By Christina Autry
Driving down Kirby in the Five Corners District, among the pastures and new construction projects, a castle is the last thing you’d expect to see. But turrets flanking a 25,000 square foot castle-themed event hall is exactly what sits behind black and gold iron gates.
The founders behind this site to behold is married couple Sara and Jay Bhatti, who designed this structure to look like a Scottish castle — with a modern, luxurious flair. Constructed with classic white stone blocks and gray brick turrets, the building does its job to suggest an imminent royal experience. Opening the large hand-carved wooden doors reveals a bright, expansive venue with 26-foot ceilings and an immediate sense of elegance.
Renting the venue means having access to all three rooms in the facility: the Kingsley Enclave, Kingsley Ballroom, the Empress Enclave, plus the outdoor patio spaces often used for cocktail hour. The facility has an immense seating capacity, which has proved successful even when put to the test of entertaining a group of 2,500 people.
The Enclave boasts large decorative glass doors which bring in copious amounts of natural light into the large room, which is perfectly suited for weddings with its domed stage area, and changing suite off to the side. Citadel contains four total changing suites, for the convenience of wedding participants, gala-goers, quinceañera partiers, or guests of the many other events that take place here.
Connected to the Enclave is the Ballroom, complete with chandeliers and recessed lighting which reflect off the Italian marble floors creating a magical, starry effect. Two iron-wrought staircases at the front of the Ballroom connect at the top for a perfect VIP entrance opportunity.
The third room, the Empress Enclave, is revealed when doors open on the west side of the Ballroom. This space is a chapel-sized room with glass doors and stage in the same style as, though smaller than, the Kingsley Enclave stage.
Founder Sara Bhatty, originally from India, has a PhD in Finance, and has work on Wall Street in her resume. After being laid off from a job in Houston, she took the unforeseen opportunity to turn her ambitions to something completely different. Sara and her husband first opened the Mediterranean-themed Dukessa event space in the Galleria area, and in 2016, opened Citadel in the Five Corners District.
If you decide to use Citadel for your next event, you’re guaranteed to be working with Rebecca Marek, Venue Director, and Kellsie Winkler, the Event Assistant. You’ll have their undivided attention in the planning phases and when it’s showtime for your event. “We only book one event per day, so we can focus entirely on your event,” says Marek.
“It’s a great location,” says Rebecca Marek, Venue Director. “We’re close to the medical center, Pearland, downtown, and 288,” she says. “It has a somewhat country feel, while being close to the city.” This location provides the perfect combination of factors for many people: a large space, with accessibility to many parts of Houston.
“The space is decorated in a way that lends itself to styles of all kinds. It’s a beautiful space without having to provide a lot of extra décor,” says Marek. As Citadel offers to take care of the many components involved in the event, such as dining and beverages, valet, cake cutting, and more, “We always say, all brides have to do is bring their dress!”
Chef Ross Coleman is the site’s Executive Chef, overseeing the Citadel and Dukessa culinary teams. Coleman was one of the founders of Kitchen 713, as well as a James Beard Semi-Finalist in the Best Chef Southwest division. Coleman offers traditional Italian, French and American style wedding dishes as well as diverse dishes from around the world. “They’ve prepared jambalaya with blackened red fish, Asian items, Nigerian food, and more,” says Marek.
Through online avenues such as The Knot or Wedding Wire, those searching for wedding venues have narrowed down their options to Citadel. Word-of-mouth, and outside catering events that Citadel participates in are other ways that people are finding out about this venue.
“It’s great being involved with so many people during important parts of their lives. Every event is different and everyone we work with is different,” says Marek. “It’s sometimes surprising to see what choices people make, and what their customized event turns out like,” says Winkler. “I’m excited to be part of that process, from start to finish.”