BOBBY AND SUE ASARO
THE SOUTHERN OAKS STORY
“I am so proud of what we have accomplished,” beams Bobby, crediting their success to an intense focus on great food and exceptional service. “In New Orleans, the food has to be good. You can have a beautiful setting, but if the food is no good, the venue doesn’t work.” This is why Southern Oaks provides one inclusive package providing everything needed, instead of several, differing tiers.
Beautiful Chiavari chairs, sparkling crystal chandeliers, perfectly manicured lawns, magnificently presented cuisine—details like these have differentiated Southern Oaks Plantation from other venues since our inception. However, more than the décor, the landscaping, or the incredible menu, it is the hard work of two very unique and ambitious individuals that has made Southern Oaks Plantation one of the most awarded wedding venues in Louisiana.
The story of Southern Oaks Plantation dates back more than twenty-eight years, when New Orleans natives and newlyweds Bobby and Sue Asaro were working in the medical field. After almost ten years in medicine, Bobby as a vascular technologist and Sue as an ultrasound technician, they were anxious to move onward, upward, and embark on a new challenge. Bobby had recently become engrossed in photography, and began shooting weddings as a progression of his new hobby. Sue was soon joining him during the events. Together—young, creative, and energetic—Bobby and Sue quickly became the most sought after photographers in the business.
However, after working so closely with brides, wedding reception venues, and catering companies, Bobby realized something was missing: personalized service. As he recollects, “While shooting weddings in the mid 80’s, I noticed there was nobody paying personal attention to the bride, groom, or their parents. That is when the idea of Southern Oaks Plantation began to evolve.” During dinner one evening, Bobby began sketching on a napkin, conveying to Sue his idea of opening their own reception venue. He was determined to realize his ambitious dream, and decided the first step was to find a suitable location.
While driving along Hayne Boulevard one afternoon, Bobby happened to catch a glimpse of a stately antebellum-style home sitting vacant and neglected. Although most people drove by and noticed only the overgrown landscaping and a boarded up building, Bobby knew it could be the beautiful venue he had imagined. However, a string of six failed businesses occupied the building after the home’s original owners moved out, leading many to conclude the mansion was cursed. The Asaros’ friends and family members tried to persuade them from investing their money in a doomed venture, but Bobby was convinced they would buck the trend and achieve success.
In January of 1987, Bobby and Sue Asaro opened the gates of the newly christened “Southern Oaks Plantation” for the first time, and incredulously, the bad luck that had shadowed the property for years seemed to vanish instantly. They booked their first celebration that very same day.
“Most people can’t believe how organized we are, and how everything is accomplished in a professional, timely manner.” Excellence is the sum of many little things done well, and the Asaros are very conscious of those little things. Atmosphere, body language, smiles, and cleanliness are carefully monitored during the ceremonies and receptions. Bobby and Sue believe in impeccable service, and they aim to exceed the expectations of everyone who attends a reception at Southern Oaks Plantation.
When looking for inspiration, the Asaros sought out the best in the business. Walt Disney and the Disney Company have been tremendous influences on Southern Oaks. “He is my idol. The man was a genius,” says Bobby. Having attended numerous seminars at the Disney Institute, many pieces of the Asaros’ operation are modeled after the Disney theme. “Each employee is hand-picked, and each understands our philosophy of top service. They are all properly attired, neat, approachable, and smiling. Our employees are genuinely proud to work at Southern Oaks.”
Over the years, as business has increased, so has Bobby and Sue Asaros’ vision for new ways to improve their operation. As Bobby says, “It was easy making it to the top. The challenge is finding how to remain there.” Of all the wedding venues in Louisiana, only Southern Oaks Plantation has won the “Bride’s Choice Award” from WeddingWire and been selected as a “Best of Weddings” Pick by The Knot for the last three consecutive years. Southern Oaks has also been chosen as one of New Orleans’ top wedding venues for 2012 by Brides Magazine, and been voted the #1 “Place to Get Married” in The Times-Picayune 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards. We are incredibly proud of these recent accolades, but recognize our hard work is not finished. Our team is dedicated to evolutionary change and continuously improving the Southern Oaks experience. We want to exceed the high expectations of every guest at each celebration.