For the Shully family, every party is a
A story that begins with
getting to know each customer and their vision, and wraps with a
perfectly orchestrated, utterly distinctive event that showcases the
Shully’s Cuisine and Events team’s flair for food and hosting.
Over the past 35 years,
Shully’s has been a household name in the metro Milwaukee area for
gourmet catering. With the addition of three family members and two
venues — The Watermark, which opened in 2013, and ATS (short for
Across the Street, which it is) in 2016 — Shully’s is building its
brand to include the family’s unique approach to a total event
experience, personalized for every client.
Beth and Scott Shully started
Shully’s Cuisine 35 years ago in the lower level of their home. Beth
had prior catering experience and recognized that Scott boasted
unique talents as a chef. They quickly cemented their roles as
partners, Scott handling all things cuisine and Beth tackling
finances and logistics. Sitting down with all five family members
decades later, it’s obvious that their distinct personalities give
this successful business its flavor. There’s a natural ease among
them and a witty banter, with an air of friendly competition. Beth
welcomes me with a hospitable embrace, and when it was time to start
the interview, Scott chimed in first and proudly announced his age
and title, giddy like a kid on the first day of school, his affable
smile and gentle eyes taming his towering presence and booming
But this is a family affair.
With her nurturing demeanor and patient tone, Beth delicately
reminds Scott to allow the children to do most of the talking. The
effort quickly and comically backfired when her offspring tease her
about not being able to articulate her thoughts.
Nina Darling, 33, is the
eldest of Beth and Scott’s brood and was the first to join the
family business in 2015 as an event planner. Shortly after, Jacob
Shully, 32, moved back from New York and joined Shully’s as general
manager. Hadley Shully, 30, is the baby of the family and
self-proclaimed “wild card.” She studied at the International
Culinary Center in New York (crashing on Jacob’s couch) and worked
in Italy and Chicago before she joined Shully’s as a sous-chef.
In Chicago, Hadley honed her
skills at top restaurants like The Girl and the Goat and Roister.
Unabashedly, Scott calls her talent still untapped. Hadley’s
mischievous grin tells it all — she’s the charming, risk-taking
little sister. In fact, all of the children’s personalities are in
line with the common traits of birth order. Nina is conscientious
and a natural leader, and soft-spoken Jacob is the laid-back
For the Shully offspring,
joining the family business happened organically. They already
understood the trade well, so they were able to create roles that
fit a need. Jacob knew that operations would hum with some tweaks in
procedures and increased marketing efforts. Hadley spices up the
kitchen with creative direction, and Nina uses her training as a
teacher to take charge of planning and creating new community
Beth and Scott made their
children go through the same interview process as all of their
employees. “They’re right in the trenches with the other employees
and have earned their respect by proving that they’re willing to put
in the time and work hard,” says Scott.
Working with family,
especially for long hours in a high-pressure setting, can be
emotionally charged. “Addressing issues honestly and quickly is the
only way [we] are able to operate effectively as a unit,” says
Hadley. Beth adds, “We’re still learning how to talk to each other
respectfully when dealing with conflict.” But both Scott and Beth
stress that adding the new additions to the leadership team hasn’t
been difficult, just different. “Backing away and allowing the kids
to make a mistake and then using it as a teaching experience has
been the biggest challenge,” Scott notes.
One well worth the effort,
when Hadley looks at her parents and siblings and gushes, “I just
love that I get to work with my best friends every day.”
The family simultaneously
erupts into laughter when Jacob makes a joke about his parents’
inevitable retirement, which, Beth and Scott reveal, will happen
sooner rather than later. They haven’t decided on a timeline just
For now, the focus is on
perfecting an already thriving business, while smoothing internal
efficiencies. Jacob, Nina and Hadley bring a fresh approach to both
operations and events, introducing new software systems, and ideas
such as a Harry Potter themed pop-up dinner, wine and beer pairing
dinners with local makers and cooking classes held at ATS. “We’re
bringing the second-generation creativity, tying in young, fresh
ideas with classic, traditional cuisine,” says Hadley.
The Shully’s team is also
working on the next chapter in their story – personal and
professional — with Hadley’s wedding at The Watermark in June.
Hadley and her fiancé Daniel met four years ago working at Shully’s.
Not surprisingly, Jacob and Nina will be in the wedding.