Articulate January 2017

Redefining Catering

Written By: Paxton Sellers


A lot goes into planning an event. Verify all the nametags are correct for the client appreciation dinner, organize the decorations, print out the seating charts, decide on a decorative theme, remember to give the emcee the correct start time and select a caterer.

Or, you could save yourself a few steps and a lot of stress by selecting the correct caterer.

In their 20 years of business, Celebrations Catering has perfected the full package. Staffed with three full-time event planners, Celebrations handles the million tiny details that go into putting on every event, from a corporate brunch to an elaborate wedding.

“We clean up your house when we leave at night. If your dog gets out, we’ll go get him for you. If your pool needs cleaning, we’ll do it for you. Or change the baby, or whatever else needs to happen so that you’re not stressed out when the party starts,” explained Celebrations Catering Owner Leah Sherer.

More than simply catering, Celebrations provides an experience. Each event they design, they customize. By asking questions like ‘what are they wearing?’ or ‘will they be sitting or standing?’, Celebrations can design drink stations that encourage circulation at a networking event or a friendly buffet table for a retirement party. The flexibility of Celebrations’ customer-oriented event planning process means that the catering company can service events from elegant award ceremonies to small office lunches.

“I can rely on them. I don’t have to worry about anything going wrong, because they have someone there that is going to take care of anything. If any problems or issues come up, they’re able to handle it,” said Ashley Kolosky, the residency program coordinator at the University of Florida Department of Neurosurgery.

While Celebrations offers catering, linens, décor, tables and chairs, Sherer explained the company also acts as a middle man for their customers. By establishing themselves as the sole point of contact, Celebrations can manage the intricate details of the event planning and take that much more off their customer’s plate. If a DJ has to be hired or invitations printed, Celebrations will act as a point person with other vendors and even compile the cost, so the customer only has to pay one bill.

“It’s easier (for the client) when they come to us and let us do it all. Otherwise you start having miscommunications,” Sherer said.

In addition to catering the conference breakfasts and the annual company picnic, Celebrations serves the Department of Neurosurgery’s resident graduation every year.

“Decorating and décor isn’t my thing. But we walk into the conference room at Emerson Hall, where it’s all set up and it’s always perfect, always different,” said Kolosky.

To Sherer, the presentation is part of creating a memorable experience. A stack of plates artistically organized or an arrangement of flowers matched to the theme are only some of the little details that go into a production.

Once the event is done, Celebrations Catering won’t be. “We go in the fridge. We make room, and we pack up the leftovers for them,” Sherer explained.

In addition to doing the event planning and setup, Celebration does all the cleanup, allowing the customer to enjoy the event as a guest. They will wipe the tables, pack the leftovers, put the dishes in the dishwasher and take down the decorations. When they leave, the Celebrations staff will collect the trash and take it with them. At the end, the host can lean back and breathe a sigh of relief.

“It’s got to be about the people,” said Sherer.

PAXTON SELLERS is a recent college graduate and a Gainesville native. By day, she’s an aspiring journalist and editor. By night, she works on her Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification and perfecting her macaroon recipe.

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