San Diego Business Journal

It’s Party Time Again For Local Caterers

HOSPITALITY: Top-Ranked Firms on List See Business Rise By Stephanie Glidden Monday, March 12, 2012

BTS has moved into new offices in Sorrento Mesa that include a 3,000-square-foot demo kitchen. The chef holds cooking classes for adults and children, and clients can rent it for competitive events and parties.

A Full Plate

Picnic People/Festivities Catering & Special Events, No. 2 on the list with $4.4 million in gross catering sales for 2010, has a lot on its plate, with three additional brands and a hotel concession. The companies are owned by founder and CEO Lisa Richards.

Picnic People is a picnic planner and caterer in addition to providing games and activities for the picnic attendees, Richards said.

“Festivities is a full-service catering and special events company providing a range of services from private parties to complicated affairs on the USS Midway,” Richards said. “We also own The Village Grille in Balboa Park, a self-serve caterer Be Delish Express! and TK&A Custom Catering (No. 12 on the list).”

If that isn’t enough to keep the company busy, Richards said that in 2011, The Bristol Hotel in San Diego contracted with Festivities to provide all of the food services, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, room service, bar and catering, to its guests. All of the food services staff is employed by Festivities.

“This is a different business model from most hotels,” Richards said. “It’s not typical for a hotel to sublease food services.”

In 2003, Richards and Frank Christian, president, formed another company, Picnic People Services Inc., to sell franchises of the picnic event concept.

“We have seven locations,” Christian said. “Right now most of the franchisees are doing well, in spite of an ongoing conservatism to invest and grow the business.”

Christian added that the local catering and picnic business is trending up. While not quite at pre-recession levels, it has improved.

“There are more parties and a lot more events, just less money to spend,” Christian said.

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