Holbrook and Lytle’s Timeless Venue – The Rustic Rose in Red Bluff
By Melissa Mendonca
With Love & Laughter
By Melissa Mendonca
Between their various ventures, Red Bluff’s Randy Holbrook and Valerie Lytle have an opportunity to be part of some of the most sacred moments in people’s lives. Holbrook, an internationally renowned potter who is the largest supplier of handmade communion ware, sends baptismal fonts, chalices and even funeral urns throughout the United States and several other countries. It’s a career he’s built over 40 years and he says, “I can’t even imagine doing anything else.”
But he is doing more, and his latest work, in partnership with his love Lytle, is gaining popularity, allowing the couple to host weddings, class reunions and corporate parties at their event venue, the Rustic Rose.
The business, much like their relationship, came on quickly and strongly in 2010, not long after Lytle moved from Santa Cruz to be with Holbrook. They were a successful match made by Lytle’s sister-in-law, Debbie, even though Lytle never imagined she’d leave her beloved Santa Cruz ocean.
Settling into Holbrook’s home and property, which he’s been developing for more than 30 years, Lytle found that her love of cooking and decorating complemented Holbrook’s social nature and love of hosting parties. Pretty soon the couple were known for their big gatherings for family and friends seemingly every other week.
Eventually, a friend asked to use their large backyard for her wedding reception. Not long after, a request came in to host both the wedding ceremony and reception. “Afterwards we got this wild hair, this crazy idea,” says Lytle. What if they turned their large backyard into an event center?
It would mean turning a tack room into a bride’s room, an exercise room into a groom’s room, and a goat barn into a bar. But it would also mean a lot of fun for the couple, and a business that complements their social natures and Lytle’s love of decorating.
“It’s Western but it’s shabby chic and it’s vintage,” she says of the venue. Each year the couple add to the décor and landscaping, including bringing in an old rusty pickup truck where they’ve planted flowers in the bed to create a unique area for photos. This year, they will create another photo area under a huge fig tree, complete with an archway cut out from the limbs.
Holbrook’s handiwork is everywhere, creating spaces for Lytle to develop vignettes. There is whimsy, but there’s also practicality. Consider the cake gazebo that Holbrook built, complete with an air conditioner underneath to keep a cake cool on Red Bluff’s hottest days. There is a stage for live music and a permanent dance floor, as well as a kitchen for caterers. Holbrook keeps a small retail area at the venue for people needing last-minute wedding gifts of his pottery or just a nice, handmade souvenir to take home from Red Bluff.
As the couple started building the Rustic Rose in earnest, they also ended up taking back Holbrook’s pottery shop in downtown Red Bluff, which he had earlier sold. Lytle began running the shop while also developing the venue. That gave the couple three ventures to work on: a retail venue, an event center and Holbrook’s wholesale pottery line.
It’s a life that keeps them busy year round. Just as the Christmas retail season winds down, “then we do the communion stuff,” says Holbrook. “Easter is like another Christmas. Then after Easter, it’s wedding season.” The couple also like to take their pottery business on the road to craft events, such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
“We’ve met so many nice people,” says Lytle, noting that they’ve hosted a couple at the Rustic Rose from San Jose who found them on the internet, as well as a pair of truckers who parked their semis nose to nose as a backdrop to their ceremony as they rode in on horseback. “Yeah, that’s the best part,” says Holbrook in agreement.
Lytle takes special joy in visits she receives from the very first bride to marry at the Rustic Rose, back before the venue was named or imagined. Every once in awhile she’ll pop into the downtown retail shop with her baby to say hello. Out of that first commitment has come a beautiful new child as well as a joyous business that complements the talents of two people who are developing their own love story.
The Rustic Rose