Give a Ranch Hand Hello to Our

Special Events Manager Erika!

With our jubilant, colorful atmosphere, Catalyst Ranch is the perfect venue for more than creative meetings: we host the most memorable special events, too.

And because hosting those special events—Weddings, Fundraisers, Mitzvahs and more—has its own herd of boxes to check, we have someone on staff whose duty it is to keep them all wrangled and reined in.  Allow us to introduce our resident Patron Saint of Parties, Erika Freihofer!

Erika has been on the Catalyst Ranch team since the summer and is already a pro at all things Catalyst Ranch. If you’ve got an event coming up that you want filled with our flair, click the Inquiry button below, and you’ll be working with Erika soon enough!


In the meantime, we sat down to get to know our go-to gatherings expert a little better:

Erika, you’ve been on staff as Special Events Manager for a couple months. And it should be mentioned—or rather exclaimed—that you’re also our new Assistant Operations Manager!

You’re a total rock star and a wonderful addition to our roster of Super Heroes. We’re curious, what is your Super Hero origin story? What has brought you to here and now?

I’ve been working in various facets of the service industry for a decade now (I can hardly believe it!), and I realized pretty early on that I really enjoyed the hustle-and-bustle of this field. I’ve done everything from hosting, serving, and bartending to managing teams and planning events. I’m also active in the local film industry, working primarily in art direction, where I contribute to set design, prop management, costumes, and more.

Catalyst Ranch is the perfect marriage of these interests for me – the excitement and sense of occasion that comes with planning events, and the attention to detail and sense of environment that comes with making films.

And in my spare time, I tend to my constantly growing plant collection (I’m not a hoarder mom, I swear!).

And what would you say your super powers are?

Well, if that’s my “origin story”, then I guess my super powers would be memorizing details at the speed of light, leaping from job to job in a single bound, and a magical green thumb!

Now that you know the ins and outs of Chicago’s Most Creative Meetings and Events Venue, what do you love most about this place?

There’s so much to love! The staff here is one of the greatest groups of people I’ve ever worked with, I look forward to seeing them every morning. Also, the color – so much color! A cubicle will never compete.

What’s your favorite part of having a hand in the Operations of Catalyst Ranch?

This is such a special space to operate, I feel like I found a four-leaf clover. I don’t know any other venues with such a wide variety of décor, and it all melds together seamlessly! There’s a lot of possibilities in this space, and being able to flex my creative muscles on a daily basis is so valuable to me.

Do you have a favorite piece of décor here at the moment?

It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of décor, but mine might be the holographic Yellow Submarine print that hangs on the wall in the Cha-Cha room (who doesn’t have a soft spot for The Beatles?)

You’ve already seen a bunch of fabulous weddings and events here. Have there been any standout elements that have wowed or surprised you?

The décor here is definitely an element that’s bound to “wow” anyone, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing how different guests want to approach design. We hosted a Hindu pre-wedding ceremony called a “gaye holud” a few weeks ago, and the décor that the hosts chose was stunning. Everything was so vibrant, and complimented our space perfectly. Our venue is definitely unique, and it thrills me when clients are able to bring the vision for their event together with the possibilities of our space, and create a unique experience that they wouldn’t be able to replicate elsewhere.

I’m also consistently wowed by the catering that rolls through our doors – a PB&J for lunch will never cut it again!

Has there been anything about Catalyst Ranch that has surprised you since getting to know it?

You know, as far as surprises go, nothing stands out yet, other than being pleasantly surprised on a daily basis by the dedication of our team.

And a quick-fire game of EITHER OR: (make your own rules. You can throw out wild cards too if you care to)

Cosmic bowling or miniature golf? Cosmic Bowling.

Outer Space or Deep Ocean? Outer Space.

Parks and Rec or The Office? The Office.

Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett? I love redheads and I love funny ladies so this is sort of the ultimate showdown – but, Carol Burnett.

Sister Act 2 or Aliens? Anything with Whoopi automatically wins by default.

Chicago summer, fall, winter, or spring? Chicago fall. If only it lasted longer.

Chicago style pizza or Chicago style hot dog? A Chicago dog will always be one of my favorite foods. They should put “drag it through the garden” on my tombstone.