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13 Seattle Event Venues for A Spaced-Out Soirée

Unsure about throwing a company holiday party this year? Some areas of congregation, like bars and music venues, have returned to almost pre-pandemic occupancy - with vaccine, testing, and mask mandates in place, of course. Meanwhile, the corporate world seems the most hesitant to encourage gatherings and have been slow to make holiday plans. Many event venues are coming down from a busy summer of weddings to find their calendars surprisingly open this December.

With vaccine and testing requirements in place - like by law - for all public venues, and mask etiquette normalized, gathering doesn't need to be feared in the same way it was last year.

Looking for ways to host a pandemic-friendly corporate event? Try:

  • Capping guest size by hosting mini gatherings for individual departments, or inspire more company-wide unity by grouping people from different departments!
  • Providing an activity or seated program to minimize interactions.
  • Booking a venue with double the capacity of your guest count and planning a layout with plenty of room between tables or stations for space to social distance.
  • Incorporating outdoor spaces for eating, drinking, or hosting a fully-outdoor event.


Here are 13 unique Seattle event venues to spark your party-planning creativity:

Venues for 200+

1. National Nordic Museum in Ballard features multiple private event spaces that include outdoor areas for a fully outside event, or just to let your guests have the option of spreading out into the fresh air! Capacity: 26-1000.

 2021 holiday party ideas:

  • Host al fresco on the Fisherman’s Sun Terrace, which fits 600 standing, 280 seated, and can accommodate a 40x60 tent.
  • Create an auditory experience like lively dueling pianos or a relaxing sound bath in the acoustically-tuned Osberg Great Hall.
  • Create an intimate ambiance in the upstairs lounge, featuring an outdoor terrace with views of the Olympics and landmark fishing boat docks. Capacity 59 standing, 26 seated.


2. Seattle Design Center in Sodo has plenty of room to spread out – 8,500 square feet to be exact! The Atrium, with a 2.5 story ceiling and surrounded by designer showrooms, fits up to 899 guests reception-style, and 550 for a seated dinner, with constant air-flow maintained through an HVAC system.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • Utilize the balcony level for an additional capacity of 200 or book an optional secondary building space for even larger guest counts to distance further.
  • Reserve the 90-spot private parking lot for a fully outdoor event.
  • Create an integrated virtual or hybrid event using their seamless integration with PNTA’s live streaming service, Seattle Lives.


3. Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, home to the Grammy award-winning Seattle Symphony, is the ultimate class act. Two luxurious auditoriums and three breathtaking banquet/reception spaces include catering & bar services by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes as well as air cleansed by a hospital-grade HVAC system. Capacity: 120 – 1200.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • Food, drink & activity stations spread out across the vast Grand Lobby & promenade.
  • A seated, spaced out, plated diner reception in the Grand Lobby or Founder’s Room.
  • Viewing a musical or spoken performance with theater-style seating in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium or Grand Lobby.


4. Within Sodo, in Sodo, boasts an industrial-chic vibe and rooftop with glittering views of downtown Seattle. Capacity: 450 inside, 175 on the rooftop.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A glamorous (tented!) rooftop mixer.
  • A year-end presentation using the venue’s16-foot video screen with surround sound.
  • An elegant seated dinner party for small or large groups.


5. Cornish Playhouse in the Seattle Center, built for the 1963 World’s Fair, adds mid-century flair to events for up to 325 in the Main Auditorium and up to 375in the two-level Playhouse Lobby.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • Urban secret-garden soiree in the Dingwall Courtyard for up to 250, featuring a wrap-around garden and vine-covered walls with the World’s Fair Fitzgerald Fountain of the Northwest and partial roof covering on all sides.
  • Dance or theatre performance with an outdoor/indoor reception.
  • Corporate presentation or award ceremony.


Venues for 100+

1. The Burke Museum at the University of Washington features a brand new, renovated space with three floors of galleries to engage guests with visible collections and rare objects. Dance with dinosaurs, mingle with mastodons—it doesn’t get more “pure Northwest” than this. Capacity: 200 standing.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A learn-and-sip cocktail party amongst museum artifacts.
  • A company reception featuring break-out group activities or discussions in separate meeting rooms.
  • A scavenger hunt competition through the exhibits!


2. The 101 in Pioneer Square is a beautifully industrial venue with 4000 square feet of creative, open space and a capacity of 250.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A pop-up art show with food & drink stations.
  • A paint-and-sip activity-based event.
  • A charity fashion show.
  • An all-night dance party (with their 24 hour venue rentals). Alright, that one might not be the most pandemic-sanctioned…


3. The Hall at Fauntleroy in West Seattle is a charming event space housed in a vintage former schoolhouse and DSquared’s exclusive venue for over 30 years! The venue includes two expansive rooms, plus a garden courtyard and a bonus, club-like room with a built-in bar and billiards table.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • An elegant company awards ceremony utilizing the built-in stage in the Emerald Room.
  • A seated dinner and a musical or theatrical performance in the Emerald Room.
  • A cozy, festive gathering in the Vashon room or the Studio.

4. The Admiral’s House in Magnolia features an unobstructed view of the Seattle city skyline from its historical landmark property and complimentary on-site shuttle and valet options! Capacity: 250-300 outdoors standing or seated / 50 indoors seated.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A winter water-front soiree from inside one of the venue’s heated tents.
  • An intimate dinner inside the former residence of United States Navy Admirals and their distinguished guests from 1944 to2006.
  • Lawn games & lounging against a sunset city skyline.

5. Rainier Chapter House in Capitol Hill, built in 1925, was designed as a replica of George Washington's beloved Mount Vernon home. Rentals of the full facility include three floors of generously sized rooms decorated with period details and furniture, complete with tables, chairs, linen & tableware. Capacity: 225 standing, 160 seated.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A masquerade ball.
  • An intimate musical performance.
  • A 1920s murder mystery party!

Venues for 50+

1. Cathedral in Ballard combines good times with good causes, donating all of their profits to charity and hiring underrepresented youth in a variety of roles, including making scented soy candles which are now sold in stores in over 25 states! The venue features exposed brick, marble-top bars, and two separate floors. Capacity: 170 standing, 120 seated.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • A candle-lit mix & mingle (with complementary candles!)
  • A fundraising event – why not make the whole night about giving back for the holidays?
  • Art, activity, or education stations spread throughout the space.


2. Melrose Market Studios in Capitol Hill is one of the most walkable venues in Seattle, just blocks from the heart of Capitol Hill as well as the Convention Center and downtown Seattle. Exposed brick, massive fir beams, high ceilings and a polished concrete floor combine to make a textured and elegant blank slate for your event vision. A DSquared exclusive venue, the space fits up to150 standing, or 120 seated.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • With an in-house projector, and plug-and-go sound system, the space is great for casual presentations or screenings.
  • A chic seated dinner party or cocktail reception preceding a night out on the town.
  • Pop-up holiday markets or art shows.

3. JM Cellars in Woodinville is worth the drive from Seattle for the ambiance of its manicured courtyard of Japanese Maples and rare conifers strung with café lights. New this winter – a 20x40 covered tent to keep outdoor guests warm in addition to their propane lamps, real fire pits, and cozy blankets! Capacity: Inside: 150 standing, 125 seated / Outdoor: 70.

2021 holiday party ideas:

  • Wine tasting – obviously!
  • A murder mystery party with the elegant JM Cellars house as setting.
  • A picturesque seated dinner party with wine pairings.

Not ready to host an event this December? Follow the event industry trend of hosting a holiday party in early 2022 to avoid holiday premiums and packed calendars! 

Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering is proud to be an exclusive or preferred caterer at all of the above venues. Please inquire for more information and to check availability.

For information on King County's vaccination requirements for event venues as of October 25, 2021, click here.

Written November 2021

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Desiree Jones
Marketing Communications Specialist
DSquared Hospitality Company
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An Unsinkable Crew - catering through a perfect storm of challenges

Like everyone in the event industry, our company faced an absurd number of obstacles in the last two years – from closures and restrictions to supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. But on September 18, 2021, a perfect storm of calamities almost took down the ship in an event unlike any we’ve experienced before.

As an exclusive culinary partner of downtown Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, home of the Grammy award-winning Seattle Symphony, DSquared has managed the concessions, catering, and two restaurants in the iconic, city-block-long building since 2014. When the Seattle Symphony’s Development Department decided to bring back their annual Opening Night Gala in person for 2021, we looked forward to once again partnering with the Symphony to create a high-end, memorable event. However the night was – wait for it – going to look a little different this year.


The Setup

The Symphony’s goal was to bring their donor community back together for the first time since the shutdown and recognize their donors’ support in keeping the organization afloat throughout the pandemic.

Our goal was to collaborate with the Symphony to achieve a successful event by taking excellent care of their guests and highlighting the featured chef they brought in as a special showcase. Celebrated local chef, Kristi Brown, of restaurant Communion and catering business, That Brown Girl Cooks, was to create and prepare the menu for the post-concert gala celebration while our team would be responsible for assisting with plating, serving, bartending, and managing the overall logistics and guest service at the reception.

Ensuring a top-notch dinner service without being directly in control of creating the food was an atypical situation for us, but the greater challenge lay in last minute venue changes and an upcoming September storm.

Originally, the Symphony planned for their 300 (masked and vaccinated) guests to attend a full orchestra performance inside Benaroya Hall’s Taper Auditorium followed by a reception in the Grand Lobby. Two weeks before the event, COVID concerns resulted in moving the post-concert celebration to an outdoor venue a couple blocks away. Guests would be seated under a large atrium in small groupings of lounge furniture, with six feet of distance between each pod. This created the logistical puzzle of determining the necessary equipment for preparing and staging the food and bar service at the new location, which ultimately resulted in adding generators and building a field kitchen in the building’s large loading dock.


“I don’t know how this is going to work”

The day of the event arrived, and with it, the rain. While mostly covered, the public atrium, located between skyscrapers, created a wind tunnel that exacerbated any inclement weather – not an ideal location to serve an upscale dinner to elderly patrons. During the rainy set up, our team realized that some partially-covered tables would have to be moved out of the path of the rain, changing the entire floorplan. DSquared’s Chief Operating Officer, Reed Haggerty, remembers, “At 2:30 on the day of the event, our event décor planner said – ‘Reed, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don’t know how this is going to work.'”

With a few top-tier donor tables maintained, the majority of the seating assignments became a free for all - to the confusion of the arriving guests. “Not only are we dealing with high-level donors,” emphasizes Reed, “We’re dealing with high-level donors and telling them something they don’t want to hear. We need to send a message of ‘You’re not getting what you were expecting, but you’re still being taken care of.’”

One of DSquared’s company philosophies is to always consider the needs of the guest first. With this in mind, our team became the ultimate ushers, going above and beyond to escort those challenged by the new layout to find an open seat, as well as offering to bring them a blanket, a drink, or a plate of food, even though the reception included small bite stations, not plated courses.


The Calm before the Storm

Despite the layout challenges, the event itself flowed beautifully. From the time the guests walked from Benaroya Hall to the outdoor venue, and all while they were eating and drinking, the sky remained clear –even through dessert!

“One of our biggest successes was managing the line as the guests entered the reception.” Reed explains, “They checked in at the top of the stairs, then walked down the stairs, got their picture taken, and then were led right into the chef stations. We saw a bottleneck in the line, so our staff shifted course a bit, walking up and down the stairs tray-passing wine and appetizers –which is a feat in and of itself. So while people were waiting to get their picture taken, they were able to hold a glass of wine, have a conversation with their friends, and have a little nibble to wet their palate. It made the line fun.”

In an hour and a half, 300 guests were served appetizers, two small plates, bar service, and dessert. And during that time, the CEO of the Seattle Symphony gave a 10-minute speech, during which servers were off the floor. “That’s pretty impressive,” boasts Reed.


“I felt like we were on the Titanic”

Then, toward the end of the night, our worst-case scenario arrived.

“There was a point in the night when the wind and the rain really kicked into high gear, after we had been there for about an hour and a half,” recalls Reed, “There were probably 20 of us standing under the pop up tents which were lifting off the ground, even after being weighted, holding them down with both hands so they weren’t flying away, potentially endangering the guests.”

Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes’ Director of Sales Emily Schiller adds, “What Reed failed to mention is that everyone who is holding down the tents is getting completely soaking wet. It’s like standing in a shower. I was at another tent that was already half way off the ground, with two of our servers just frantically trying to get it broken down enough to get the top off of it so it wouldn’t catch wind.

“Things are blowing over, like fake walls that they had brought in – loud bangs – people are screaming, people are running – it was pure chaos.”

“As I’m standing there,” Reed says, “holding onto two tents at once, a big burst of wind comes and takes like three gallons of water and blows it up in the air, and all that water just falls down and lands on me - and I’m in a suit.”

All the while, DSquared’s General Manager of Benaroya Hall, Ryan Schiller, is at the VVIP table, serving high-end bottles of wine to the Symphony’s top donors. He said later, “I felt like we were on the Titanic, and everybody was trying to escape, and my group of people were just sitting there listening to the violins as the ship was going down.”

“But here’s the best part about that situation,” Reed adds, “Ryan continued to take care of these folks while the rest of the event was breaking down. That’s our guest-first philosophy.”



Flight Attendant Mentality

“We’ve all practiced earthquake safety and fire safety,” Emily says, “but no one ever talks about, ‘okay well what do you do when a storm happens in the middle of your event and everyone’s in high heels and gowns?’ Looking around and seeing all of our staff doing all of the right things at the right times and fully addressing the situation at hand was a proud moment.

“Not all caterers are going to usher your guests in a monsoon to make sure they get out safely. Our whole team took it personally to first take care of the guests, like a flight attendant mentality.”

Reed adds, “The unquestioning attitude that our team put forth that night, of just, ‘this is what we’re doing’ - there was never a time where you were looking at somebody and they didn’t know what they needed to be doing. The whole night felt like we were teetering on the edge of going from difficult to just awful. And everybody was in the right place at the right time.

“Especially coming out of COVID, not having large events like this, to be able to bring a team in – your core team, people that know you and the guests and seeing that our staff was so engaged and willing to put their everything on the line to make sure that these people had the best possible time. That’s a big moment of pride for me.”


A Once in a Lifetime Event

“Quite honestly this is a once in a lifetime event; I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Reed. From the time and energy Emily spent planning, and re-planning, the event, to the work put in by our Executive Chef Chris, when it wasn’t even his food being served, to the unflappable hospitality of our service staff on the day of the event, the DSquared Team went above and beyond to see the event through.

“It was a heroic feat that we were successful in this event. The event was set up to fail - not by any one individual - but because of all the odds stacked against us to have a successful event that night. We would not have been able to do it without the diligent efforts from Emily, Chef Chris, our Service Staff, to the owners of our company - David and Meg Haggerty, who were onsite holding down tents, clearing glassware that’s blowing away, serving VIPs, and looking at and tasting the food. This was the epitome of a team effort from A-Z, everybody was involved.”

Standing strong in our philosophies of teamwork, culinary brilliance, and always being guest-first allowed us to take on this challenging event. In the end, we’re proud to have worked together with our client partners, another culinary team, and our fellow event vendors to ensure the event’s successes, despite mounting obstacles.

Emily provides an unexpected benefit to the almost catastrophic event, “Doing the standard status quo fundraiser with round tables and plated dinner service–we’ve nailed that, we’re great at that. Working this event that was so outside of our control but using all of our skills, knowledge, and experience to still make it successful made it so much more memorable to all of the guests. Like, they’re not talking about the 2018 Gala where they all sat around and had dinner inside a hotel ballroom. But, they’re going to talk about that one time when we were outside in little pods and the heavens opened up and the rain came tumbling down!”

Photos by Brandon Patoc.

Written December 2021

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Desiree Jones
Marketing Communications Specialist
DSquared Hospitality Company
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Announcing our Best Holiday Party Packages Yet!

Four months ago I would have told you that venues and event vendors would be booked up long before the holidays this year. With corporate parties and even winter weddings backlogged from 2020, I would have stressed that venue availability would be tough to come by, and rentals like seating, tableware, and tents would be completely reserved – if not double booked.

Fast forward to the present - 3 weeks before what is usually our busiest month of the year - and holiday planning is moving along at a glacial speed, pre-global warming glacial speed


We know the concerns –

  • The Delta variant
  • Mask & vaccine mandates
  • Slowly recovering budgets
  • Employee hesitations about re-entering a crowded workspace


And we also know the importance of gathering now –

  • Sharing gratitude for the people who have stuck with your company through 2 years of chaos
  • Introducing new hires to their peers, for possibly the first time
  • Fostering co-worker friendships & teambuilding
  • Reflecting on and celebrating your successes of the past year
  • Re-centering and energizing your team for the upcoming year
  • Actually getting out of the house


The good news is it’s still feasible to put together a holiday gathering for December or January (heck, maybe even for November!). The bad news is that there’s less time than usual for planning, especially with lingering supply chain issues.


Here’s how we can help –

We’ve simplified the planning process for corporate and social holiday events this year by creating 3 packages for 50+ guests at either of our exclusive venues, Melrose Market Studios and The Hall at Fauntleroy, for events between November – January.


The packages include:

  • 5 hours of venue access, with a BONUS hour before and after your event for you to decorate and clean up  ($900+ value)
  • Full event staff AND security ($1800+ value)
  • All tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware & glassware included – no need to rent anything extra! ($1,500+ value)
  • UNLIMITED beer, wine, and cider for all of your guests for the full 5 hour event! ($700+ value) With option to upgrade to a mixed bar for an additional $8 per person.
  • A complete set of non-alcoholic drinks including Coffee, Tea, Infused Water, and our tasty Cranberry Citrus Punch ($250+ value)
  • A bonus option of either Hot Spiced Cider or Hot Chocolate ($85+ value)
  • 3 menu packages by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering (value ranging from $50-$80 per person)


These complete party packages range from $150 - $200 per person and are the biggest steal since the tragedy in Whoville on Christmas morning.


Did we mention there’s no upcharge for weekend dates?? Scoop up a date while you can and get ready to shower your team with joy and cheer this December and into the new year!

Click here for Melrose Market Studios Packages

Click here for Hall at Fauntleroy Packages

Photo credits: Hero image: NXT Creates | 1. Stephan & Audrey | 2. Vonne Wilde Photography | 3. Alex Kruse Photography | 5. Diwas Photography

Written Nov. 2021

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Desiree Jones
Marketing Communications Specialist
DSquared Hospitality Company
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Career Growth at DSquared Hospitality Company

Started from the bottom, now we here! It’s amazing to look back on the career trajectories of our long-time, or even not-so-long-time, employees. Here are a few examples of where a job at DSquared might lead:

  • Elaine Chow started as a server in 2019 After she fell in love with the food, people, and company (and we fell in love with her bright personality and work ethic), she joined our office team as an Event Producer in 2020 and is now a full-fledged Event Manager in 2021.
  • Kevin Ledbetter's family has worked for DSquared since the very start of the company in 1986! In 2014, Kevin joined the team as a server and bartender, then became a supervisor for our concessions at Benaroya Hall in 2016, and has been building creative solutions for our events as our Warehouse Manager since 2017.
  • Robert Sanders joined the team as a Dishwasher/Steward in 2017. We now rely on his consistency and easy-going personality as a full-time cook in our kitchen.
  • Stephanie Lau went from Event Assistant in 2016 to Event Manager in 2017, and then to Senior Event Manger in 2020. She now uses her extensive experience and familiarity with our company to streamline our systems as our Sales Operations Manager!
  • Desiree Jones - I started here in 2015 – a full 6 years ago – as the Event & Admin Assistant. As DSquared continued to expand, our marketing needs grew and I took on more of the management of our online presence and overall brand, first as an Assistant Office Manager in 2017, and finally as our Marketing Communications Specialist in 2019.
  • Saving the best for last… perhaps one of the most well-rounded members of our team is Nick Webber (pictured above), who started as a server in 2007 (back when our operations were still inside the Hall at Fauntleroy!), also working in the house team, and later transitioning into the kitchen full-time. After an injury limited his ability to work on his feet, he began organizing our kitchen production digitally - becoming an integral part of our culinary management team as one of our Sous Chefs. This year, we are excited to congratulate Nick on his further promotion to Executive Sous Chef! As DSquared has expanded into multiple kitchens, we will rely on Nick's leadership and organizational skills to coordinate and collaborate with our multiple culinary teams.
We are fortunate to be both a small enough, AND large enough, company to be able to create new positions to support both our company structure and employee growth.

Interested in joining the world of hospitality? We have a new CAREERS page on our website where you can view all of our current job postings!

Last two photos by Diwas Photography.

Written October 2021

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Desiree Jones
Marketing Communications Specialist
DSquared Hospitality Company
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A Chef's Guide to Culinary Inspiration in Seattle by DSquared's Executive Chef

Chris Johnston— the Executive Chef of Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, Davids & Co, and Muse at Benaroya Hall—spills his secrets to menu creation, including PNW day-trips and cyber-stalking chef friends.

As the Executive Chef of DSquared Hospitality Company (Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, BBQ café Davids & Co, and Muse, the elevated PNW restaurant inside Benaroya Hall), Chris has the privilege and challenge of overseeing the daily operations of two kitchens as well as crafting menus for each unique audience at catered events. When asked about his seemingly endless supply of inventive creations, Chris shared his go-to resources for culinary inspiration:

Social Media

"After so many years in this business [including working as the chef garde-manager at the Ritz Carlton in Miami’s South Beach, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Gasparilla Inn in FL, and Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas], I’ve developed culinary relationships across the country. Social media has been a great resource to stay connected with past colleagues.  

The advantage of following current or former associates for inspiration is that I know how they think and generate ideas. Some chefs I like to follow are @benjsteve (of the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills), @chefgeraldchin (Vice President of Culinary for Mina Group), @chefcaudeletohic (ONE65 in San Francisco), @chef_clive-gomez (the Sugar Factory in Bellevue), @chef_kamel_guechida (Corporate Executive Pastry Chef of Wolfgang Puck), @jsethprigg (one of our own chefs at Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes), and @mrdanielcox (Executive Chef of Seattle Hotel Motif).

I also follow countless farms, restaurants and specialty vendors.  Check out Santa Monica restaurant Rustic Canyon’s Instagram account (@rusticcanyon)—it’s riveting.”

International Food Blogs

“Other resources I like to browse are the websites sbs.com.au/food, seriouseats.com, bbc.co.uk/food and, of course, the New York Times.  Finding inspiration from distant lands keeps things modern and new.”

The Library

“I have been really impressed with the King County Library’s selection of cookbooks. I highly suggest the downtown Bellevue Library, and you don’t have to turn them in at the same location you checked them out. If you are a forward thinker, you can actually request a book and pick up at your local library, but I prefer to browse the section.”

Local Farms

“Although farmers markets can be adventurous, I like to go out to the farms themselves to see what is going on.  One of my personal faves is Left Foot Goat Farm in Eatonville. Another, Bybee Farms in North Bend, has a killer blueberry selection.  The best day trips are out to the oyster farms on the Hood Canal.  Don’t forget to buy a shellfish license and check the tide chart and you can get your own oysters.”

“How do I predict what people will want to be eating next season? Chances are if I get excited about something, others will too.  By staying involved with producers, farmers, and vendors, you can be exposed to products and ingredients before they are trendy.”

To see some of Chef Chris’s creations and the behind-the-scenes happenings at DSquared Hospitality Company, check out Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering on Instagram or Facebook at @tuxedosandtennisshoes. If you’re also partial to New York sports references, you can find Chef Chris on Instagram at @chef.crispy.

Written December 2019

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Desiree Jones
Marketing Communications Specialist
DSquared Hospitality Company
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