Southern Oaks Plantation’s Asaros Celebrate More Than 30 Years In Business
NEW ORLEANS – Newlyweds Bobby and Sue Asaro were working in the medical field in the 1980s. After almost 10 years in medicine, Bobby, as a vascular technologist, and Sue, as an ultrasound technician, were anxious to embark on a new challenge. Bobby had recently become engrossed in photography, and began shooting weddings as a progression of his new hobby. Sue was soon joining him during the events. Together—young, creative, and energetic—Bobby and Sue quickly became the most sought after photographers in the business, they said.
After working so closely with brides, wedding reception venues and catering companies, Bobby realized something was missing – personalized service. “While shooting weddings in the mid 80s, I noticed there was nobody paying personal attention to the bride, groom or their parents,” said Bobby. “That is when the idea of Southern Oaks Plantation began to evolve.”
During dinner one evening, Bobby began sketching on a napkin, conveying to Sue his idea of opening their own reception venue. He was determined to realize his ambitious dream, and decided the first step was to find a suitable location.
While driving along Hayne Boulevard one afternoon, Bobby happened to catch a glimpse of a stately antebellum-style home sitting vacant and neglected at 7816 Hayne Blvd. Although most people drove by and noticed only the overgrown landscaping and a boarded up building, Bobby said he knew it could be the beautiful venue he had imagined. However, a string of six failed businesses occupied the building after the home’s original owners moved out, leading many to conclude the mansion was cursed, Bobby said. The Asaros’ friends and family members tried to persuade them from investing their money in a doomed venture, but Bobby said he was convinced they would buck the trend and achieve success.
In January of 1987, Bobby and Sue Asaro opened the gates of the newly christened “Southern Oaks Plantation” for the first time, and they said the bad luck that had shadowed the property for years seemed to vanish instantly. They booked their first celebration that very same day.
“I am so proud of what we have accomplished,” said Bobby, crediting their 30 year success to an intense focus on great food and exceptional service. “In New Orleans, the food has to be good. You can have a beautiful setting, but if the food is no good, the venue doesn’t work.”
Bobby said this is why Southern Oaks provides one inclusive package providing everything needed, instead of several, differing tiers.
The Asaros also said the venue’s beautiful Chiavari chairs, sparkling crystal chandeliers, perfectly manicured lawns and magnificently presented cuisine have further differentiated the three-acre Southern Oaks Plantation from other venues since its inception.
Bobby said of all the wedding venues in Louisiana, only Southern Oaks Plantation has won the “Bride’s Choice Award” from WeddingWire and been selected as a “Best of Weddings” pick by The Knot for the last six consecutive years. Southern Oaks has also been chosen as the best New Orleans wedding venue by Brides Magazine; voted as the No. 1 “Place to Get Married” in The Times-Picayune’s Readers’ Choice Awards; selected as “Best Place for a Wedding Reception” in the Gambit’s Best of New Orleans 2014; and awarded as the No. 1 “Best All-Around Wedding Venue” and the No. 1 “Most Romantic Wedding Venue” in the Best of Borrowed & Blue New Orleans three years in a row.
“Most people can’t believe how organized we are, and how everything is accomplished in a professional, timely manner,” said Bobby.
When looking for inspiration, the Asaros said they sought out the best in the business – Walt Disney and the Disney Company. “He is my idol,” Bobby said of Disney, “The man was a genius.”
Having attended numerous seminars at the Disney Institute, Bobby said many pieces of their operation are modeled after the Disney theme. “Each employee is hand-picked, and each understands our philosophy of top service,” Bobby said. “They are all properly attired, neat, approachable and smiling. Our employees are genuinely proud to work at Southern Oaks.”
The Asaros said they believe in impeccable service, and they aim to exceed the expectations of everyone who attends a reception at Southern Oaks Plantation.
PHOTO 2: Sue and Bobby Asaro, owners of Southern Oaks Plantation