gut-wrenching decisions.. new beginnings (all in the life of a caterer)

images3KUS0KTOA post on my favorite caterbuzz site prompted me to write what I am going to share here. A very talented chef .. after much soul searching.. has decided to close her restaurant and cut back on catering jobs.. to spend more time with her family.

Most won’t understand how hard a decision that was.. but I can guarantee you all of us fellow caterers know all to well how painful a decision that must have been. It is like giving up your baby!!! Something you spent all your time and energy on .. nurturing and helping it grow and discovering and exploring new and different ways to serve anything and everything.

Hours and hours and hours and then some more hours .. only to discover that .. wow.. you need to do this all over again tomorrow! You miss the school concert and the kids soccer games and all the family weddings (unless they booked you and even then you could not completely enjoy it).imagesU8Z95SQJ

We become so involved in at first growing this business.. then keeping it alive. It consumes every waking moment and it is hard to let your hair down or ‘rest’ because there is always something that needs your attention. With a real job you get week-ends off or a couple days off each week. With catering there are no days off and if there are we are regrouping or brainstorming on how to bring in business during these down times!

imagesG387IN54Oh and don’t forget the learning curve.. omg.. just keeping ahead of what’s happening or creating what’s happening is a full time job as well. We don’t even shop like regular people, everything we see we try to envision on a table or in a kitchen or what kind of food can we put in it or.. on top of it.. or even hang from it? Clothes shopping… what for… we never get to go out, and besides we need new aprons or uniforms! or maybe… just maybe.. we should start supplying shoes for the staff so they will quit coming to work in running shoes?

I already covered friends and family keeping their distance from us in another post. They know we are busy and we are not above putting them to work when they show up unexpectedly on a busy holiday. I mean it is a holiday for them.. but when was the last time you celebrated a imagesQ2CQZ0O8images (62)holiday?

We have a cabin at the lake and some years we never even got to put the boat in the water.. not enough time! Being successful only creates more jobs (for more people that you can’t find) and more time-consuming chores that only WE  CAN DO. There is no such thing as everything is done.. now we can rest uh uh..  NEVER.images (3)

SIGH… even reading and checking out the caterbuzz site sometimes used to stress me out.. how did they get in that magazine and how did they make those appetizers and how can everyone be so creative and I can’t even find time to read a freaking magazine.. much less be in one. I used to read books .. really !

But on the upside, that lobster I had to cook for 500 people was made possible by that same site because everyone chimed in on how it could be done. AND we did it.. and it was amazing and it made everything worthwhile…

imagesJBEXDIJLIt is in your blood and it is in your guts and it is hard work..  draining you emotionally and physically.. but only those that do it right really understand what I am saying. I am retired but I still have urges.. and it is still hard to shop without picturing food on it.. in it .. or how it will figure into my purchase.. ! Lord will I ever be normal again?

My ‘fix’ is wowing the potlucks I attend with some of my ‘recipes or carvings’. I have pangs of wanting to serve the whole potluck.. seventy people.. I can do that in my sleep.. by myself!! My kids served 11000 guests at various jobs last week . Waw… I need to feel imagesDNC4FVZOthat rush again!

The kids are now where I was.. and it is grueling and I am scared for them. Not for their success but for how they are living and their family time. My son booked off a week-end in each month this summer and almost a whole week…  August long week-end (this is the busy season for them). Closed down the whole kitchen! I hope I was somewhat instrumental in his making that decision.

We need to have balance in our lives and catering is not conducive to that .. having a restaurant as well can only mean double the work. My advice to you is this.. CHARGE MORE .. BOOK LESS !! Please make time for family and friends. It is more important to do imagesY1PSOD2Uimages (46)this than be busy all the time and have no life.

My fellow caterer that is shutting down her restaurant made a wise decision.. for someone so young yet. She has chosen to also cut back catering and be more exclusive (charging MORE). Mike Roman (catering guru) and looking down at us from wherever he is.. would be pleased with her decision.. he always tried to tell us to have balance and I understand that now.

I PERSONALLY THINK we all need to take stock of what we are doing BUT MORE  IMPORTANTLY … I think we really need to look  at WHAT  ARE WE MISSING……?????? untitled (40)

Ps.. anybody need help down south here.. can I come and serve your potluck (I will need to re-arrange your table lay out and décor though)… just sayin..





6 thoughts on “gut-wrenching decisions.. new beginnings (all in the life of a caterer)

  1. I agree, I think she made a good decision. Family is important and no one knows how long we have to spend time with them. As all self employed people know, if something is going to go wrong it will be when you are going somewhere, have people over or just need to take a break. Can’t imagine the stress of planning to feed 100’s of people and hoping you staff will show up to work. Enjoy your retirement and you can come cater for me at the lake this summer. Just saying……

    1. Yes I think so too. When one door closes another opens and I’m sure she will figure out another route. I think on our deathbed we wouldn’t wish we would have made more money but we surely would wish we spent more time with family. Yes I feel I need to feed people yet but it is a funny situation .. I DO NOT want to cook for myself! Thanks for the comment.

  2. I am right beside you, not a cater but we do have our own plumbing and heating company and are very proud of it’s success, problem it’s a 24 hour company with no exceptions including holidays … when someone has no heat on midnight Xmas eve, or you are heading to a family function you go… so I am glad your kids are learning from you that just book the time off an enjoy life before it passes you by… wish we could just say sorry but how can one just leave someone with out heat know matter the time or day ….

    1. Yes it would be hard to leave someone without heat especially if it was minus weather! See the thing is we may be the boss but something has to be said for being an employee .. although I never was a good employee , always trying to run things was my problem.. ah well. Thanks for reading and commenting I appreciate it.

  3. i had to do the same thing. My catering business was eating me alive. 20 years missing every holiday, school event and no vacations or days off. I still do some catering for a few clients, it’s a bitter sweet thing to do. On one hand I miss the creativity, the rush and the amazing results of putting together a great party. But if I still did that everyday, I wouldn’t have had a moment to read and respond to your post! In fact I was physically, emotionally exhausted and never did anything but work. Take care of yourself, you will learn to appreciate it!

    1. I appreciate you sharing that, we need more to share their experiences. It is a tough job and I try to…hmmm… how to express this .. ‘spread the word, somewhat’ . Yes it is rewarding and I still love it.. BUT .. we need to have balance in our lives and that seems to really apply to catering, where there is not enough of it. I worry all the time for my kids.. did I create a monster? But my son knows my feelings and he tries to balance it out.(just not enough to suit thanks again for sharing and good luck in your future endeavors!

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