We are excited to share another vendor spotlight post with you! With the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 the past few months, weddings and events have been put on pause. We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you are in the process of planning a wedding or special event, we hope this blog will be insightful. You want everything for your special celebration to be flawless. A major factor in the success of your event is your catering choice. Whether your plans are for a sit-down dinner or a cocktail style reception, finding a qualified caterer is a big piece to the puzzle. You want your guests to enjoy themselves and remember the event fondly, so delicious food with beautiful presentation and top-notch service will achieve that goal.
Hiring a caterer can seem overwhelming, especially as you are determining budget, guest count, and menu. The good news is that hiring the right caterer will help make things easier and less stressful. Clear communication with your vendors plays a huge role in the ultimate vision and success of your event. Making sure your caterer is familiar with and has worked at your venue before is a detail that can make things go smoother. With the venue and catering playing such a main role in your event, it is a plus when they have a strong rapport with each other. We interviewed a few of our favorite Columbia caterers to get the scoop on what catering means to them and how they excel in their field.
First on the list, we spoke with Jesse Bullard, Vice President of Southern Way Catering. Founded in 1982 by Jimmy Stevenson in Columbia, Southern Way has been in business for 38 years. Jesse let us know that Southern Way's philosophy is to provide their clients with the most delectable food, attentive service, memorable presentations, and pleasurable event experience possible.
We asked Jesse about how COVID-19 has affected their business and ways they have moved forward despite these unprecedented times. Jesse shared, “The reality of this pandemic hit when our Spring calendar went from over 300 events to almost zero. Our team pivoted immediately and found creative ways to keep our business afloat. We have used our resources to serve the community and keep our employees working.” On top of offering to-go catering services, below are a few more projects that Southern Way has created to keep busy and involved with the community:
As we mentioned previously, when vendors know each other and have worked together before, it makes the planning process and event run more smoothly. In regards to working events at the Lace House, Jesse responded, “Our favorite part of the Lace House is their team, and the professionalism in which they run the venue business. Specifically, Karen's leadership that has elevated Lace House events in recent years. It is no question why couples choose to trust these special people with their special day.”
When it comes to food, the Southern Way chefs knows what they are doing. We asked Jesse what additional value he and his team offer to clients. He responded, “The greatest value that Southern Way provides to our couples' wedding experience is just that. The experience. Catering, by definition, is the job of making and serving food. However, we engage with our clients on a higher level to understand their overall wedding vision, and from there, create a customized reception to exceed their every expectation.” He finished by saying, “Relationships are the most important aspect of any business, and the value that the Lace House puts on that is very evident. It takes the perfect team to host the perfect event. The Lace House and Southern Way are always a great place to start.”
Next, we spoke with Corey Seawell, who helps run Seawell’s Catering. Seawell’s is a family owned and operated catering company. The founder, Carroll 0. Seawell Sr., was short on experience when he opened in 1946; however he had the vision to provide a quality product and the work ethic needed to build a business that has evolved through all of the changes in the food industry over the decades. Those same principles have guided second and third generation family members to continue 75 years later with the same values that has made them a successful business.
Corey shared that their business culture has always revolved around the word "ABILITY". Corey elaborated, “We feel like our services have the experience and capability to work with a client in planning the details of their event. We have the adaptability to assist in changes of plans that may occur. Most importantly, we have the responsibility to make sure our services, along with other vendors involved in the event, work together to make that event a success.”
When asked how COVID-19 has affected Seawell’s business and what their response has been, Corey responded, “This pandemic has been difficult for all in our profession. Our first response was to make sure that we followed all precautions to keep our family, staff and customers as safe as possible health wise. We offered a special Easter / Passover as well as a Mother’s Day family meal package that were both a success.” In addition to offering a takeout/curbside pick-up, Seawell’s has also been involved with feeding hospital workers, seniors and essential businesses who continue to operate.
Corey shared what they value when it comes to working with their clients. “Being a family owned and operated business, we value a close relationship with our couples during the process of planning their big day. If possible, we like to meet face to face, where we can get to know each other better and get a feel for exactly what they desire. We strive to be authentic, truthful, respectful, and good listeners to their wants and needs from the beginning stages of planning to the end of the reception. The hard work of the event is worth it, when you can share in the joy of the couple as they are officially announced and the happiness it brings to the family and guests.”
Seawell’s frequently caters events at Lace House and in closing Corey let us know that the Lace House is one of their favorite venues to work. “It provides a southern charm and a floor plan that is flexible and versatile. We have catered events/receptions in all areas of the house, including the outside patio, garden and mall.” Corey closed by saying “the variety of areas at The Lace House enables us to have options with our client and the Lace House staff to confer on the best plan for each event. The staff are always accommodating and easy to work with to make sure our events are a success!”
Continuing, we chatted with Patti Ginther, Sales Manager at Hudson’s Classic Catering. Robin Hudson began the business as a small road-side BBQ joint in 1995. Over the years, Hudson’s has grown from backyard BBQs to having two locations and being able to handle a full spectrum of events. Since Robin Hudson’s passing, the business is run by his two sons, Clint and Clay. In reference to Hudson’s company motto, Patti responded, “We are a big, slightly dysfunctional family and we have a few mottos, depending on who you ask. “Taste the South in your mouth” is definitely Clay’s favorite, while I prefer “more than BBQ”.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding our community and COVID-19 lately, Patti shared that Hudson’s is currently operating as one company out of their restaurant and has been able to offer discounted and donated meals to a few area hospitals. She let us know that their team members are like family and are always a priority. “One of our primary concerns has been making sure our employees have everything they need such as food/toilet paper, help with unemployment issues, etc.” said Patti.
When it comes to catering weddings, Patti shared that the Hudson’s Classic Catering expectation is “to do whatever it takes to make the day as flawless as possible, even if it means changing an entire layout at the last minute because it started raining.” She encourages her team “to be flexible and self-reliant, I always want to make sure they are prepared for just about anything. We do our best to make the food displays blend with the overall décor to keep everything cohesive.”
In closing, Patti shared when it comes to catering events specifically at the Lace House, “We always love working at your venue because we know there is already a plan in place for every detail. We also sincerely appreciate that the kitchens are kept clean and empty. A functional sink and space to work out of make all the difference. The staff is always so courteous and helpful!”
Next, we spoke with Crawford Pressley, owner of Loosh Culinaire Fine Catering. Since its founding in 2003, Loosh has made a name for their expertise in continental, American and regional cuisine. With a motto of “Catering for lovers of food”, the company embraces the philosophy that the best cuisine begins with the finest ingredients and everything that Loosh serves is created in-house with the freshest ingredients. Along with imaginative and superb cuisine, Crawford also draws from his vast knowledge of wines from around the world to create harmony through proper pairings. “We are a work family who each bring a component of expertise to the table. We love food, wine, and happy guests!” said Crawford.
The current COVID-19 circumstances dramatically affected everyone in the event industry. With the clouds starting to pass, events will slowly begin again. Crawford announced that in the next week or so, Loosh will begin offering in-home, social-distancing dinner party options for all levels of formality and cost. In addition, the company will also be providing pickup/delivery meals options.
Regarding what value Loosh offers their clients as well as what they value in their own company, Crawford responded, “we are in this business because we enjoy making people happy. Our attention to detail and never-compromise attitude make our product and service second to none.” Because he believes every event should be unique and professional, attentive service are key to a successful event, Crawford carefully considers all aspects to create the best experience and memories possible for his clients.
Being a frequent Lace House caterer, Crawford shared how he and the Loosh team feel about catering events at our venue. “Of course, the beautiful historic home and stunning gardens always make for an elegant and pleasant setting. The indoor/outdoor component and elegant, warm charm of the Lace House make for a palette where most any vision can be brought to life,” he said. “From a production standpoint, the on-site commercial kitchen and staging area are a big bonus for high-quality menu execution.” He concluded in saying, “We enjoy being a part of the unique events we get to cater there—every day at the Lace House is a different day.”
In addition, we chatted with John Chiles, partner and Executive Chef with Blue Marlin Signature Catering. Signature Catering was founded in 2009 after moving to a separate facility from the Blue Marlin in the Vista. Due to catering growth, a new division was created with its own dedicated employees. John feels the close family culture is what separates Blue Marlin Signature Catering from everyone else. John explained, “Each employee/partner has a role to play and all of them work to give the guest services far beyond their expectations. We all love to serve and provide instant gratification, thus giving our clients that ‘Magic Moment’ which is what drives us each and every day.”
Due to the pandemic, Signature Catering has adjusted their operations like everyone in our industry. When asked about the adjustments, “We have partnered with Lower Savannah Council of Governments to provide meals to seniors in five counties throughout South Carolina. To date we have prepared almost 19,000 meals and are looking forward to helping more of our seniors as we work through this difficult time.”, replied John.
When discussing what differentiates Blue Marlin Signature Catering stand out, John responded, “Signature Catering treats each wedding reception as if it were for our own family event.” There are no limitations to any food and beverage requests with their printed menus serving as a starting point, all of their menu offerings are custom made to each client’s taste. John further stated, “Food is only as good as its presentation and then that is only as good as the service. The presentations, action stations and creativity are customized to each event. No two are the same as no two brides are the same. Exceeding the customers’ expectations is our ultimate goal!”
In regards to working at our venue specifically, John said, “We have catered all over the southeast and the Lace House is one of our favorite venues. The staff that are there are always attentive and work very well with our team.” John and his team appreciate the full working kitchen on the main floor and the satellite kitchen on the lower floor. He described the Lace House is one of the most versatile venues offering a large dining space down stairs, smaller break out rooms upstairs, outside patios as well as the mall by the Governor’s Mansion. He stated, “The Lace House is a true ‘Southern Charm’ at its best!”
In closing, he shared, “Both the Lace House and Signature Catering strive for the same goals ‘Warm Welcomes’ … ‘Magic Moments’ … and ‘Fond Farewells’. You can’t do that without a great team & partners and the Lace House provides both a great facility and great employee partners for us to work with. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to work alongside them.”
Hopefully this has provided some insight into a few of the many great catering companies in Columbia that we have the honor of calling industry partners. We are looking forward to celebrating the many special milestones in our client’s lives. If you are reading this and in the beginning stages of event planning, please reach out to us or any of the great companies referenced above to chat about your vision!
For more information regarding the Lace House, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 803-737-2235. We look forward to hearing from you!
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