On the evening of March 15th, a special event in Gladiators history took place. Little Gardens Restaurant in Lawrenceville hosted the first ever Fed by the Gladiators charity dinner and auction. The team put down their sticks and picked up the serving trays for a night of fun, food, and generosity. The evening started off with a meet and greet session with the team as they awaited everyone’s arrival. We couldn’t have asked for better weather as the crowd used the patio, with its spectacular view of the gardens, to their full advantage. Fans mingled with their favorites while taking in the restaurant and the silent auction taking place. Many great items were up for bidding, such as an autographed Ilya Kovalchuk Thrashers jersey, a Cam Brown autographed stick, tickets to upcoming Hawks and Thrashers games, and many other sports related items.
Once Maximus had finished taking pictures with everyone (he’s quite the photogenic lion) the DJ called everyone to their seats. Out streamed the players from the kitchen with trays loaded to the brim with Hip Check Garden Salads. It was quite the ballet as the likes of Lane Manson and Jon Awe stealthy navigated the dining area with mounds of leafy greens perched atop their already towering shoulders. Once the appropriately named “first period” was over, the team tried to catch a moment to rest their already weary legs outside the kitchen. Duty called, however, and they poured back out, clamoring to clear the empty salad bowls in time for the second period.
The ever-skilled eyes of the Little Gardens wait staff made sure nothing went flying and everything got where it was supposed to go as the guys paraded out the entrées – a personal selection from the finest choices of Black Eye Teriyaki Sirloin, Checked Against the Boards Breast of Chicken, Pasta Marinara with Missing Tooth Meatballs, or Broken Stick Vegetarian Strudel. Gladiators’ right winger Guillaume Desbiens demonstrated his masterful grasp of the art of serving throughout the evening, punctuating his stellar service with accented pleasantries and crazy attention to detail that would leave any seasoned industry veteran impressed.
Speaking of veterans, Captain Cam Brown and Rick Emmett added just a touch of experience to the evening, helping to keep the guys focused and out of the waiting vittles in the kitchen. After a small rest…an intermission, if you will…the team headed back out to round up the entrée plates. By this point in the evening, everything was running smoothly and the team had morphed into a well versed wait staff. Shortly thereafter, breathtaking desert plates featuring Bench Clearing Chocolate and Raspberry Layered Cake began making their way out of the kitchen. We’re happy to report that as far as we could tell, every dessert actually made it to the table and wasn’t consumed en route!
With the dinner portion of the evening concluded, the team could breathe a sigh of relief and revel in the fact that nothing got dropped, broken, or spilled. It was now time for the t-shirt auction. Special shirts, commemorating the event, had been made and given to each player. During their stint as waiters, the players sported the shirts and were careful to not spill anything on them. (For the most part!) For the auction, and much like the jersey auction a few nights previous, each player modeled his attire and then autographed it for the winning bidder. Things got interesting as the night went on…with items like centerpieces and napkins being tossed into the auction process. His professional dedication must have paid off, however, because Desbiens’ shirt garnered the highest bid at a whopping $600. Rounding out the auction festivities were the silent auctions, which had been running throughout the night and closed up following the t-shirts. Everyone collected their winnings and said their goodbyes as they headed for the door – stuffed and happy!
All in the all, the evening was a monstrous success. From the proceeds, the Gladiators were able to present the Gwinnett Children’s Shelter with a $7500 check at this past Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Checkers. The remainder of the proceeds will go to the Gladiators Foundation for Kids. A good time was had by all, proceeds were raised for a great cause, and no plates of food lost the battle with gravity! You couldn’t have asked for a better evening!
THE GLADIATORS WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING:
Northeast Sales and Distributing
DJ Bruce King
The Festivities Begin...
A clever sign outside of Little Gardens directs everyone to the banquet room.
Upon entering the restaurant, Karen English was on hand to check everyone in while Denise Barros worked the hostess angle, directing everyone to their tables. Jennifer Anderson shared shutterbug duties for the evening!
Heading out for some fresh air and frolicking amongst the flowers, Maximus clowns around for Dustin Bixby as he films a segment for the local news.
The beautiful banquet room that housed the event at Little Gardens has been host to many receptions, parties, and meetings...but has never seen the likes of a team of hockey players and a giant lion!
If guests were to look to the right upon entering, they were greeted with a beautiful garden view...and most proceeded quickly to open patio that was availible to us for the night.
A commemorative puck, personalized place card, and spiffy menu selection awaited the guests at each place setting.
Gladiator-themed centerpieces, courtesy of Buford Florist, adorned each table - and also ended up in a few auctions!!
The Silent Auction...
So large it required two tables, the right side of the Silent Auction included an autographed Cam Brown stick, a framed Gladiators schedule poster signed by the team, and goodies from the Chicago Wolves...as well as other items.
The left side of the room showcased, amongst a plethora of sports goodies, a football and mini helmet autographed by former Atlanta Falcon Jamal Anderson, tickets to upcoming Hawks and Thrashers games, and and autographed Ilya Kovalchuk jersey.
Mingling with the fans...
Apparently hungry, Gladiators defenseman Lane Manson chews on a pen cap while signing autographs for fans.
Little Gardens General Manager Joe Fidelibus shares a laugh with Gladiators President and GM Steve Chapman and a fan.
Sensing a lull in the photo taking action, Maximus grabs Denise Barros for a quick photo shoot - complete with the requisite pose!
Although we don't recall any line dancing during the evening, Jeff Dwyer and Danny Eberly appear to be in step with each other and some fans. Guillaume Desbiens stands in the background, perhaps extolling the virtues of taking serving seriously.
In the hot seat...
Gladiators Captain Cam Brown prophesizes on what it means to be Fed by a Gladiator...and who'll be the first to drop something!
Defensemen Jon Awe and Matt York work their game show host smiles while preparing for the upcoming interview from Dustin Bixby.
Serving it up, First Period style!
Lane Manson leads the charge as the first trays of salad roll out of the kitchen! So far so good, but we've just begun...
Jeff Dwyer catches some last minute pointers as he heads out of the kitchen with his first order.
Utilizing said pointers, and demonstrating the Gladiators teamwork mentallity, Dwyer holds the tray while Danny Eberly passes out the first course.
After an exhausting round of passing out lettuce, goalie Sean Fields and foward Joel Stepp rest their weary feet.
Second Period - Entrées!
Foward Brian Teixeira balances a tray containing piping hot entrées while Lane Manson looks on.
Adam Smyth focuses on making it through the doorway while Sue, a Little Gardens staff member and serving mentor to the players for the evening, prepares the next tray for departure.
Danny Eberly and his mohawk concentrate on making it to Table 5 without dropping anything.
Jon Awe and Rick Emmett remove the lids from their entrées in preparation..
for them to then pass the dishes out to their table. Eat up!
Sean Fields makes sure that his table has everything they'll need before they dig in to the fabulous grub!
Roll Brigade! (And another round of resting...)
Defenseman Steve Slaton, foward Milan Gajic, and Guillaume Desbiens gather around the kitchen for their baskets of rolls to hand out. There may have been a roll or two lost in the battle!
Lane Manson and forward Brad Schell commandeer the chairs outside the kitchen while they wait for their next set of instructions.
Desert for the Third Period
Brian Teixeira and Matt York wait in line to receive their sweets before heading back out.
Joel Stepp follows Captain Cam Brown, who was wielding the desert tray for their table, to assist in the passing out process.
Jon Awe, Matt York, Guillaume Desbiens, Steve Slaton, and Derek Nesbitt chill out by the kitchen while allowing the fans to finish their deserts.
Sean Fields consults his table before clearing any of the plates off...that chocolate cake was delicious, and therefore shouldn't be cleared prematurely!
Super server Guillaume Desbiens and Matt York head back towards the kitchen after double checking to make sure their table was completely clear for the pending auction.
Leading the charge of a different sort - Lane Manson finds himself anchoring an American Idol worthy rendition of "Happy Birthday" for a fan. Please direct all record contract offers to the Gladiators front office!!
Handing out the proceeds...
Maximus joins Steve Chapman, Joe Fidelibus, Little Gardens Controller Pam Wood, and a couple of young Gladiator fans as they present a check to the Gwinnett Children's Shelter for $7500. The check was presented to Susie Ryan, Development Director of the shelter, during the 1st Intermission of Saturday's game against the Charlotte Checkers.
photos by Christi Johnson and Jennifer Anderson
Again, the Gladiators would like to thank everyone who participated in, served in, or helped with this spectacular evening...we had a blast and hope you did, too.