By Leah Scalzadonna
GARWOOD, NJ-Event planner Cindy Williams works in a compact office with floral wallpaper, granite floors, piles of paperwork-and a bright blue lava lamp.
Williams is a general manager and partial owner of The Westwood, a catering hall in Garwood, N.J. Part of being a manager, Williams said, is booking clients and planning their weddings, sweet 16 parties, anniversary celebrations, and even funerals. She claims the lava lamp is her good luck charm.
“Through the years, I booked parties more years than others,” Williams said. “When event planning was the most of what I did, that lava lamp was a good luck charm.”
The lamp was discovered in Williams’ basement, a junk item that formerly belonged to her son. She planned to bring it to work as a sign of peace and tranquility, but her colleague, Cathy Jones, had other plans.
“I started turning it on as a joke,” Jones, a banquet manager and lead event coordinator, said. “It seemed like it brought us good luck, so it became a habit.”
The lamp sticks out in Williams’ office, which is decorated in autumnal shades of gold, green and orange. She has knickknacks and Halloween ornaments on her desk and end table, and pictures of her dogs, two shiatzu’s named Duke and Spanky, lining the walls.
“It doesn’t bother me that the lamp doesn’t match,” Williams said. “Once it’s lit, it looks more green than blue.”
On a busy day, her office will fill with the scents of roasting garlic, bubbling sauces and baking desserts from the kitchen in the back of the building. On a Monday, Williams’ day reserved for paperwork and tying up loose ends, the most noticeable aroma is a vanilla scented Yankee candle that’s nearly burnt to the bottom. While she speaks, she is consistently interrupted by the ringing of the office phone and her personal cell phone.
“I really do like what I do,” Williams said. “I enjoy it. I couldn’t work this much or this long if I didn’t love it.”
Williams started at The Westwood in 1976, when she answered phones part-time as a high school student. After graduating from the University of Delaware with a business degree in 1982, she returned as a manager.
In the past year, Williams and her brother have expanded to a second location, a restaurant in Hillsborough called The Landing.
“It’s a lot of work,” Williams said, taking in the invitations and framed photos from The Westwood’s 50th anniversary celebration that frame her doorway. “But it means a lot.”