- ELLEN POSNER
CARLO PARENTELA, Owner of Château Le Jardin Event Venue
“Make the plan. Work the plan. Never give up.”
Carlo Parentela was born to be a leader in the hospitality industry.
At the age of five, Carlo got his first taste of waiting tables, washing dishes, and working weddings – all through his family’s catering business.
“I knew from a very young age that this industry was going to be tough and that the environment could be grueling, but my passion for it was undeniable,” Carlo shares. “Even as a kid, I knew that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
By the time he graduated from the Technology University of Guelph’s Humber College of Applied Arts & Technology with a degree in Engineering and a focus on Civil Engineering, he was ready to open his first business.
In partnership with his father, Carlo opened Château Le Jardin Event Venue, in Vaughan, Ontario, in the ‘80s.
Just shortly after that, Carlo Parentela put his lifelong experience and his newfound education to work. He successfully purchased the business completely on his own, and immediately expanded the company, driving a staggering 65% increase in sales.
The facility is now recognized as a major wedding and event facility in Canada, and continues to thrive thanks to the foundation that Carlo built more than thirty years ago.
Diversifying an Expanding Portfolio
As the country transitioned from big hair, handlebar mustaches, and Madonna, to puffer jackets and The Spice Girls, Carlo Parentela was ready for his own revolution.
In 1995, he took over yet another catering operation, acquiring Hunters’ Glen Golf Club in Kleinburg.
“I’ve been asked how I grew sales by 300% in the first year and 450% in the second year,” he shares. “Honestly, I looked at the details. Details are critical to guests. As soon as a customer walks into an establishment, they immediately look at the details, which tell the story of the larger picture.”
Just three years after acquiring Hunters’ Glen Golf Club, he turned to the sports and entertainment industry, opening Private Box Catering within the newly created Hershey Centre in Mississauga, and also managed the operations of the Icebreakers Sports Bar & Grill.
As Carlo continued to diversify and expand his portfolio with new ventures and acquisitions, he always found a way back to his roots – Le Jardin.
He had already expanded the hall from a 16,000 square foot facility to a whopping 50,000 square foot facility. Sales had doubled. Staffing had increased. But what was next?
Carlo Parentela has always been one step ahead.
“People have called me forward-thinking, but really, I am just always looking for the next big thing,” shares Carlo.
In 2007, the next big thing was the complete renovation of the Le Jardin property that doubled the original wing of the Le Jardin Special Event Centre.
While the renovation was a massive undertaking and a grueling project, Carlo made sure to keep one thing top-of-mind.
“For me, the appeal of catering and hospitality has always been the strong relationships that I work so hard to develop with my clients. Planning a wedding is an incredibly personal experience, and I’m always honored and humbled to be a part of the journey with a new couple,” Carlo says. “This renovation enabled us to open our doors to even more couples and create even more magical memories for years to come.”
A Jack of All Trades
While the event industry has always been – and still is – his life’s passion, Carlo has dabbled in other industries over the years as well. He is currently working to develop a proprietary catering software system, CaterX. This new CRM tool will enable users to manage every aspect of their catering business, from sales, staffing, menu items, inventory, and even contracts.
In 2009, Carlo purchased Find a Banquet Hall, an online directory for venue searches, and completely revamped the platform. He also created “Toronto’s Bridal Show”, which became the bridal show of the year to attend.
He has also dipped his toes into the residential pool, having originally developed 230 residential lots in Barrie, Ontario which have now increased to almost 2,000 residential units.
In 2012, he created “Yo Amo Tacos Bar ‘n Grill” in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and then in 2014 created the same restaurant concept in Woodbridge.
But that wasn’t enough for Carlo Parentela.
In May 2018, Carlo launched a members-only, monthly dinner concert series, called Après Noir, within Château le Jardin. The retreat serves guests the finest wines and champagnes, and a menu catered by celebrity chefs. High-profile guests have ranged from Robin Thicke to Shaggy, and Arianna Grande to Bobby Flay, Drake, Jennifer Hudson and David Blaine. The experience has garnered attention from national and international media outlets from The Toronto Star to Food & Wine.
Carlo is also the creative force behind Long Valley Productions, the parent company of the TV series “Last Bride Standing”. The series was the first reality show to feature brides-to-be competing against each other to win a wedding of over $100,000 in wedding packages, including a free 250 person wedding at Chateau Le Jardin Event Venue.
“At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller. I’ve always wanted to be a film producer,” Carlo shares.
The show recently taped its fourth season in 3D, officially marking the program as the first reality TV show to be filmed in 3D. The 3D season is expected to be released in the fall of 2011.
Now, Carlo is working on the final expansion of Le Jardin, with the addition of a new Marriott Hotel, Tribute Portfolio, called Hotel Vie. This new property will be adjacent to the existing 80,000 square foot event venue facility. The new build will include 261 guest suites and 54 office suites. There will be three new restaurants including Sopra Sopra Ristorante & Enoteca and Claude Monet Courtyard, a 200-seat Italian restaurant and patio, as well as Le Marche de Joe, a French Bistro and Market with an outdoor patio, and La Terrasse, a rooftop pool and lounge with a retractable roof.
The expansion will also include an outdoor area for private events, called Le Jardin Courtyard, and an indoor pool and fitness centre, known as Le Salle de Gym, and a 9,000 square foot spa, Giverny Holistic & Wellness Spa.
“The renovation solidifies Le Jardin as the hotel centerpiece of Toronto,” shares Carlo. “And it makes me proud to be able to carry on my family’s legacy, and honor the partnership I made with my father all those years ago.”
Carlo is also working on a new project now, which involves juice bar-cafés in shipping containers throughout the city.
Lending A Helping Hand
While Carlo is oftentimes characterized as a driven entrepreneur, there is another side to him that many do not know.
“Giving back to those that are less fortunate has always been important to me,” he notes.
In 1990, he started doing free luncheons for the poor and elderly. And in December 2020, Carlo spearheaded a free Christmas luncheon for senior citizens and single mothers with children, called Christmas Magic at Chateau Le Jardin. The experience was designed with one mission in mind: to create a memorable event for senior citizens and single mothers along with their children that may be in need this holiday season.
Carlo and his team leveraged Facebook to find volunteers to help set up and run the event. He also turned to social media to encourage community members to donate canned goods or unwrapped toys to give to those in need.
The luncheon included donated surprises and experiences like gift bags, music, entertainment, and more.
A Lover of Life
From waiting tables and washing dishes as a kid, to owning the Chateau Le Jardin Event Venue as an adult, Carlo Parentela has lived the hospitality life.
“Over the past 30 years, my life and career have taken off in directions I could never have imagined, and it has been an amazing ride. Each new opportunity has brought a new set of challenges, and it has been invigorating to overcome them, and to continue to evolve and grow – as a hospitality professional and as a person.”
But even after more than three decades of success, he still stresses one important thing: collaboration is key.
“I make sure to relay my ideas to the people around me. Then, I listen to them for their feedback and suggestions on how to make that idea even better,” Carlo shares. “Brainstorming with my team is a necessary process and I always get ideas from it. This is how the business slowly comes to life.”
The team player also keeps an eye out for the next entrepreneur, and is ready to help whenever he can.
“The advice I give to future entrepreneurs is to be persistent. It may be the number one key trait required to become a successful business owner. Make the plan, work the plan, and never give up. In reality, you might be chasing a business idea for months, even years. During these times, you must never give up.”
One thing is for sure – Carlo Parentela will never give up.
“I am a lover of life,” Carlo shares, “I am devoted to this industry and will continue to help it grow and change into the future.
Ellen Posner has spent over a decade in the field of news and media,
covering everything from business to pop culture and more.
Her passion for writing comes from asking the big questions that get to the heart of every story.