a sprawling special event estate, opened in March, brings a bit of the French Countryside to East Brunswick
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Light Impressions Photography, Milton Gil Photographers, and Gabelli Studio Photography
After owning and operating two successful New Jersey catering halls, reinventing the traditional wedding, and breathing new life into the upscale catering genre in the Garden State, Barry Maurillo, Joe Maurillo, and Vito Cucci happened upon an available 15-acre estate in 2016 and were inspired to add to their growing hospitality empire.
“We had been looking to expand to a third facility for some time, and when we found this location we knew it was right,” noted Cucci. “We immediately started making plans for the renovation, designing exactly how we wanted every aspect to look. We started demolition in April of 2016 and hosted our first event here in March of this year.”
Located in East Brunswick—midway between Manhattan and Philadelphia—the land, which was once owned by a developer and slated to house several condo complexes, now boasts elaborately manicured gardens, a private wedding chapel, and a grand ballroom. The mission behind Park Château Estate & Gardens, however, is straightforward: to be a wedding destination for couples from all over the United States.
“Our vision for this property was to create a beautiful French château, allowing visitors to step into the pages of a classic
French novel, by embracing gorgeous 17th century architecture and capturing the essence of romance,” Cucci said. “East Brunswick was first settled in the 17th century, so we designed the grounds and
gardens to evoke the classical beauty of that time period.”
The owners carefully selected classic French antiques to fill the
estate’s interiors—each piece adding detail and ambience to the
château’s architecture—and the wedding hall was designed to allow
for both indoor and outdoor weddings, with the New Jersey countryside as the backdrop.
“Everything is authentic, and the decor is of museum quality,”
Cucci said. “We handpicked beautiful stone pieces and wrought-iron balconies; you really feel like you’re in the French countryside as soon as you step onto the estate. The chapel is brand new, but it looks like it’s been here for a hundred years.”
When it came time to design a menu, build a staff, and create a
distinctive experience, the owners
“We’ve owned Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville for 15 years and the Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park for six years,” Cucci said. “Each property has its own charm. Nanina’s is designed like a Tuscan villa, while the Park Savoy is more of a turn-of-the-century mansion. When we were designing the Park Château, we drew from our experience with those venues to create a special ambience.”
The gallery (also called the lobby) features bronze statuary, while the library is decorated with dark wood and several fireplaces, and a wine room offers selections from all over the world. The bridal suite has its own hair salon (there’s a separate groom’s suite for the men). The Grand Ballroom features barreled ceilings, silver place settings, champagne glasses, and crystal chandeliers. The entire area opens up onto a veranda and the Versailles Garden, where, weather permitting, ceremonies can be performed.
“The chapel is so beautiful; we’ve had many brides opt to skip an outdoor ceremony, which is basically unheard of in the spring and summer months,” Cucci said. “But the chapel has so much charm and beauty, it’s hard to resist.”
The dinner menu features a range of choices, including pistachio-encrusted salmon, several styles of Chateaubriand, chicken topped with fig and cognac demi-glaze, and Chilean sea bass with escarole and beans. During the sumptuous cocktail hour, at stations called “Nanina’s” and “Park Savoy,” guests will find signature food items from the Park Château’s sister venues.
“We have established a wonderful reputation in New Jersey with our other venues, and guests recognize that,” Cucci said. “So we wanted to bring a little bit of that here. One of the most enticing aspects is that we are exclusive—we only host one bride at a time, one wedding at a time, so your event and your guests get our full attention.”
Based on the Park Château’s successful first three months, the owners are already planning for another expansion. “There are an additional four acres to the property where we’d like to put a hotel,” Cucci said. “We’re drawing interest from brides as far away as New England and Washington, D.C., so accommodations for all of our guests would be a welcome addition. When we first scouted this site, our initial thoughts were that it would be a travel destination and that brides from all over the country would be impressed with its magnificence. And now, just within the first few months, that’s what we’ve already seen.”
Park Chateau Estate & Gardens
678 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick / 732.238.4200 / parkchateau.com