Elvira Grau is no stranger to struggle, perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Growing up in the city of Lviv in Ukraine, Grau and her family immigrated to America in the 1970s and lived in a public housing complex in Brooklyn. Her parents were both highly educated (her father was an architect and her mom handled operations for a liquor company) and they would end up rejecting public assistance after only a few months to make it on their own. “I saw my parents work so hard to not depend on any of the social services provided and stand on their own two feet,” Grau says. “Growing up in that type of environment kind of made me who I am today.”
Aside from her family’s struggles, Grau has had struggles of her own. English isn’t Grau’s primary language and she also has dyslexia. Despite these obstacles, Grau knew how to play to her strengths. “When I was young, no one really helped me with my disabilities, but I was super creative and had this wild imagination.” She goes on to say, “It took me a really long time to own who I am, especially when you’re not aware of your superpower— it takes time. It took me a long time to accept that I am an artist, visionary and able to see things that people with Master’s Degrees don’t see.”
From Empty Space to Space Events
Grau took her superpower and created Space Events, an all-inclusive event venue in Englewood, New Jersey, tailored to host an array of large-scale events. Working alongside her husband and business partner James, the duo has made Space Events the premier event venue in Bergen County, hosting parties for celebrities like Alicia Keys, DJ Envy, Fat Joe, CC Sabathia and Cardi B. As a mother, Grau wanted to fill the need for top-of-the-line happenings in a climate-controlled environment. In their journey to achieve this goal, Space Events has provided clients with an assortment of all-inclusive party experiences, including Sweet 16s, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, birthday and holiday parties, as well as corporate team-building events, charity events, school fundraisers, proms, formals, camp reunions and more.
While she has a background in advertising marketing and sales, Grau has always enjoyed creating tablescapes and centerpieces as a hobby. This faith in herself led to her pitching the idea of opening a private, high-end family entertainment center for children to rival the likes of Chuck E. Cheese, Discovery Zone and other entertainment facilities of the time. Originally starting out hosting only children’s parties, Space Events were so beautiful and high-end, adults wanted access to the services as well. “We have been creating memories for almost 20 years and had to pivot our business plan many times.” Grau says, “I think it’s vital to stay flexible and on-trend. You have to always stay on the cutting edge, in order to succeed.” Space Events was such a success that their five private party rooms were constantly booked and they were doing about five parties simultaneously every two hours, with 15-20 parties a day with six exclusive events each and every weekend. “It’s a merit and we feel blessed to do what we do,” Grau states.
In September 2019, Grau opened Space 54 on 54th Street in New York City. The space proved to be extremely successful from its inception, hosting corporate events as well as parties for some of the Real Housewives of New York. Unfortunately, operations at Space 54 had to stop after only six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, both Space Events and Space 54 were able to weather the storm that hit the hospitality industry, and business is back to the closest it’s been to normal in a long time, with plenty of events and parties lined up for the holiday season.
When speaking on the secrets to her company’s success, Grau says, “I think this industry needed a woman’s touch. I never got into this business to make money. I never really think about the money—for me, it was about what I could do to make the industry better and there aren’t that many women in this space.”
Most importantly, throughout all the success, Grau makes it a point to remain humble. “The more gratitude and appreciation you show, the more blessings and miracles you will see in your life. The more successful you get, the more humble you need to be.” She concludes by saying, “It’s all about sharing. If God gives you a gift, you have to share it. My gift is to bring beauty into the world and that’s how I look at my life and how I want others to view my work.” spacenj.com space54nyc.com