By Diane Mastrull
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Party Host Helpers” answers calls for bartenders, servers, and coat checkers in 26 cities. Founder Renée Patrone says the biz all began with a phone call from someone looking for a bartender who knew how to make mojitos!
There’s boldness in business. Even brashness. Then there’s Renée Patrone’s style — not cocky, more like an aversion to saying no.
That seems the most logical explanation for why the Wayne resident did what she did that day in February 2015 when she answered the phone, listened, and then told the caller, as Patrone recalled recently: “OK. All right. I can do this. No problem.”
Then she hung up and wondered just how the heck she was going to pull off what she had just agreed to: Provide a bartender proficient in the art of making mojitos — for a party clear across the country in Malibu, Calif.
Patrone would turn to her vast network of Facebook friends — currently more than 3,300. Tom Petrucci, whom Patrone had met through a public relations job she once held, had recently moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. When he saw Patrone’s Facebook message, he volunteered to be that bartender.
“He did a great job,” Patrone said. “From that, it sort of like launched my brain into dreaming even bigger than I already was.”
What she was at the time was head of Events by Renée, which the South Jersey native formed in 2009 to indulge that passion for theater she developed as a student at Highland Regional High School in Blackwood: “Putting on a production.”
Patrone had been in Dallas with Events by Renée, overseeing a recruitment affair for a pharmaceutical company, when she got the call requesting the bartender. It was made to a 1-800 number Patrone had established for what was then a fledgling Philadelphia-focused side business to her events-planning company. She had just launched Party Host Helpers in 2014, expecting it would be a “great supplemental income” to Events by Renée.