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2012 Best Catering Service: Park Avenue Catering

Author: Katharine Alvarez
May, 2012 Issue

Park Avenue Catering retains its crown as Best Catering Service, winning the Readers Poll award for the third consecutive year. Former restaurateur Bruce Riezenman leads the 23-year-old business and attributes the company’s success to attitude, personality and quality staff. Park Avenue Catering is available for all types of events within about a 75-mile radius of Santa Rosa. It was the first green certified caterer in Napa and Sonoma counties and uses locally sourced ingredients. Personal service and attention to detail are paramount at the company.

“What makes us stand out is our level of organization and detail,” says Riezenman, executive chef and owner. “From a logistical standpoint, we really focus on our ability to consistently put out a great product. And it’s more than just food and service: It's organization. I think what we’ve done very successfully is, we’ve built a team where each person specializes in overseeing or planning a different part of the final product.”

Allowing each staff member to specialize in a particular aspect of the business ensures events go forward without a hitch and details are never overlooked. “Everybody has a place,” says Riezenman. “Because of that, we make sure every team member is a true expert in his or her part of the operation and isn’t overwhelmed by the scope of responsibilities.”

Park Avenue Catering also succeeds by investing in good equipment and new ideas. The staff is innovative and contemporary in the food it delivers, says Riezenman.

“We’re constantly tweaking and improving on what we do,” he says.

The company weathered the economic slump much better than many other caterers, seeing an 8 percent decline at the height of the downturn, compared to the 20 to 30 percent drop experienced by some other catering companies. This past year was the best in the company’s history. “It’s pretty remarkable. We had more than 20 percent growth last year,” says Riezenman.

Wine and food pairings aided that growth and play an increasingly important role in the business. Riezenman recently developed the smartphone application PairIt!, and it’s brought the company recognition as a leader in food and wine pairing.

“With all of the focus on food and wine in our Napa/Sonoma/Marin area, I think that’s helped us a lot,” says Riezenman.

Riezenman also uses his past experience as a restaurant owner and chef—Santa Rosa’s Prospect Park Restaurant and Buona Sera in Petaluma —to keep the level of quality and service at Park Avenue high.

“I approach catered events the same way I used to approach my restaurants,” he says. “We look at the experience in a way that’s a little different, a little more personal—like a restaurant. I think that makes a big difference.”

 

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