Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Schaffer.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My husband Charlie and I moved to Los Angeles from NYC in 2005. I began working as a private chef and Charlie was an Executive chef with The Patina Group. I was catering elaborate parties for my employer at their estate for a few years and Charlie would help when he was available. The guests at these events would ask us to cater at their homes and businesses and our company was born. Although neither of us ever thought we would own and operate a catering business, it was a natural progression and we grew quickly. We wanted to change the paradigm of catering and produce restaurant-quality food and excellent service at events while reducing waste and our carbon footprint. We were committed to changing the way people thought of catering and to elevating the industry as a whole.
We rented a commercial kitchen in Venice for the first six years in business and quickly outgrew the space. We acquired a competitor’s facilities in mid-city, renovated and customized the building and moved in in 2016. We have been operating in Mid-City for the past three years and have enjoyed the centrality of our facilities and our capabilities have grown significantly. We caterer events across North America and we cater some of the most prestigious events in Los Angeles. We have won a sustainability award from the City of Santa Monica. We have been honored by The James Beard Foundation in NYC and recognized by the California State Assembly. In 2019 we won the Caterer of the year from the International Catering Association. We are very proud of our team and the great work they do as they set the bar for event hospitality.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As married business partners, it was imperative that we chose our segments of the business early on. We learned quickly that the key to a successful relationship professionally and personally is staying in your designated lane. It took a few arguments before we sought professional help and we were instructed to segment and compartmentalize our individual responsibilities and not second guess each other. We also learned that we are better together and we compliment each other when we play to our strengths. Charlie handles all of the Biz dev, finance, operations and HR teams and I manage our creative, marketing and culinary teams. We still confer with one another about large decisions and company-wide strategy, but we know not to step on each other’s toes.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are your event hospitality partners. We believe that excellent food beverage and service are paramount. We understand that the hospitality offered at an event is an extension of the brand or client hosting it. We listen to clients to uncover what their vision is for an event and guide them into the right format, menu and design that will make their vision come to life. We customize each event to suit the client’s needs and meet their budgets but we also have an endless spring of ideas that will leave their guests talking about the experience. We are known for our ability to create unique ahead-of-trend activation for brands as well as elegant beautifully prepared large-format galas and wedding receptions. We are most proud of creating a brand that our employees are proud to work for and be a part of. What sets us apart is our staff and their commitment to excellence. We are very proud of the work we do and the great team we have cultivated over the past ten years.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We may have sought some financial partners or investors initially. We built our business on a shoestring and every cent went back into our growth, which was difficult. We opened our company and had a baby at the same time and it was incredibly stressful not having a safety net. This was a blessing and a curse because it forced us to make good decisions financially and all decisions and mistakes were ours to make and we were not beholden to investors or partners.
On the other hand, had we had some partners or investors, we could have had some advice to possibly avoid some of the pitfalls we experienced. We had a few rookie mistakes related to real estate and operating procedures that may have been identified. We were learning as we went and there wasn’t any mentoring from a more seasoned entrepreneur that we could have benefited from. At the end of the day, we survived and thrived through trial and error and we are very proud of what we have achieved so far. We have provided a great place to work for many people and continue to strive to be better.
- Address: @Schaffer_LA
5269 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
- Website: schafferla.com
- Phone: 310 452-2255
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @Schaffer_LA
- Facebook: @Schaffer_LA
- Twitter: @Schaffer_LA
Steven Hansen Images, ACM images