By Leah Sander
ROCHESTER — Hospitality is a big part of the Swihart family of Rochester.
It’s something that they hope to bring to others through their wedding and event venue.
The Mentone Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon-cutting for the family’s wedding and event space Empeiria 110, on Thursday, May 20.
It’s located at 5729 Indiana 110, Rochester, around 8 miles west of Mentone. The space includes a main building with a reception space, bar area, groom’s den and bridal suite prep area. It also features an outdoor fountain, covered pavilion ceremony space and various outdoor backdrops for photos.
The Swiharts have enjoyed hosting family events for years, which influenced their creation of the venue.
“We just want to make sure that every guest that we have here feels like this is the day they dreamed of and we will make sure that we will go over and beyond and do whatever we can to make sure that they have that experience,” said Angie Swihart, who owns the business with her husband Lee.
“I feel like we as a family just love people so much that we want to make it about them and not about us. We don’t want to be a place that just says like here it is, here’s our facility. We want to make sure that we just go over and above,” she said.
The idea of providing a good experience led to the business’ name: Empeiria comes from the Greek word for experience. The 110 comes from the state road the facility is located along.
Two generations of the family have been involved in the business.
The couple’s son Trent has helped with business decisions, and their other son Bray helped with construction and design. Their daughter Lexi and daughter-in-law Cayla handle communication and consultations.
The family actually constructed much of the facility themselves. Lee Swihart runs All Star Builders.
Angie Swihart said the shutdown early in the pandemic actually helped with completion of the facility. It gave her time off from her main job to finish all of the boards in the main building.
As for COVID-19 affecting the opening of the business during the pandemic, she said it worked out pretty well.
They had a “soft opening” in August and hosted three weddings last year with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
“We were at the end of everything being shut, shut down, and there was a small opening and we were right in that small opening,” she said.
The pandemic has affected the business somewhat since then, with her noting that couples were somewhat apprehensive about booking for the spring of this year. The venue’s hosted two weddings so far this year.
Business is picking up though. Couples are booking for both this year and next, said Angie Swihart.
“Our Saturdays for next fall are completely gone. They’ve probably been gone for a month or two,” she said. “I think maybe even our August Saturdays are gone now; we might have one available.”
Couples have been coming from a distance to book weddings. Along with more local couples, there have been ones from the Valparaiso area, Terre Haute, Muncie area and Carmel. The venue is do three weddings for people from Chicago.
The venue also is to be the site of the wedding for a couple from Fort Wayne who originally wished to get married in Michigan. However, due to the state’s stricter COVID-19 rules for venues, the couple chose to use Empeiria 110 instead.
Future plans for the site are to convert a barn to a wedding chapel. As the venue hosts more than just weddings, Angie Swihart said she’s planning to have an event called the Christmas Princess Extravaganza later this year.
Women dressed as princesses will perform at it, and proceeds will go to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kosciusko County.
To find out more information about booking the venue for an event, people should visit the website empeiria110.com. There’s also a list of vendors there that couples may check out for weddings at Empeiria 110.