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Meet Alex Lorton and Zach Yungst of Cater2.me

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Lorton, Zach Yungst.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alex, Zach. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Our interest in the growing San Francisco food scene — combined with our own slightly quirky food preferences — sparked the idea that ultimately became Cater2.me. Coming out of college, we started finance and consulting jobs where free catered lunch was a regular, albeit unexciting perk. Just steps outside our offices were thriving food scenes — local restaurants, food trucks, and chefs were sprouting up in farmers markets, on street corners, and in undiscovered neighborhoods around the city — and meanwhile, we found ourselves eating the same chopped salads and sandwiches every day. If our companies were already ordering regular meals for the office, why not mix-it-up, support these local vendors, and provide some variety for employees?

This dream of creating a community around local food in the workplace became a reality when we took a risk and left our steady jobs (Alex moved across the country to California!). In the fall of 2010, we started up operations with one client, working out of our apartment.

Back then, it was just the two of us, so we did everything. We quickly onboarded a group of 20 hand-picked restaurant partners and found hungry offices that understood and appreciated our vision and service. Seven years and eleven markets later, Cater2.me is a respected leader in the catering services industry, working with hundreds of vendors in each of our markets and serving thousands of clients, from finance and tech to advertising and education.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Any given day can have its bumps (or sharp curves) in the road, but looking back over time, our experience building Cater2.me has been relatively smooth. Much of this has been due to our ability to stay true to our initial idea and to build a demand for the services we provide. We’ve clearly proven there’s value in our model — both for our clients and for the food service partners with whom we work.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some larger challenges to overcome along the way. We came into this business with limited industry knowledge and experience and have had to learn and adapt as we’ve grown — something made even more challenging by our decision not to seek outside funding. The service industry isn’t easy, and we’ve had to be agile and responsive to stay on top.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Cater2.me story. Tell us more about the business.
Cater2.me connects companies and organizations with local food vendors in 11 cities across the country. Our clients rely on us for all types of needs: daily team meals, happy hours, meetings, and events (we’ve even worked on weddings and conferences). The process is simple — our clients tell us about their cuisine preferences, how many people they need to feed, and any dietary restrictions they have, and we craft custom menus and deliver delicious local meals to their tables.

We do this by partnering with a curated set of food vendors in each of our markets — and they are amazing, regularly adding new concepts and customizing menus for our clients! We help them get their innovative and delicious dishes in front of startups, corporations, and co-working spaces. And thanks to these relationships, our clients get the best local food for their teams, allowing them to build community and foster positive office culture — inspiring meaningful connections, inside and outside of the office, with every shared meal.

We are grateful that since 2010, Cater2.me has become a leader in the corporate catering services industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to connect personally with all of our clients, who look forward to having the best quality food delivered directly to their offices. As we continue to grow, we understand the impact we’ve made on other startups and companies alike: transforming the way offices eat.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help?
Ultimately, more than anything else, our success is owed to our clients, vendors, and team. Our early clients worked with us and showed patience as we developed and improved our service. We’ve made listening to and learning from our clients a key part of our daily business to this day.

Vendors are the lifeblood of our service and the key to the distinct, local flavors we bring to each of our markets. From our early San Francisco partners like Joseph Ahearne with El Porteno to the small business owners that helped us get off the ground in Los Angeles, like Peter Tulaney of WeHo Sausage and Catering Co. and Wes Stone of TrukQuito, we have worked closely with amazing vendor partners to define excellence in food quality and service that has continued throughout the years.

Of course, nothing would be possible without our amazing and hardworking team. We’ve grown to more than one hundred full-time, food-obsessed employees and a part-time staff of 70 coordinators who hustle every day at our clients’ sites to enhance their meal experiences.

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