Meet the Team

Hallie DuanMeet our Team: Hallie Duan

Owner / Chef

Hallie moved to Madison 20 years ago from the northeast to raise her family in Madison, Georgia, a town that offers all of the benefits of small-town America. With a culinary background developed during years of dining in the New York metropolitan area and traveling abroad, Hallie fell in love with foods from all corners of the globe and decided to open up her own catering company: Hallie Jane’s Catering.

After many years in the business and mastering all aspects catering, Hallie decided she needed another project to work on. By this time she had catered numerous events and weddings, and decided that a venue would be the perfect addition to her catering business. After scoping out many properties, she decided on Empire Mills, a former cotton oil mill tucked right outside of town that had been dormant for some time. She purchased the property in 2012 and within the guidelines of the Georgia State Historic Preservation Division and the National Park Service, has  renovated and restored this beautiful gem while adding modern design elements and amenities to suit the specific needs of modern day events. Hallie is extremely passionate about Empire Mills and her catering company and is excited that she gets to combine the two and deliver unforgettable memories for people on their special day!

 

Kathleen Ruark

 Sales ManagerMeet our Team: Kathleen Ruark

Kathleen Ruark started working for Hallie Jane’s Catering when she was in high school in Madison. Thirteen years later, rising to her current position, it is safe to say, she has been a great addition to the HJC family. By starting out on the wait staff at age 15, Kathleen has seen all sides of the catering and events industry. Likewise, her years of experience to every possible situation, client, style of event and inside look at the HJC approach to servicing these variables has made her wise and capable beyond her years.

Once graduating from The University of Georgia in 2009, Kathleen returned to HJC as an event coordinator mentoring under Bethany Iverson, the HJC sales manager at that time. With amazing attention to detail, knowledge of the HJC systems, and an unending patience for even the most difficult of clients, Bethany passed on everything Kathleen needed to be the successful sales and account manager she is today.

Now Kathleen manages both HJC and Empire Mills sales. She is the first point of contact answering all questions regarding weddings and events at Empire Mills. If you’re looking to plan your special day here, Kathleen will be extremely helpful for her prior years of experience in event coordination has made her an event connoisseur. From linens to layouts to vendors, her knowledge of event planning is extensive and will be indispensable when planning your special event here.

Alex Corley 

Director of Operations and Staffing Manager

Alex has been in the service industry for over 13 years. He started with a local catering company while attending college at the University of Georgia. After graduating with a business degree from Terry College of Business in 2004, he went on to manage Harry Bissett’s in downtown Athens. Five years later Alex began working events at Hallie Jane’s Catering. He quickly rose through the ranks utilizing his service and management experience becoming HJC’s first salaried Staffing Manager. In this role, he specializes in hiring, training, scheduling and maintaining staff (servers, set-up crews, and bartenders) for all of HJC and Empire Mill’s events.

Within a short period of time, Alex’s incredible attention to detail and accounting abilities earned him another promotion (or additional responsibility, as it were) to his current position of Operations Manager. In this role, Alex worked with HJC’s accountant to restructure HJC’s chart of accounts so as to better analyze and track the profitability and efficiencies within the company as well as within a particular event. He also successfully set up all vendors on terms, manages monthly and quarterly taxes, reconciles monthly books and manages all accounts payable/receivable and payroll. On top of all of his office duties, Alex is also an occasional event manager for Empire Mills and HJC. Being an event manager, Alex has been able to utilize his previous experience to help train new employees. Along with Kathleen, Alex has been invaluable to the success of both Hallie Jane’s Catering and Empire Mills.

 

Brandon Griggs

Warehouse Manager

Brandon has been with us for a very short period yet within that short period has proved time and time again that he plays an important role in this company. His effort certainly does not go unnoticed! Brandon originally was employed as a catering staff member for HJC in 2017, but yearned for a more stable role with more responsibilities. As a fast and eager learner, he swiftly made his way up the ladder in HJC and Empire Mills with ease becoming an event manager alongside Alex Corley and Alex Ugolini.

With his newly acquired role, Brandon has gathered vital  knowledge regarding event managing such as time management, food display, and importance of communication. This proved to help him later on when the position of warehouse manager opened up. Brandon eagerly offered to step in and help and due to his background in construction and warehouse, was the perfect fit! With the help of Sandra Preston, the previous warehouse manager, and Alex Ugolini, Brandon quickly learned his way around the warehouse and office and continues to wow us with his amazing work ethic today.

Some of his daily duties include making sure everything needed for events is gathered and prepared, setting up the physical layout at Empire Mills for upcoming events, making sure our inventory is stocked properly each week, and maintaining the grounds. So far, Brandon loves working at Empire Mills/HJC and is extremely grateful to have such a great work environment.

 

Tammy Vick

 Kitchen Manager

Tammy joined the HJC team 2 years ago, coming in with thirty years of hospitality/culinary experience. With a strong background in management and culinary training, ranging from 5-star dining to home-style cooking, Tammy has become an invaluable asset and leader for HJC. Tammy moved to Georgia from Florida where she managed 2 different restaurants over a 20 year period. Working alongside Hallie in the kitchen during peak season and when specialty menus arise, Tammy has a wonderful ability to transition from Kitchen Manager into Sous Chef mode. She has been Serve-Safe certified for over 20 years. Daily responsibilities for Tammy include ordering trucks, trips to farmer’s market/Sam’s club, inventory management, scheduling support staff, cooking for client tastings, costing and quantifying recipes, and of course, lots and lots of cooking for events.