By Lauren Catherine
Since opening in April, entrepreneur Megan Leith has already brought bustling new business to her waterfront venue, Harbor House, formerly known as Michael's Landing, at 369 Sweeney St., North Tonawanda.
The indoor-outdoor venue accommodates up to 100 people and serves mainly as a space for private events, including weddings; showers; birthday, graduation and anniversary parties; corporate events; along with life’s many other occasions and milestones.
The venue features a bright event space inside, and a patio overlooking the Erie Canal.
“It's a beautiful venue on the water with an outstanding view – you can't beat it,” Leith said. “It’s very peaceful – you hear the birds, see the boats going by. It’s just very serene.”
Leith was looking to purchase an event venue when a mutual friend reached out to her and told her the space was available for purchase.
“It was already well-established and everyone knows it," Leith said. "I was left with this wonderful gem and I don’t take that for granted at all.”
Harbor House owner Megan Leith stands outside on the venue’s patio with the Erie Canal as her backdrop. (Photo by Sarah Bridgeman and Brandon McClinsey)
Leith is no stranger to doing business in the NT community, as one of her locations for another business she owns, Barretend – offering barre and yoga workout classes – is located at 15 Webster St., in the city. The other (and initial) Barretend location is at 503 Delaware Ave., in the City of Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Leith hosted yoga classes outdoors at Delaware Park, and she noticed many participants came from North Tonawanda – leading her to do business there.
Leith said she was drawn to purchase the North Tonawanda venue, in large part, due to her positive experience in the community.
“When I opened up Barretend, (I realized) there is something about the NT community, meaning if you’re (living) in NT, you often don’t leave NT – and you’re very loyal to NT. It seems everybody knows everybody. It’s a really great community and we felt so welcomed,” she said.
Vendors Come Together to Create Customizable Event Options
Leith described Harbor House as “the shell” for events: “People can come in and make it their own.”
While chairs and tables are provided, those who book an event at Harbor House can bring food, drink and decorations to make the space fit their taste and vision.
Many local vendors offer services for clients who choose to hold their special events at Harbor House.
Cute Charcuterie co-owners Leah Guagenti of Cheektowaga and Lisa Serion of Williamsville have already offered services at the venue since it opened.
Through their business, they offer custom charcuterie boards and graze tables for larger events, including at Harbor House.
“Harbor House is great because it is not only a beautiful space to rent, but all of the vendors are hand-picked by Megan (Leith) and ready to work with the client directly. It's a one-stop-shop and saves so much time party-planning,” Serio said.
Sara Spoth, owner of Beck & Forth Co., has also provided services at Harbor House. The business offers full-service floral and event design, and a curated rental collection where clients can find centerpiece and signage packages, large-scale backdrops, arbors and champagne walls.
“We absolutely love all of the natural light that Harbor House has,” Spoth said. “It’s bright and airy and the perfect setting for an intimate affair. We also love the outdoor space the venue has to offer its clients.”
Leith is also working closely with local business owners to provide them with opportunities to rent the venue to host their own events.
“There’s such a need for spaces for small business owners to do events and share their passion,” she explained. These events can include teaching classes or workshops.
“We are also looking into hosting a charcuterie class there this summer, since those are such a hit in WNY these days,” Guagenti said.
Owner’s Passion for Events Helped Inspire Harbor House
After Leith’s father passed away in 2017, she decided to convert his home into a business she called Hiraeth House, in April 2020. The word hiraeth means “a longing or grief for a house that is no longer a home,” Leith explained.
She began with her own studio space and eventually hired more women business owners to work out of the location, as well.
“I ended up with a wide variety of business owners doing all sorts of different things that you couldn't imagine if you tried,” Leith said.
She eventually partnered with the other entrepreneurs to host events, including birthday parties.
“I loved planning these events,” Leith said, which led her to look for an event space.
Thus, Harbor House was born.
Supporting Fellow Local Entrepreneurs
Leith’s support for other entrepreneurs expands beyond her businesses.
She also created a group titled the CEO Collective, which is made up of local entrepreneurs who conduct networking meetings monthly. They share stories, exchange advice and overall relate to one another.
“Connections are formed in these meetings,” Leith said. “It’s a great opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs, and it’s fun.”
She explained that, after becoming a business owner, she ”had no idea how lonely life is as an entrepreneur. Coming from a corporate background and experiencing the highs and lows on my own – (your business) is like your child. You're trying to grow it and make it the best it can possibly be.”
Leith added, “I slowly started bringing other women into my first business and saw how powerful multiple businesses can be when combining together.”
Now, she said, “I'm constantly with entrepreneurs all the time. I couldn't do all this if I didn't have all these entrepreneurs in my life. I’m very lucky.”
Shown is a floral centerpiece arrangement by Beck & Forth Co. at Harbor House. (Photo by Sarah Bridgeman and Brandon McClinsey)
Plans for the Future
Leith said she is looking forward to working through the season with plans to eventually develop event packages that include other local small businesses and their services. These packages can offer another convenient one-stop-shop option for brides, mothers-to-be or families and friends looking to host their next event – whether it be a wedding, shower or other celebration.
To learn more about Harbor House, follow harborhousent on Instagram or check out the business’s Facebook page, Harbor House NT.
Shown is a display by Cute Charcuterie and a floral arrangement by Beck & Forth Co. (Photo by Sarah Bridgeman and Brandon McClinsey)