The Ritz Touch, 30 years later, still providing quality service
Mike and Lynda Ritz started The Ritz Touch 30 years ago in the Connellsville Community Center building.
“Both of our mothers thought we were crazy when we told them what we were going into. They looked at each other, shook their heads thinking it would never last. But 30 years later, here we are, still enjoying our business, and our mothers both helped in many ways over the years,” Lynda Ritz said.
“Our staff is most important. Without a good staff, a company can't exist,” she continued. “We are privileged and blessed to have a group of employees who like doing what we do as much as we do and we know that when you love what you do, it shows in your work.”
Lynda Ritz said they hire a lot of high school and college students, most of them from the Connellsville area.
“For them, it is mostly weekend work. It teaches them responsibility without taking them away from their schoolwork, and that's what we want to see. We think their schoolwork is more important than anything. They also get a sense of pride, because when the event is over and people tell them ‘job well done,' they know they've been a part of making that happen,” she said. “They are also learning a unique business and earning money.
“Mike and I are so proud to see so many of our former employees that are now teachers, doctors, pharmacists and foremen,” she continued. “Dr. Ryan Hiles is a chiropractor in Connellsville. He was one of a group of kids, Justin Rose was another, that are our son John Michael's age. They all get together often and they have told me that they say to each other that whenever they win the lottery they want to come back and be waiters at The Ritz Touch again. They remember it as a fun time in their life. Often they are at an event that we've booked and they peek in and ask if we have any extra rigatoni for them.”
Lynda Ritz said she is proud of them all, past and present. “They are family to us. Our son is a chief in the Navy and is not around often, but when he is, he jumps right in to help.”
Mike Ritz's mother has passed away. Lynda Ritz's mother, Billie Dunston, helps do the books and helps with whatever else she can. Daughter Nikki Mullins is involved with the business, as are her children, Harlee and Logan. At 6 years old, Logan helps set out silverware at events.
“We like to say that our name says it all, The Ritz Touch,” Mike Ritz said. “We are a catering and decorating company and have done over 2,500 weddings, corporate events, holiday parties, school functions, birthday gatherings, anniversary celebrations, bridal and baby showers, bar mitzvahs, sports banquets and more. With our 30 years of experience, we help you from beginning to end.”
When they started the business, the Ritzes saw a need for a service that would take away the stress of planning an event, a service that answers how and where to start, a service that can do it all.
“The Ritz Touch cares about your event and adds that personal touch, that is the foundation we built our business on. We take care of the facility, the food, decor, linens, style or theme. We can also find the right photographer and entertainment if needed,” they said.
“Over the years, we have seen the worst and the best. We know what works and what doesn't,” Mike Ritz said.
Lynda Ritz and Mullins have seen many wedding trends over the years. The mother and daughter attend shows and do research to bring their clients the newest colors and products. They are then able to blend personal taste with the newest trends.
“This year the latest is back to your mother's wedding,” Lynda Ritz said. “We're seeing smaller bouquets and candles on the tables as centerpieces. We're seeing more frilly looks, rather than the straight lines that have been in style, even the Gatsby era is coming back with smaller little hat veils and lace.”
She said the guys' attire is what's old is new again, with bow ties, suspenders and argyle socks that match the girls dresses. Also, people are doing more buffets than sit-down dinners now.
“When I meet with the bride and groom, I want to see what their style is. We want to put their interests in their special day. The reception should reflect their personalities to their guests. I like to talk with them a year in advance when possible so we can plan and they can budget,” Lynda Ritz said.
Mike Ritz prepares the menus, from traditional comfort foods to satisfying classic entrees. His recipes are made from the freshest products available, never frozen or processed from a box.
“Some companies take on eight or more functions per day, we only take two. This quality over quantity standard allows us to plan and execute your wishes and needs correctly without confusion, assuring your event is exactly as you envisioned. This standard is exactly why you will always see one of our family members at your function. Our family's goal is to do your event as if it were our own, assuring quality and personal attention to even the smallest detail,” Lynda Ritz said.
The Ritz Touch has a home office in Connellsville and is based out of the Jewish Community Center in Uniontown, where their props are stored and where they have been associated for 27 years. They are exclusive to the Uniontown Jewish Community Center, Connellsville Township Social Hall and Knights of Columbus in Morgantown. They are available for other venues as well. They can plan any size event, small and intimate to very large.
The Ritzes invite all to visit their website at www.theritztouch.com for more details on scheduling and planning special events. For more information, call 724-626-0430.
Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.