Gigi Werbeckes, General Manager
I grew up in Reno and have always had a passion for all things events. I became a “foodie” during my time as an event director and assistant manager at the Caughlin Club, and as general manager of The Cheeseboard for 13 years. These experiences over two decades led me to The Grove – a perfect fit. My philosophy for managing a successful venue is creating a professional, inviting atmosphere where guests enjoy amazing food, served by welcoming staff.
My husband and I have a shared love of travel, especially after we became empty-nesters to our two sons. You’ll find us at Bucks Lake on the weekends, and we’re always ready for our next adventure and a good story.
Samantha Olson, Director of Sales
I spent time after college assisting with banquets when The Grove first opened in 2009, eventually growing into venue sales. In 2011, I ventured into the world of corporate event planning where I learned to plan large-scale events with even bigger budgets! My passion is finding creative ways to enhance already amazing businesses, so I switched gears to the sales & management side for a national linen rental company where I led a remote team and traveled the country building relationships for almost 6 years. After over a decade in this wonderful world of events, I’ve now returned to where it all started for me at The Grove. I truly missed sharing this beautiful space & delicious food with not only our brides & grooms but also our Reno community.
During off time, you will find me on the dance floor or at your local karaoke joint. I enjoy traveling with my husband, sometimes camping (glamping), cooking fancy dinners at home, WINE, and snuggling with our goldendoodle, Gandalf. I have a slight addiction to indoor cycling, Hamilton the musical, and movies with wizards.
Ginger Iuppa, Executive Chef
Although I had a degree in Anthropology from UC Davis, I always knew my true calling was in the kitchen. I enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in 2004, receiving a well-rounded education with a backbone in French technique. Since culinary school, I have worked in San Francisco, Portland and Denver in both catering, event planning and management. Reno eventually called me back home, where I became Catering Chef for The Cheeseboard for over 5 years. I missed the small-town vibe and the friendliness of the community. Since the food scene here is much smaller, it has fueled me to experiment with new cuisine and ingredients. My style is typically lighter and healthier dishes that use seasonal ingredients as much as possible, although I am not afraid to experiment with sugar and new dessert recipes!
On the home front, I have two young daughters whom I’m teaching to help in the kitchen at home so they can learn the importance of a balanced diet and bringing the family together around the dinner table.
James Kretschmer, Executive Chef
I never intended to become a chef, but I started part-time in the Arrowcreek Country Club kitchen 7 years ago to keep myself busy. I was immediately drawn in by the excitement of the profession. I loved the camaraderie, the adrenaline, the rush, the pace, and the noise of the kitchen. After this experience, I knew there were only two professions that would best fit my personality – a Chef or joining the circus because both allow you to play with fire and knives every day. After Arrowcreek, I worked at the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe to round-out my culinary education. I cooked alongside James Beard Award-winning Chefs and learned how to execute the finer points of upscale dining. After time at the Ritz, I returned to Reno and brought my new-found knowledge to at The Grove.
Outside of work I spend time outdoors and playing soccer with my wife, and young son Emerson.
Emily Gittens, Day of Coordinator
I have worked in guest relations for 30 years & nothing makes me happier than meeting new people and assisting them with throwing the wedding or event of a lifetime.
When I am not at The Grove, I enjoy time with my family, training in martial arts and traveling this beautiful world we live in.
Jennifer Petrilla, Day of Coordinator
I have been in the hospitality business since I was 17. My first job was at the Hyatt as a hostess, from there I loved the world of hospitality. I have been a florist, makeup artist, wedding and event planner for 20+ years. I took an Event and Wedding Planning course from the International School of Hospitality in 2008. I love the planning process, but love watching the finished product even more; no event is the same and I enjoy meeting all the new people. My role at The Grove is vital to the success of the event, I work with the Client as well as the event staff. I am there to ensure the timeline, and the event goes as planned.
I’ve lived and raised my three children in the Reno area for 14 years. I love all that the area has to offer. In my spare time you can find me in the mountains and at the lake. Or creating pieces of art in my garage.