Barcelona Restaurant opened in Columbus’s German Village in 1996. More than a dozen years later, it continues to serve flavorful Mediterranean-inspired dishes at 263 E. Whittier St. and its owner, Scott Heimlich, launched a spin-off catering business a year ago this summer.
Created to meet guests’ requests for off-site catering, Sidecar Global Catering does corporate lunches, in-home gatherings, large events, and holiday parties. Paul Yow, executive chef at Barcelona and Sidecar, created the entire menu for the latter.
“The combined knowledge and skill of both the food preparation and service staffs made our first year of events run smoothly,” says Caitlin Flory, catering director at Sidecar.
To learn more about what it took to get Sidecar off the ground, read our interview with Flory.
The Metropreneur: How was Sidecar’s launch financed?
Caitlin Flory: Sidecar was started with a small business loan from the Economic and Community Development Institute. ECDI is about investing in small businesses that help to provide economic stability in the Columbus community. We went this route because of the quick turnaround from ECDI and because the loan amount was too small to approach a bank. ECDI also promotes the small businesses they work with, so it is a win-win situation.
[M]: What are the key differences between operating a restaurant and operating a catering business?
CF: Operating a catering company is a very different beast than operating a restaurant. The biggest difference is that in a restaurant customers are coming to you and for the catering we have to go and seek out the customer. There are also a lot of details that go into taking food off site. You must bring all of the equipment and serviceware, in addition to the food, to the venue and be prepared for unexpected situations. We check and double check ourselves before leaving our catering kitchen to ensure that we have all the necessary items to make the event a success.
[M]: How did you get the word out about Sidecar?
CF: We have utilized social media, cross marketing with Barcelona, networking and cold calls, along with participating in events like Taste of the Future, Columbus Food & Wine Affair and various bridal shows. We also participated this season at Pearl Alley Market, selling sandwiches off our lunch menu.
[M]: Restaurants have a notoriously high failure rates. Barcelona is celebrating its 15th anniversary this month and Sidecar celebrated its first anniversary in August. What do you think has been critical to your success?
CF: Creating delicious food and providing high quality service are key to any food business success. In addition, having a dedicated staff that believe in the mission of the business and who are willing to work hard to produce a quality product are imperative.
[M]: Are there any lessons you’ve learned about the catering business during this first year?
CF: We have learned a great deal in this first year. Be prepared! That is one of the most important rules next to having great food. We always have backup serving utensils, platters, sternos, etc. No matter how much time you have spent planning out the event, once you arrive onsite something is going to change. We have also learned how to pack a lot of stuff into a little space!
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
CF: This first year has been an adventure. What we are most proud of is that, to date, all of our events have been a success and the customer has been happy. It is our goal to continue to bring exceptional food and service to each and every event that we cater.
To learn more about Sidecar Global Catering, visit BarcelonaColumbus.com/Sidecar.