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Meet Pauline Parry of Good Gracious! Events in mid wilshire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pauline Parry.

Pauline, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to live in America from England in 1982 with a husband and two children. My permit at the time did not allow me to work so I found myself doing quite a lot of entertaining with all the new friends we met through my husband’s work and our children. It was because of our guests at these dinner parties, soirees etc who would say to “Pauline you are so good at this you should start your own catering company”. Needless to say, I have never trained as a chef or owned my own company but I did have a hotel restaurant management background. So, you might say it was the American entrepreneurial spirit that encouraged me to even think about opening my own company… I suppose I was young and had a spirit, so with that I got my self a business card and called myself a “caterer”… now, what do I do!? LOL!

The name Good Gracious came about when I called my mother in England to let her know I was going to open a catering company and I said “hello Mum” and she responded “good gracious is that you Pauline?”. with that I immediately decided that would be the name of the company. Good Gracious is quite a typical expression used in England and hence I thought this would be quite fabulous to have a business name which encompassed my heritage roots.

I had no business plan and really started by word of mouth from my home. I was head room mother and I had to call parents to bring cookies/snacks for meetings and realized after the first meeting parents would not bring the product or ran to the market to get cookies so after that time I just made everything myself and took to meetings and the school had an annual tennis tournament and that year I secured the business for 300 guests preparing everything from the school kitchen. It all proved to be successful and my name was growing in that community and from that community someone had an attorney friend who they would recommend me to etc etc. It was one year before I got my commercial kitchen as I secured some business to do 2000 gift baskets for a staffing agency so with that business under our belt we were now truly in business with rent and I had two full-time employees.

From there the business grew… I actually did food for the Olympic 1984 headquarters in Century City… one of our first “major” corporate events. I then became a speaker for catering conferences which started giving me the reputation as an expert and innovator in the industry. I had a client that took us to Monte Carlo for three years in a row to do a three-day celebrity event on the harbor. We won numerous awards to include chef of the year, best caterer etc. etc. I am in the event industry Hall of Fame and the Wedding industry Hall of Fame. Our clients truly repeat clients. We have been in business for 34 years this September and just branded our selves as being 30 years “fresh”… meaning fresh in everything business, food, and presentation. Just because we have been around that long we work harder to keep ahead of the curve.

Our mission statement is to create fabulous events + delicious food for an exceptional experience.

The company began because of the American Entrepreneurial spirit. I arrive in Good Gracious! Events are 30 years “fresh” is all sense of the word!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As I said, we got our commercial kitchen as we awarded a great 2000 gift basket contract. These baskets were being transported throughout California. Unbeknown to be one of the trucks broke down and the baskets were left overnight in an “unfrigerated” truck and hence the apple cake went moldy. I ended up having to pay back one-third of the money back… lesson learned besides the embarrassment of letting my client down. I had to go to the bank to try and raise some money to keep me going. I asked for $15,000 I had NO security to give them but I got it. Sometimes, you need a little luck on your side.

I actually was picked up to be in an education show called “something ventured something gained”… unbeknown to where they took to start up businesses, followed them around for a couple of days, did interviews etc. then on this show when it was released unbeknown to me they brought in experts to say whether or not you would succeed. Apparently, I was one of those companies it was decided would NOT succeed.

I do have a strong team of employees who have been with me for years but I would say I have had my fair share of employees drama, the 2008 business downturn nearly “killed” me. And, I had burnout twice over the years which proved were the times when growth spurts needed to happen otherwise close down.

Please tell us about GOOD GRACIOUS! EVENTS.
GG!E is a full-service LIFESTYLE food and beverage event and wedding company. We are known as luxury and a company you can rely on to represent brands and culture through hospitality.

Professional event planners, private clients, and corporations – both nationally and internationally – seek us out for our innovative expertise and imaginative concepts in culinary and event design. GG! Events have a reputation for being a trendsetter in producing unique, quality and fabulous presentations in all aspects of culinary and design for weddings, social and corporate events.

I am proud of my team as you can not do it alone and that we are respected by our peers as being a leader in the industry. I am a founding member of WIPA (wedding international professional association) and 10 years later we have opened 15 chapters – this I am proud about as our industry is young and through working with associations we are bringing strength and value to what we do. I have been president of a lot of industry associations as I believe education brings strength to the business.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I am one of four children and each Wednesday my mum would gather us around and tell us stories from her childhood I could never get enough of her stories… my mum was one of 16 children so you can imagine her household was “crazy” but crazy good!

I too always remember Saturday would be bath night and day would go to the corner shop and get chocolate and sweets for us all to share and enjoy because we could stay up late and watch a western movie!

One of the other favorite things was we grew everything in the garden so we would have days when we would prep food for pickling, freezing and preserving for the winter months. Mum never went to the produce store except at Christmas when she would buy tangerines and some other items we did not grow in the garden.

Dad was Polish so every now and again he would get us all to make potato pancakes which we loved… we would shred the potatoes and he would cook the crispy pancakes for hours on end.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jasmine Star, Loreen Sarkis Studios, Claire Barrett Photography, Michael Segal, Yvette Roman, Marianne Lozano, Russell Harris Group

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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