for ISES and was president of the Las Vegas chapter of the society. “I learned a boatload of business and event techniques,” Bobak says. “The education I have gleaned from ISES is invaluable.”
And the knowledge Bobak gained isn't just for show — she puts her skills to work during tough times. She notes a slowdown in certain sectors in the last five years. “Our largest market segment, corporate catering, has tightened its belt considerably,” she says.
A lust for learning keeps Bobak coming back to The Special Event; she was an enthusiastic participant at the first show 22 years ago at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. “The best part was working on a decor crew during the day to transform the meeting area for the Gala Awards that evening,” she remembers. Also amazing to Bobak is the evolution of the show as its scale has grown to include everything from a customized parade in Orlando, Fla., to New Orleans for “the closest thing to a real Mardi Gras for The Special Event attendees,” she says. But the show teaches too. “It introduces us to concepts and ideas that we adapt and incorporate into Soirees' repertoire,” Bobak says.
Soirees is always reaching higher, as its recent business venture — a new facility and food concept called The Kitchen — attests. So how does Bobak stay passionate about parties? “It's all about the entire experience,” she says. “So we eat out a lot, attend workshops and motivational seminars, and read everything we can get our hands on.”
Call Soirees at 702/364-0065 or visit www.soireeslv.com.