Catering Is Ready to Serve

By Emily Treadway   Portraits by Ralph Yznaga

“March 2020 seems like a bad dream,” says Asia Gonczar, owner and executive chef of Apolonia Catering, referring to the worldwide shutdowns that began that month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food industries like Gonczar’s were hit particularly hard and, over a year later, many catering businesses and restaurants are still struggling. Some didn’t survive.  

Leslie Moore, owner of Word of Mouth catering and an Austin institution in his own right, has been a caterer in Austin for 30 years — hosting presidents, governors and celebrities. “COVID was a most unusual event that affected all caterers in different ways,” he says. “Uncertainty and fear of the unknown were our daily companions,” he adds, as companies wrestled with the decision to stay open or close up shop. 

Kristen Stacy, co-owner of Royal Fig Catering, agrees. “We couldn’t hold events until the beginning of June 2020 when we started to receive guidance on how to do so safely.” But by that time most people had already canceled or postponed their events.

Moore admits, “It’s pretty devastating when all of a sudden you’re told it’s not safe to do business.”

In an effort to keep their doors open, restaurants and catering companies everywhere scrambled to recreate or restructure their business models. But Kristin Stephens, director of Austin Catering, points out, “Caterers are known for thinking on their feet and for being creative, but 2020 challenged us to really think outside the box and find ways to keep moving forward.”

For many, this included selling takeout meals. Stephens says, “We used to believe food couldn’t be dropped off, but when that’s all you can do, you figure it out.”

Moore is confident that most of the catering companies will recover, though, and Stacy says, “Now that the world is opening up again, clients are wanting to reschedule their events. We’ve never been so booked!” 

There are still challenges that remain, however, and one of them is a lack of staffing. During the pandemic many companies had to let employees go, and even those who didn’t struggled to keep their staff because there were no events for them to make money from. “A lot of them decided that the industry is too vulnerable,” Moore explains, “and they’ve moved on or will move on to other careers.” 

Moore was one of the employers who was determined not to let any of his staff go, so he put them to work preparing takeout meals and his planning staff to work sorting out client contracts, finding new venue dates and arranging refunds. He and his team also established new company health and safety protocols.

While Word of Mouth was writing their own standards for health regulations and procedures, the rest of Austin’s catering companies were also adjusting their contracts to account for unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19. This, according to Stacy, speaks to the great relationship that Austin caterers have with one another and the open communication between them.

When Moore started Word of Mouth in 1987, there were only a handful of caterers in the Austin area. Today, there are many more catering companies, not to mention the restaurants that also cater. “Competition is a good thing in my eyes,” Moore says. “We learn from each other and there is so much more creativity. We have a much more vibrant food scene now.”

Moving forward, Stephens at Austin Catering says, “We’ve learned the value of meeting our client’s needs right where they are, whether it’s providing a roll of toilet paper with their meal delivery or executing a seated dinner for 300 from their backyard.” 

Gonczar believes this past year, while difficult, provided her with new business opportunities and growth, from expanding her menu to acquiring a new kitchen. It also made her more likely to take chances she may have been afraid to take before. 

The big takeaway, however, always remains the same. “As caterers, we’re participating in our client’s life moments. No matter how big or small, they all deserve the same level of attention,” says Stephens.

Austin’s caterers are open and ready to serve clients at their events, big or small.

Word of Mouth Catering
When Leslie Moore started Word of Mouth in 1987, there were only a handful of caterers in the Austin area. Today, there are many more catering companies, not to mention the restaurants that also cater. “Competition is a good thing in my eyes,” Moore says. “We learn from each other and there is so much more creativity. We have a much more vibrant food scene now.” 
For over 30 year, Word of Mouth catering has been bringing artistic flair and logistical expertise to their work, from sophisticated event design to creative culinary feats, stellar presentation and service. They are excited to start planning your next special occasion! wordofmouthcatering.com

Austin Catering

Kristin Stephens, director of Austin Catering, points out, “Caterers are known for thinking on their feet and for being creative, but 2020 challenged us to really think outside the box and find ways to keep moving forward. As caterers, we’re participating in our client’s life moments. No matter how big or small, they all deserve the same level of attention."Austin Catering is a full-service boutique catering company offering custom menu design and personalized event planning services. The breadth of experience and logistical savvy their catering team brings to the table will put you at ease knowing that your only concern will be what shoes to wear! austin-catering.com

Urban Cowboy Catering
Urban Cowboy is a full service catering service in Austin, Bastrop and Central Texas since 2012. They offer full service, as well as Delivery/Drop off & Food Truck Catering is also available. They specialize in but are not limited to Southern-inspired, fusion cuisine and provide assistance with rentals, bar, staffing, set up/clean up & more. They provide excellent customer service 
urbancowboycatering

2Dine4

Celebrations are enhanced when exceptional cuisine is presented with thoughtful service and every detail is considered. 2 Dine 4 Fine Catering offers the finest, bespoke cuisine and service throughout central Texas and beyond. More than that, they are in the happiness business. Their team makes your events, private parties and entertainment joyful and delightful. email Abby Ogan atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or give them a call at 512-467-6600. Whether you are fundraising, celebrating a milestone, or throwing a party for pure indulgence, they are experts on listening to your needs. 2dine4.com

Apolonia Catering
From their famous and amazingly delicious peirogis to a wide range of wonderful choices, they are ready to take care of your birthday parties, family gatherings, graduation parties, weddings and more. They are there for you! 
ApoloniaCatering.com