By Dave Ficere
“Never trust a skinny cook.” That’s the philosophy of Fred Renstrom, a long-time Valley resident and owner of Fat Freddy’s Catering Service. The former owner of Italian and Caribbean cuisine restaurants in the mid-1990s, Freddy tired of the restaurant business and wanted to retire and play golf .
But just as the best-laid plans sometimes go astray, Freddy’s son Eric – who had graduated from college with a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree and worked as a banquet manager and a catering manager – convinced his dad to join forces and start their own catering company. And just like that, they took their love of food and party planning and started their own catering company. Although most of their clients are in the Valley, they have done events in both Flagstaff and Sedona, as well.
“The Restaurant business is very demanding,” Freddy says, “while a caterer has more control over their own schedule. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its own demands, because it does,” he adds.
“We started out as corporate caterers and later moved into wedding events,” Freddy says, “but 80 percent of our business is still corporate events.”
As with many types of businesses, Fat Freddy’s is highly seasonal with their busiest time of year beginning in September and running through the holidays. Following a lull in January, they ramp up again during the height of the winter visitor season and Spring Training in February and March. “We have 15 fulltime employees and another 20 part-timers to help us with seasonal events and during those especially busy times of year,” Freddy says.
So why should people choose Fat Freddy’s over their favorite restaurant that also offers catering services? “For many restaurants,” Freddy says, “catering is just another revenue stream and not their primary thing. We really know what we’re doing, because this is all we do.” With Fat Freddy’s extensive menu, they can – and do – customize menus for their clients and go the extra mile to make the event a success.
“Hiring a caterer is like buying a car,” Freddy muses. “You have to decide if you want a Mercedes or Volkswagen. There’s nothing we can’t add on to customize the event because everything we do is priced per person.”
In addition to food, the Fat Freddy’s staff can handle all the other extras such as tables, chairs and even flowers. Clients appreciate the above and beyond service the staff provides and Freddy says it’s important because they rely upon repeat business and doing a great job for clients.
“There are a lot of venues that don’t allow certain caterers because those caterers leave the place trashed, but we tell our people to leave the place better than you found it. Dump the trash and leave the place clean.”
“In our business,” Freddy adds “it’s all about service.” That service accounts for the large number of corporate events and weddings they do, the vast majority of it buffet-style catering. And they also go the extra mile for gluten-free and vegetarian eating, when requested.
With the holidays coming up, now’s the time to contact Fat Freddy’s for your special event. “We start telling people about the holidays in July and encourage them to book as early as they can,” Freddy says, “especially if you want a certain date. We need to hear from you this month (November) for sure if you want us to do a holiday event.”
To find out more about Fat Freddy’s or book them for your holiday event, visit their website at fatfreddyscatering.com or call them at (623) 580-4653.