Sandy Korem is the founder of The Festive Kitchen, a premiere catering company in Dallas, Texas, featuring recognizable gourmet food. Self-taught in the culinary arts, Sandy started the business in 1991 by providing handcrafted brownies to a local upscale casual restaurant. Within its first 10 years, The Festive Kitchen experienced annual double-digit growth in catering sales.In 2000, The Festive Kitchen began selling some of its most requested items from its production catering kitchen that had previously only been served for catered events. This concept proved to be explosive in the growth of the company and absolutely something that is recession-proof.
BusinessInterviews.com: At what point did you decide that catering was the industry you wanted to start a business in?
Sandy: I graduated from college with a degree in nursing. I practiced labor and delivery nursing for a few years and then was a stay-at-home mom. When my last child entered first grade I decided I wanted to use my cooking and hospitality skills to become a caterer. I had no catering experience, no financial backing and no business education – I just jumped off the cliff and became an entrepreneur. My first catering job was baking brownies for a hamburger joint.
BusinessInterviews.com: Tell me about The Festive Kitchen and what you offer.
Sandy: The Festive Kitchen is a full service, off-site catering company. Our food is described as “recognizable gourmet.” We provide catering for groups as small as 30 people to as large as hundreds or thousands. The sky’s the limit! Our largest single meal was served to 4,789 guests. The Festive Kitchen also operates two small take home food shops in Texas. Our catering customers were constantly asking for take-home options they could make in their own kitchens so we opened the food shops where we sell refrigerated entrees, dips, salads, hand-crafted hors d’oeuvres and 17 different flavors of hand-scooped cookie dough. These shops have been a very successful business endeavor and we plan to open several more locations in the next three years.
BusinessInterviews.com: You’re also the CEO of The Catering Coach, an elite coaching group exclusive to caterers and restaurateurs. Tell me more about this venture.
Sandy: Several years ago I saw the need for caterers to become more aware of their numbers. Many times caterers will take a job without really knowing if they are even making any money; they assume they are but haven’t really studied their business enough to know if the jobs are profitable. I remember sitting at a catering conference during the Great Recession and four prominent caterers were on stage in a panel discussion. Surprisingly none of them had studied their profit and loss statements in the past year to know where they stood. I knew right then that there was a definite need for caterer mentoring so I developed The Catering Coach. In my experience, independent restaurateurs have all the staff, menus and equipment needed to branch into a catering revenue stream, but they just don’t know how to get started, how to be efficient and most importantly how to be profitable. The Catering Coach offers these business owners systems for providing food at a location that is outside of their restaurant.
BusinessInterviews.com: How do you manage to find the time to run two successful businesses?
Sandy: Part of being a successful business owner is hiring the right people. It’s important to train your employees well, provide them with clear expectations and then let them run the business. If you can’t do this, you can’t grow your business. The Festive Kitchen has operated this way for years. I have a team of staff members that I trust to run the business to certain standards. This allows me the flexibility as an entrepreneur to focus on developing our organization and strategizing. The Catering Coach is a business that taps into my knowledge and experience; here I can share my expertise to save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am able to reflect on years of hands-on-experience about what has and has not worked for my catering company. I love mentoring others, so to me it’s really not work!
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice do you have for someone considering launching a catering business?
Sandy: Know your numbers from the beginning. What I mean by that is know exactly, to the penny, what your profit will be for a job before you commit to catering the event. You will be surprised to find out that what you think could be a profitable event, many times is not.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you offer up for someone looking to hire a caterer for an event?
Sandy: First make sure you always check references of past clients. Next, make sure the caterer has catered an event similar to yours in the past. Then, do not accept an ‘all-in-one’ price from a caterer without getting all the details and what is included in the price in writing. You need to know the following:
• When will the caterer and staff members arrive and leave?
• Is the staff from a staffing service or are they the caterer’s employees?
• What is the caterer providing aside from the food? Plates, utensils, tablecloths, napkins, ice, beverages, etc.
• What is expected of you as a client? Are you providing beverages, ice, nothing?
• Is there a gratuity or fee not included in the price that will be added later?
• What form of payment is expected and when?
And lastly, always sign a contract with the agreed upon menu and pricing for a catered event – no matter what the size and scope of the event.
Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!