Staff Blogger: Elizabeth Fantozzi- Marketing and Public Relations Manager

Lakeside Chautauqua is pleased to announce a new culinary partnership with Ward Catering.

“During our search for a new Lakeside caterer, Andy and Nickie Ward of Ward Catering stood out,” said Dan Dudley, Interim President & Chief Financial Officer at Lakeside Chautauqua. “The Wards have so much relevant experience that shows they’re capable of multitasking and able to produce quality cuisine for a high volume of people, which is ideal for Lakeside’s busy summer.”

The Wards bring more than 45 years of combined experience in the food service industry.

After high school, Nickie worked as General Manager of TGI Fridays for 12 years. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in education and is now a fifth grade teacher in Sandusky.

Andy served as Chef/Culinary Director at Edgewood Manor in Port Clinton for nine years before taking on the role of Chef/ Director of Culinary Services at Otterbein Marblehead SeniorLife Community for the last three and a half years.

Andy and Nickie have worked together at Sawmill Creek in Huron and J Bistro in Sandusky and found that they make a great team in the kitchen. The couple started their own business, Ward Catering, in 2010, alongside their full-time jobs.

“Andy and I take the ordinary and make it special,” said Nickie. “Ward Catering’s focus is excellent presentation and carrying out the client’s vision.”

Over the past decade, their business has thrived, catering parties of 12 to 500 people, including local events like Dancing with the Stars Ottawa County CASA and events at Camp Perry Lodging & Conference Center and the Port Clinton Yacht Club. The couple also owns a small kitchen in Sandusky, offering taste-testing and dining area seating for about 14 people. They plan to continue their work there in the fall, winter and spring.

Now, this dynamic duo is shifting their focus to catering Lakeside events. This will be Andy’s primary career, while Nickie will use her summer vacations from teaching to work in the business.

The couple is excited to introduce Lakesiders, guests, friends and families to revamped menus, which offer additional choices and more variety.

“We worked to create a menu that suits the clients in Lakeside,” said Nickie. “We gave people a lot of options, while making sure the prices are reasonable.”

They both agreed that their catering focus is all about pleasing the client.

“It’s rewarding when we cater for a special event, especially weddings and anniversaries,” said Nickie. “I always love to see how thrilled the clients are.”

Aside from catering, the Wards are looking forward to driving around in a golf cart this summer and exploring Lakeside with their family.

“There’s so much to do here! You have the pool, shows and the tennis courts. We can’t wait to bring our kids. They’re going to love it,” said Andy.

Andy has enjoyed coming to Lakeside to fish for walleye off of the dock. Working right outside the gates at Otterbein has allowed him the opportunity to visit and learn more about Lakeside and what the community has to offer.

“Lakeside really is a hidden gem,” he said. “We’re really excited for this opportunity.  It’s the right time for us in this chapter of our lives; it’s almost a new beginning for us. It’s now or never, and I couldn’t think of a better place. It just all fit together for us, and I think Lakeside will be a natural fit for the both of us.”

The Wards are looking for summer part-time employees to work on the catering staff. The couple plans to begin interviews soon. If interested, contact Andy and Nickie at

Thank you to Avery’s Café & Catering

Lakeside Chautauqua is grateful to Avery’s Café & Catering for their years of service working as Lakeside’s catering team and managers of the Hotel Lakeside Dining Room & Cafe. Their catering has played a significant role in the Lakeside experience for many families, friends and guests. We wish Scott and Josie Kluding luck with all their future endeavors.