although its origins trace back to 1981 when founder Laura Boehmer attempted her first business venture, A La Carte Gourmet Specialties. As the small take-away shop developed a loyal customer base in South Tampa, Laura began to receive requests to cater off-premise events which helped the company to blossom. Soon after the business relocated in 1983, she decided to focus exclusively on off-premise catering and A La Carte Catering was born. Over the next several years her business built a solid reputation in Tampa as a premier catering company specializing in gourmet cuisine.
When Laura married Steve Schmalhorst in the early 1990s, the couple began exploring new opportunities in the event industry. Laura envisioned creating Tampa’s most spectacular, all-inclusive event venue. It would couple A La Carte Catering’s gourmet cuisine with transformable event space, creative elements and a variety of in-house services for a “One-Stop Shop” experience. They began searching for a financial partner to take stock in this concept. After many failed attempts, fate intervened when A La Carte Catering was hired to cater the 1998 holiday party of Outback Steakhouse, Inc. It was this occasion that eventually lead to a partnership between the two companies. A La Carte Event Pavilion was about to become a reality.
A La Carte Event Pavillion
In early 2000, The Egypt Temple Shrine Auditorium was selected as the location for the new Pavilion. After extensive renovations, the project was complete in December 2000, just weeks before Super Bowl XXXV was slated to begin in Tampa. A La Carte Event Pavilion’s grand opening coincided with Super Bowl week as it hosted five major events for clients including CBS, Maxim Magazine, Keyshawn Johnson, and the HollyRod Foundation.
Within the first few years of operation, A La Carte Event Pavilion was host to many memorable events including the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s Super Bowl Ring Ceremony and General Tommy Frank’s Retirement Party. Long-term relationships were established to secure many of the areas most prestigious annual events including Moffitt Cancer Center’s “Magnolia Ball,” The DeBartolo Family Foundation’s “All Star Charity Gala” and the Ronald McDonald House “Storybook Ball.” A La Carte Event Pavilion welcomed the bi-monthly boxing competition “Fight Night at the Pavilion,” hosted by Fight Night Productions, as well as countless corporate events, private parties and weddings.
In 2004, Laura and Steve retired from A La Carte Event Pavilion in order to pursue other ventures. As sole owner, OSI Restaurant Partners, Inc. searched extensively for a new Proprietor. They eventually selected Misha Hart, a veteran of Outback Steakhouse with years of experience and success operating Outback Catering. The choice proved to be ideal as Misha was awarded with OSI’s “Partner of the Year Award” the first three years at her new post.
For over a decade, A La Carte Event Pavilion has continued to thrive. Misha and her staff have continued to improve upon the concept’s foundation by developing a creative environment coupled with unmatched standards of excellence. Misha explains it this way, “Our guests are always impressed that we offer so many services and create custom parties. And, they keep coming back because they see our passion for events. We are relentless about perfecting the details and that’s what makes us special.”