“Crazy doesn’t even begin to explain it.” That’s how Ben Arnold, owner of Corporate Caterers, describes the pace of the catering business during the month of December. Or more precisely, the period between the first Friday in December and the last Saturday before Christmas. “We will do the equivalent of 60 days of sales,” Arnold said.
Interestingly, New Years Eve is not big for caterers. Most people celebrating it go out to eat, Arnold said, and the months of January and February are his slowest of the year.
But in December, it’s on and in a big way. Last year he averaged 23 events a day, with the single busiest day bringing 37 of them. He doubles the size of his kitchen staff and adds more servers and delivery drivers as well (along with rental trucks to supplement his own fleet of nine trucks).
One significant change has been a drop in the number of large corporate events — offset, however, by an increase in smaller private parties.
As for what people want, Arnold said, “It’s all over the board, from hors d’oeuvres to full dinners. I have 280 items on the menu and I bet 210 will be ordered during those weeks.” Arnold has been in the catering business 13 years. Corporate Caterers ranks as the city’s largest operation of its type.
Not surprisingly, there have been a few close calls over the years. Two years ago, for instance, a woman hired Corporate Caterers to supply the food for a big Saturday night party. The only problem was, the party actually turned out to be on Friday. “They called us about two hours before (the party),” Arnold said. “I literally had two hours to get the food there and the only people who knew about it was the (client) and my staff.”
Arnold expects to put in a string of 18-hour days. “It’s harvest time,” he said. “You gotta do it. Come January, February and March there’s plenty of time to sleep.”