Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 13 August 2010 12:19
Young 20-somethings are notoriously hard to pin down on the subject of what they want to do vocationally; with so many possibilities to explore, picking a career path is no easy task. However, for 22-year old Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School alumnus Raina Hirschhorn, opening Raina’s Place- a new private party room in Woodbury- was an endeavor where she displayed no hesitation whatsoever.
“I actually graduated in three years, because I always knew I wanted to open my own business, so I’d rather put the money towards my own business in this kind of economy, and I just happened to take a lot of credits at a time,” said Hirschhorn of her time at SUNY Binghamton. Focused throughout college, she majored in theater production because it was the closest thing to event production that she could find. Furthermore, the decision to accelerate her college experience wasn’t solely about money: “I just knew what I wanted to do, so why drag it out?” she said.
A Long Island native who attended Stratford Road Elementary School and Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School before graduating from POBJFK HS in 2006, Hirschhorn got the idea for her business from her own experience as a party-goer in the area. The young entrepreneur said that she and her friends often felt “squished” when attending parties in restaurants.
“I always said, ‘there’s nowhere for people to go; why not have a big living room with karaoke, a pool table, and things to do?” she explained, going on to say that she first started putting ideas for Raina’s Place together during her teenage years- a time when many people attend plenty of parties, but are too young to go to a bar.
In addition, her idea for a party place allowed for people to bring in food from restaurants that don’t have their own party rooms, such as her own personal favorite: La Piazza.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hirschhorn’s parents have been very supportive of the new venture: “They feel like it’s a great idea and our community really needs something like this,” said Hirschhorn of her parents.
The aim of Raina’s Place is to provide a location for bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties, dinner parties, holiday dinners, reunions and other get-togethers. The venue has space to accommodate up to 50 guests with lounge couches, a pool table, a plasma TV and karaoke. Raina’s Place can organize a menu with a caterer, hosts can arrange the food themselves, or even cook a homemade meal for their guests. While the location is primarily targeted at adult parties, Hirschhorn says that they can accommodate children’s parties; she’s particularly interested in hosting scrapbooking-themed parties for all ages.
In the future, she said that she would like to look into hosting creative special events, like karaoke nights or TV series finale parties, where people could bring their friends, although the business will have to apply for special permits in order to allow for open admission.
However, Hirschhorn’s ambitions extend beyond strictly business- ultimately, she would like to be able to use Raina’s Place in a charitable capacity as well. Despite her young age, the graduate already has a history of charity work.
During her senior year of high school, she and classmate Allyson Genshaft organized Operation Stone Soup as one of their activities for New York DECA, a not-for-profit educational association. While many DECA activities are more entrepreneurial in nature, Hirschhorn and Genshaft choose to take on the “Civic Consciousness” project, which involves raising money for a charity.
“A lot of them were making business plans- ‘what would you do’ and ‘what if’- and we wanted to do the one where you really raise money for a charity. And we raised over $3,000 dollars doing a holiday sale,” said Hirschhorn. All proceeds from the sale went to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Continuing with the theme of helping children, Hirschhorn would like to start a charity focused on throwing birthday parties for under-privileged children who have never had their own party; she’s also interested in holding fundraisers at her venue.
Still, before hosting charity events, Raina’s Place has to get established, and Hirschhorn, along with her friends and family, have just started. They held a mock-party brunch on July 24 for friends, and are planning to start hosting parties as soon as possible. While the venue is still waiting for the last few pieces of furniture to arrive, Hirschhorn says that Raina’s Place is now open for business. There will be an open-house event for event planners on August 25 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. however, everyone is welcome to attend.
To find out more about Raina’s Place, visit the website at www.rainasplace.com.