Belvedere Inn Deputy General Manager Shines On Stage And In The Restaurant Industry [photos, video] | Local News

Soft jazz music played as conversation and laughter rose and fell in the dimly lit dining room filled with aromas of warm bread and cabernet sauvignon.

It seemed like nothing more than another busy Monday night at one of Lancaster’s fine dining restaurants, the Belvedere Inn, housed in an 1869 Italian-style Victorian mansion at 402 N. Queen St.

But that was about to change.

Dressed in black, Lindsay Bretz-Morgan, deputy general manager of Belvedere, 38, entered the dining room with a creme brulee lit by candle. She placed it at an eight-person table in front of Stephen Fisher, 90, who was celebrating his birthday and the publication of his new book, “Driven,” and she started singing “Happy Birthday” with Fisher’s family.

The chorus of voices wandered through the lyrics, as happens daily in restaurants around the world. But during the last line of the song, Bretz-Morgan’s voice crescendoed in a massive opera sound wall that filled the high ceilings of the restaurant. The entire dining room fell into stunned silence, and an instant after the song ended, the room erupted into cheers.

“Her voice is magical,” Belvedere CEO John Costanzo said, noting that now that the word is out, diners are asking for her as part of their reservations. “She’s on a whole new level. It’s like a Broadway star is singing “Happy Birthday” to you.

The woman behind the voice is on a whole new level as well. With her beloved restaurants and shows coming back to life after a pandemic break, Bretz-Morgan balances two management jobs, two shows, teaches voice lessons, and learns all she can to achieve her goal at long term – start your own restaurant, which, of course, will focus on music.

An unlikely start

Bretz-Morgan was born in Middletown, the second child of Linda and Michael Bretz.

At age 8, Bretz-Morgan got her first solo at Wesley United Methodist Church in Middletown, which she says started her love of singing.

“My parents have been very supportive of me, but they can’t sing,” she said. “They always tell people, ‘We don’t know where she got this from.'”

After singing her first solo, she began singing lessons, dancing lessons, and performed in college and high school shows, while balancing waitress jobs starting at age 16.

In 2001, Bretz-Morgan attended Point Park University for musical theater and worked in the university’s performing arts office to earn money on the scholarship.

“When I auditioned for Point Park, I was accepted just for my voice. They were like, ‘Oh, she has a pretty voice; we can work on other things.

The “other stuff” was musical theater, a learning challenge that she enthusiastically accepted.

After graduating, she eventually landed at Elizabethtown’s Black Gryphon, which she helped run for seven years. It is known for its dining theater performances, musicals, and music critics and Bretz-Morgan was a regular attendee. She was also a voice teacher at Lebanon Valley College for eight years, preparing high school students to audition for college.

After her divorce in 2014, Bretz-Morgan moved to downtown Lancaster, one block from the Belvedere Inn, and left Lebanon to give singing lessons at home.

She also landed a managerial position at Lancaster County Coffee Roasters, but had a strong desire to secure a restaurant job to keep in touch with her love for restaurant work.

During a walk, Bretz-Morgan was drawn to the Belvedere by its beauty.

“I thought it was gorgeous,” Bretz-Morgan said. “I sat down and had a drink and fell in love with the bartender, who had been there since they opened. I was like, it means something if the employees stay that long. It must be a great place to work. And of course, they weren’t hiring.

The Belvedere has become Bretz-Morgan’s new haunt. She shared her restaurant management experience with Costanzo. Two years later, he contacted her with an opening.

Bretz-Morgan started out as a lunch waiter / bartender at Le Belvédère and was quickly recognized there for her singing talent when she did “Happy Birthday” for a guest.

Bretz-Morgan started singing for the CEO’s tables and eventually sang for his colleagues and guests. When these opportunities arise, almost daily, Bretz-Morgan said she sang in a lyrical manner to add a special touch.

As requests for songs increased, Bretz-Morgan launched a monthly Showtune Sundays at Belvedere, where guests and performers from local theaters like the Fulton and the American Music Theater come to sing.

COVID-19 stop

Bretz-Morgan’s love for singing and restaurant work combined well until COVID-19 hit.

Thousands of Lancaster County restaurant and entertainment workers like Bretz-Morgan lost their jobs – permanently or temporarily – when the pandemic hit, and those employment sectors have yet to fully rebound to levels before the pandemic.

Employment in recreation and hospitality, which includes hotels, restaurants, bars, catering, dinner shows, museums, amusement parks, performing arts companies and writers, freelance performers and performers down 4,000 jobs from pre-pandemic levels, LNP | LancasterOnline reported in September.

Within the leisure and hospitality sector, the food services and drinking places sub-sector, which includes bars, restaurants, caterers, mess rooms, school and work cafeterias, remained down by 2,900.

Due to state restrictions, her lead role in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Playhouse at Allenberry in Boiling Springs has been postponed and the Belvedere temporarily closed in March 2020.

“I was a bartender the last day we were open,” Bretz-Morgan said of the Belvedere. “I remember the general manager saying, ‘Go home. We seem to be out of work for a while. I was everywhere and I was scared.

Bretz-Morgan also stopped teaching voice lessons during COVID-19, which left her with no income for months. She said her savings got her through this.

There was still an advantage. “Looking at the positives of this situation, I was forced to take a break and not be a fool working 16 hours a day,” she said.

Sharing its light

In May 2020, Lancaster County roasters and the Belvedere reopened and Bretz-Morgan was one of the first employees to return to work.

Although the Belvedere was open for a time only for pickup, Bretz-Morgan found a way to share a special moment with Belvedere regulars Patti and Mark Maurer, who have dined there twice a month for the past 15 years.

When the couple came to collect their food, accompanied by a bottle of champagne from the staff to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, Bretz-Morgan sang their favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

“She has the voice of an angel. Her voice is rich and moving, ”said Patti Maurer. “When she sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ I had tears in my eyes.”

When the theaters reopened, Bretz-Morgan booked two shows, while juggling two executive positions, the monthly Showtune Sundays at the Belvédère, a voice teacher position and a music reservation position at the Belvédère.

Bretz-Morgan said juggling these jobs isn’t easy, but it’s necessary because they give her the connections she needs to thrive.

While things have been busy for Bretz-Morgan since the city reopened, she said, she is grateful and hopes to someday own her own restaurant that incorporates music.

But for now, she is focused on sharing her talent, to the delight of her fans.

“It’s not very often that you develop a relationship with your server to the point that you invite them to sit with you at your table,” said Patti Maurer. “She’s exactly the kind of person Lindsay is. She is one of those people who like to share her light through music. She has a light in her when she sings.

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About Angelita A. Blanchard

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