0 comments on “Your Holiday Party Planning Survival Guide”

Your Holiday Party Planning Survival Guide

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about your office holiday party. We know that it isn’t even Halloween yet, but once you brush away those cobwebs on November 1st, holiday season will officially be upon us and it’s important to get the ball rolling before schedules start booking up (both yours and the vendor’s)! And because we also know that coordinating an office full of people is a nightmare, we’re breaking down all the tricks of our trade to help you survive holiday party planning. You ready? Let’s get to work!

  • The Event: First thing’s first when you’re party planning- you need to figure out what you’re looking for. Will the event be drinks and small bites? Buffet style and soft drinks? A sit down meal? Is the party going to be at your office or are you going to rent out a space? Should there be food at all? There are a lot of factors to consider and it’s important to determine what you have in mind for the party and then confirm with your boss or your coworkers that you’re all on the same page. For most holiday events, people expect appetizers and drinks but it varies company to company on how light or heavy the food and drinks will be. So it’s key to decide what’s right for you and your team and then figure out what your next steps should be. Once you’ve determined your vision for the party, it’s much easier to sort out the rest of the details. 
  • Budget: Your vision for the event and the budget really go hand in hand. Since there’s a fee associated with each part of your event (except the space if you’re hosting it in your office) it’s really important to sit down with your boss and/or coworkers to get on the same page, as we mentioned above. If you have a specific vision for your event, it’s good to do a little research into pricing and get an idea of how much the event will cost. You can then approach your boss or manager with a general outline and walk through what’s realistic on their end. Your budget has to be concrete and clear from the beginning so that you can figure out what you can afford in regards to space, food, drinks and any additional costs, like staff or rentals.
  • Date, Place and Time: This will most likely be the trickiest part of the process because it requires you to coordinate multiple people’s schedules and find one night that every person is available for at least 3 hours. Generally holiday parties are scheduled on a weeknight from the beginning of December until the end of January but again, it’s all about what works for you and your coworkers. Place isn’t as difficult of a factor because it’s usually decided by your budget. Larger companies tend to rent out spaces for holiday parties because they may not be able to fit all of their employees in one office or they have a bigger budget and can afford to go outside the office. Those event spaces commonly book up 3-6 months out from the event (depending on the space) so if you’re planning to go outside the office, definitely start reaching out to event spaces and restaurants as soon as you can to determine their availability. If you’re renting out a space, this will also help you zero in on a date since you will be coordinating with the space’s schedule as well. However, a lot of companies that have tighter budgets or that are looking for something more intimate will do events in the office so that they can put more money towards food and drinks and be in a comfortable setting. Also, hosting the party at your office takes much less coordination and puts the ball in your court for determining timing, since you’re not going off of the space’s time frame. Timing is the final scheduling issue that you need to determine. Most holiday parties run from 6PM to 9PM or 5PM to 9PM, but it really depends on the employees at your company. It’s important to be cognizant of your colleagues’s personal lives (kids, spouses, travel time) and take that into consideration when setting your start and end times. Most of the time the party will start at the end of the work day or 30 minutes after (in case you need to travel to the event space) and end 3 or 4 hours later. However, you don’t want it to end too late and have people be exhausted at work the next day. With timing, it’s good to discuss what people are comfortable with and strike a happy medium.
  • Food and Drinks: Once all of the logistical issues have been determined, it’s time to focus on food and drink. If your team decided to rent out a space, you may be all set as some event spaces have catering on-site and include food and drink menus for a set amount of hours. However, if you’re hosting the event in your office, you have more leeway to figure out if you want a full meal or appetizers and beer, wine, cocktails or soft drinks. In regards to food, most holiday events don’t provide full meals because it’s hard to chat with others while holding a huge plate of food. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the event will be going on during normal dinner hours so your coworkers will be looking to eat. A good way to break it down is pieces per person and work from there. Generally a normal event estimates about 3-4 pieces per person per hour, which if you have a 3 hour event means you’ll need about 9-12 pieces per person to keep them feeling satisfied throughout the party. However, make sure that you’re including options for everyone and considering any food allergies or dietary restrictions when putting the menu together. If you’re not sure about allergies or dietary restrictions, it’s always a good to include a cheese and cracker platter or crudites and dip as an option that almost everyone can eat. Next focus on the drinks. If your company is allowing alcohol to be served, beer and wine are usually the easiest beverages to coordinate. Cocktails are a little more risky because without a bartender everyone will have to pour their own drinks and it’s hard to determine how much you’ll need. Drinks are determined in the same way food is, about 1-2 drinks per person per hour. Once you have an idea of the number of drinks you need, you can then break it down between beer and wine (1 beer is 1 drink, 1 bottle of wine is usually 4 drinks). The safest way to do so is to split it 50/50 and estimate that half of the people will drink wine and half of the people will drink beer. If one runs out before the other, they can always switch over. It’s also good to make sure that you include soft drinks such as water, soda, or juice, into the mix along with the alcohol. Generally we say about 1-2 soft drinks per person during an event. It’s always good to include options in case someone wants to break up their drinks or doesn’t want to drink at all but wants something to sip on throughout the night.
  • Additional Things to Think About, i.e. Staffing, Rentals and Decorations: These ideas are just some additional points to think about and definitely not required for any holiday event. They are extra costs that can or cannot be included with your party, depending again on the event itself and your budget. Staffing is always something to consider, especially if you’re interested in serving drinks at your party. You can hire a bartender to pour wine and beer or a mixologist to create cocktails. You can also have servers at the event passing around appetizers, cleaning up any dirty plates or spills and generally just helping out to make sure that the event runs smoothly. Bartenders and servers usually cost a flat rate and work for 4 or 5 hours. Rentals, such as glassware, tables, linens are another option to consider. If you’re looking to make your party a little more upscale, you can rent wine glasses rather than using plastic cups or cover tables with white linen tablecloths for a nicer presentation. Rental cost differs between rental companies but each place tends to have a minimum amount that you need to spend in order to have them deliver to your office or event space. However, every rental company can give recommendations on what you’ll need depending on the number of people you have and what you’re looking for. Finally, although some decorations can get cheesy, they are a cost effective way to make an event a little more exciting. Incorporating some small items into the mix like lights, streamers and signs can really transform a room and get people into the holiday spirit.

There are a lot of different components to keep in mind when planning a holiday party. But as long as you have an idea of what you want your party to be and your budget is set, it’s easy to make the other details fit around that. And if you don’t feel like considering any of these factors, let us do the work for you! We’ll examine your event requirements, budget, headcount, dietary restrictions, etc. and suggest menu options specific to you and your team. Email us at letseat@foodtoeat.com to receive a custom proposal for your next holiday party! 

**For a limited time only, clients who book their holiday party with us before November 16th will receive 10% off their order of $350 or more!**

(Offer good until Friday, November 16th. Offer good for one holiday party of choice. One per company)

 

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Immigrants Help Create Economic Growth.

As we celebrate the end of Immigrant Heritage Month, it’s important to understand why supporting local, immigrant-run businesses is important and why it’s part of our mission at FoodtoEat. Although there is a social aspect to our desire to promote a community that is underrepresented throughout the U.S., and the obvious reason that the food found in immigrant-run restaurants is typically the most delicious and authentic, many people don’t realize that without immigrants, the U.S. economy and the workforce would be facing major issues.

Immigrants make up about 13% of the population but contribute almost 15% of the economic output in the U.S. This is due to the fact that immigrants are an integral part of the workforce in our country, participating in the labor force at 73% as opposed to the 71% of native-born Americans.

Being represented in a variety of different industries, losing immigrant employees in any area would create large gaps in the workforce that U.S.-born workers would not be able to fill. This is a result of the fact that immigrants are most heavily filling labor-focused jobs. Studies show that immigration actually pushes U.S.-born workers up in the labor market because immigrants are creating the groundwork to support higher-skilled positions and providing more job opportunities for U.S. workers in those areas. In fact, when an immigrant is willing to fill labor-focused job that might otherwise be left open, it creates an average of 4.64 U.S. jobs.

Immigrants are also job creators in the respect that they are more entrepreneurial than native-born workers. In a recent report done by The Partnership for A New American Economy, researchers found that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as a native-born American. In general, immigrants are considered bigger “risk takers” because they are willing to leave their homes in pursuit of potential business opportunities in the U.S. Which explains why 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, such as Apple, IBM and eBay. There is a larger desire to succeed as a immigrant due to the societal pressure both in the U.S. and their home communities to find the “American dream” and more immigrants are willing to accept the challenge.

Food, agriculture and all related industries currently make up about 5% of the U.S. GDP, an area that is only expected to keep growing. Supporting local, immigrant-run businesses in NYC is not only socially important but also crucial to our economy. By working with our team, you can directly impact the economy: creating more jobs for restaurant owners to fill, producing more food for consumers to purchase, increasing the GDP and ultimately putting money back in your own pocket.

So the next time you’re choosing between a chain restaurant and the “hole in the wall” Greek store on the corner, remember the impact that these individuals (and their businesses) will have on our economic future.

 

References:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2011/06/19/40-percent-of-fortune-500-companies-founded-by-immigrants-or-their-children/#dc27f1f4a590
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/immigrants-us-economy-disaster-experts/story?id=45533028
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/immigrants-impact-on-the-u-s-economy-in-7-charts/
https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/openforbusiness.pdf
https://citizenpath.com/immigrant-heritage-month-american-story/
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Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with Us: Join Us on Wednesday, June 20th!

“One of the remarkable things about America is that nearly all of our families originally came from someplace else. We’re a nation of immigrants. It’s a source of our strength and something we all can take pride in.” – Barack Obama

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the diversity that the United States is founded on and the contributions that immigrants continue to make in our country. Immigrant Heritage Month is an initiative that was created in June 2014 by Welcome.us. The focus is to 1. give each person an opportunity to explore their own heritage, 2. gather and share stories to create understanding and 3. to take action by supporting immigrant coworkers, family members, employees, neighbors and friends.

At FoodtoEat, we work directly with women, minority and immigrant-run food businesses throughout NYC because we believe that food is one of the key components of a city’s culture. Without the immigrant businesses that contribute to that culture, you lose a part of the city’s identity. Which is why we are partnering with General Assembly for a panel event in honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, celebrating the immigrant-run businesses that we work with and listening to a few of the stories of vendors that are open to sharing them with us and you!

The panel will be taking place on Wednesday, June 20th from 6:30-8:30PM and will include food that reflects the culture of each panelist. Below is information about each of our panelists and how they came to be involved in New York City’s food industry. RSVP today so that you don’t miss out on this extremely important event that will discuss the issues facing the immigrant population in the United States, the factors that affect restaurant owners and the food industry as a whole, and why our mission of supporting local food businesses is so important.

Kay- Hey Hey Canteen

Kay Ch’ien, Hey Hey Canteen

Kay was born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, where she grew up surrounded by her family’s food business and the delicious and diverse cuisines of both cities. In between college and law school, she spent a fascinating year exploring her family’s roots in Beijing, teaching English and eating her way through the metropolis. A job offer at a law firm allowed her to fulfill a lifelong goal of moving to New York City. After six years as an attorney, she decided to leave “Big Law” to pursue her true passion: Asian cuisine. In 2014 Kay opened the well-received farm to table Chinese restaurant, 2 Duck Goose, and in 2016 she teamed up with Carlos Barrera to bring delicious and wholesome Asian dishes to Brooklyn with the launch of Hey Hey Canteen.

Siwat- Mamu Thai Noodle

Siwat Thitiwatana, Mamu Thai Noodle

Mamu Thai Noodle started as a food truck in 2013 by Siwat and his sister. It was the first Thai food truck in NYC dedicated to Thai noodle dishes. From a successful Kickstarter campaign to the mean streets of NYC to a brick & mortar in Queens to a corporate catering company, the path to fruition was not a conventional one for this company. Using family recipes from his uncle’s noodle shop in Bangkok as well as a few of Chef Siwat’s own, Mamu Thai has just celebrated it’s most successful year to date!

PriaVanda Chouhan- Desi Galli

PriaVanda Chouhan, Desi Galli

Owner PriaVanda Chouhan and her husband opened Desi Galli in 2012 to satisfy the Desi (Indian sub-continent disapora) hankering for Indian soul food. Desi is a Hindustani term for the people, cultures and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and is derived from Sanskrit which means “one from our country”. Galli symbolizes an “alley” or “street”. Though her father warned her husband-to-be that she couldn’t cook, PriaVanda taught herself to make not only her mother’s recipes but also her husband’s family favorites. Inspired by Rachael Ray’s fast and easy methods for putting dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, she turned her home kitchen into a test kitchen, mastering a multitude of Indian recipes every day and developing her own personal style of lighter, healthier, vegan and gluten free cooking without sacrificing flavor.

Their restaurant specializes in Kathi (or Kati) Rolls, Vada Pav, Chaats and Biryani, all of which is prepared in front of diners in their restaurant’s open kitchen. Since they opened they have been featured in a variety of different outlets such as: The Rachael Ray Show, ABC News, TimeOut, Jus Punjabi and the NY Times. They have also been voted best sandwich for their Aloo & Paneer Tikki by Time Out and voted one of the best dishes in NYC by Village Voice for their Bhel Puri.

Charles- Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles Chipengule, Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles was born and raised in Botswana, Africa. He is a mechanical electrician and chef by profession. Growing up in Africa, he had a passion for food and simply loved cooking. After graduating from high school, he was able to save up just enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which helped him fund his technical college and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, Charles eventually had to close down his breakfast stall and emigrated to the United States. After arriving in the United States, Charles worked in restaurants and pursued his cooking dream, despite a great learning curve and increased responsibility. He took culinary classes in New York and got inspired to share the richness and flavor of the African food of his past.

Charles believes in good, healthy eating, which is why he sources his African peppers and herbs straight from Africa, grinding it all in house. All of the unique African dishes that he creates have been handed down through generations and are currently being made all over Africa on a daily basis, from nations North, South, East and West. Today he turns those daily, basic dishes into a meal you will never forget!

 

*Featured image taken from http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/june-2017-immigrant-heritage-month.html
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It’s Time to Treat Mom… with Food!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner (it’s this Sunday, May 13th for those who were still wondering…), which means it’s time to start panicking about a gift. Do you get the typical flowers and candy? Do you try to pick something unique that you think is a good idea but she may or may not like? Do you get the same gift card for a mani/pedi that you got last year??? It’s hard to know what gift is just right to show your mom that you appreciate her and everything that she does for you.

But panic no more! At FoodtoEat, we understand the importance of food and that when you gather together with loved ones, it’s more than just a meal. This Mother’s Day, think outside the box and celebrate mom by combining a food that she loves with an activity that brings you together. Whether you’re spending time together just you two or celebrating with the whole family, any of the ideas below will make your mom feel special for the thought you put into it and you’ll both get to enjoy some amazing food 🙂

1. Plan a pizza crawl! Is your mom obsessed with NY pizza?! Or maybe she’s never tried it! Map out some of your to go places for za and spend the day walking around the city, visiting your favorites spots and maybe trying  some new ones! This will give you some quality time with your mom and an excuse to try out all of the pizzerias that you haven’t checked out yet. The experience of exploring New York and (some of) the pizza that it’s famous for will be something you’ll both remember! And if you need some recommendations, our list of pizza places would definitely include Prince Street Pizza, Rubirosa, Joe’s Pizza, Emily, Bleecker Street Pizza and Roberta’s…. just sayin!

2. Buy tickets to a cooking class! If your mom is into cooking, a class where she gets to learn how to make one of her favorite foods is the perfect way to show your support for something that she loves to do. Make the gesture even more special by customizing it for her! Does she have a sweet tooth? Check out a gelato or macaron making class. Sushi lover? Find a class that will teach her to make her own California rolls! If you think that’s not enough, buy yourself a ticket and do the class with her! Spending time together doing something that she loves to do will show her that you appreciate her and are willing to spend time doing things that she enjoys, even if you’re horrible at it!

3. Learn how to pair your wine. If activities aren’t your mom’s style (or yours), there are plenty of informational classes that allow you to sip on some wine, eat some cheese and relax while you gain some knowledge about the different wines and the food that they go well with. If your mom is a wine lover, she’ll be excited to put the information that she learned to use at home or the next time that she’s hosting a party! If she’s not into wine pairing, you can always plan for a wine tasting or, if your mom is into beer, a beer tasting! All of these classes usually have an instructor so this is the easiest option to execute last minute. There’s not much coordination needed on your end, which will allow you to relax, drink, eat and enjoy the class with your mom!

4. Food. Festival. If your mom is adventurous when it comes to food, bringing her to a food festival is a great way to spend Mother’s Day! With so many different cuisines available in one place, she will be able to taste a bunch of amazing food that she may not usually try or be familiar with. Smorgasburg and Queens Night Market are two really popular food festivals that run on the weekends until October, so even if you can’t make it this weekend, you can make a plan to go with your mom one weekend when you both are free! If your mom isn’t able to get into the city, do some research to see what’s available in her area! New food festivals are popping up every season so if you’re in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island or Westchester and don’t want to travel, try to find something around you that might work! 

The most important thing to keep in mind for Mother’s Day is that your gift should be based on what your mom enjoys doing, whether that’s cooking, trying new foods or drinks, or pizza crawling! A thoughtful gift that really takes her interests into account and allows you to spend time together will be more valuable to her than anything else.

 

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Celebrating Administrative Professionals: Ways to Say Thank You!

You may not recognize it on a daily basis, but administrative professionals are one of the most important parts of your company. They are constantly coordinating meals, booking meetings, planning events, keeping track of important information and making sure that everything in your office is running smoothly. Wednesday, April 25th is a day dedicated to honoring these individuals, understanding all of the hard work that they do for your company and finding small ways to celebrate and appreciate them. Below are some fun and thoughtful ways to say “thank you” to the people that keep you sane, but whatever way you celebrate, make sure that you keep plans/gifts focused on the person being celebrated! Every person is different, so it’s crucial to recognize what he/she values and customize your ideas to fit who they are and how they need to be appreciated!

Plan a personalized afternoon snack or happy hour. Personalized can mean themed- if he/she really loves Mexican food you can make it an afternoon fiesta, with sombreros, maracas, quesadillas, chips and guacamole, etc.- or it can literally mean personalized, i.e. ordering cookies or cupcakes with their name or a “thank you” message written on them! Pick a snack or some finger foods that you think they’ll really enjoy and get the team together to celebrate! This is a great way to publicly recognize your admin for all of his/her hard work and give your colleagues a chance to show their appreciation by allowing them to say a few words during the snack or happy hour. Whether they say it out loud or privately pull them aside, hearing positive messages from coworkers will show them how much they are valued in your office!

Take them to lunch! Looking for a more formal way to show your appreciation? Say it over lunch (or breakfast, if they prefer!). Treat your admin to a sit down meal at a restaurant that he/she chooses or a place that you know he/she loves and make sure that you take the reigns on the planning to set up the meal. Since he/she may be the person that usually coordinates your lunch meetings or team meals, they will appreciate not having to take care of all of the details. While at lunch, tell them personally how much you appreciate their hard work. Give examples of things he/she has done in the past that you really loved and how they contribute to the culture in the office. Also, be open to discussing their role at the company and how they may expand their role in the future or move into a new position if/when it becomes available. Nothing shows that you value an employee more than investing in them and their future at your company!

Brighten their day with flowers, coffee, candy, etc.! A small gesture can go a long way. If you don’t know it already, figure out his/her favorite coffee shop and surprise them with a fresh cup in the morning! Or ask around to other coworkers and see what candy he/she loves and leave them all over their desk to snack on during the day. If you frequently see him/her returning to the office with smoothies from Juice Generation, buy them a gift card for the next smoothie craving! Whatever you choose to buy, make it something unique that he/she will really love and that shows that you put thought into a gift that would improve their day. It’s less about the item and more about the thought and care behind the purchase!

 

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 4: “We all rise together”

The last (but definitely not least) feature in our Women’s History month Series is Elizabeth Solomon, the Founder and CEO of King David Tacos! Liz’s mission is to bring her Texas-style breakfast tacos to the hustle and bustle of corporate life in NYC and these tacos does not disappoint! Delicious and filling, they’re exactly what you need to spice up breakfast at your office or prepare you for a long day of meetings. Did we mention the queso?  (drool).

When and how did your business get started?

King David Tacos (KDT) is a woman-owned and Brooklyn-founded business, established in June 2016. We aim to bring one of the best exports from Austin, TX to the daily lives of New Yorkers: breakfast tacos. We got started just like any good business—on a wing and a prayer…right? But seriously, we started this crazy journey after I had just about burned out on the advertising industry. So I decided to pursue every Texan-in-New York’s dream: bringing a food to NYC that is so prevalent in Texas and makes so much sense for the New Yorker lifestyle but is nowhere to be found…until now! We are focused on making breakfast tacos that are simple and delicious, and we tailor everything we do to the fast-paced lifestyle of discerning New Yorkers. We opened NYC’s first breakfast taco cart at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park in September 2017 and the second cart opened on Wall Street in November 2017. But we’ve been catering to offices all over NYC since we started!

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Besides being a forever homesick Texan, King David Tacos was actually inspired by my dad, David. He was called “King David” in jest by friends and colleagues- he was a big, burly guy who really could command a room. He loved New York, he loved food and he was really passionate about the idea that NYC needed a breakfast taco cart. King David Tacos is in homage to him. But beyond all the mushy stuff, I do believe that there is/was a big hole in the market for a wholesome, satisfying (without being indulgent), grab & go breakfast. Besides the fact that breakfast tacos bring people joy (as do most tacos), we are also filling a need.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

Everything is hard when you’re running a business! But the hardest part (in food specifically) is consistency. I think that’s something we can really pride ourselves on now- a consistent product. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes restaurants to output the same dishes over and over, giving you, and the person after you, and the person after that, the same experience every time. Obviously a lot of successful restaurants do just that but before I was really behind the scenes, I couldn’t appreciate the work that goes into creating consistency. I mean, you’re dealing with people and so many other factors, not just machines (at least in most kitchens)!

But big picture, I think the hardest thing that I’ve had to learn, or really, the biggest challenge for me, especially since I changed industries, is how to build our employee base properly. I’m really lucky to have a core team now that I trust immensely. But it took time and some anguish to get here. Back in the day in advertising, when I was hiring people to work on my accounts, I was  hiring people that are pretty much like me. People that are going to help me do my job and probably do a lot of the same things day-to-day that I do. But when it comes to running your own business, you’re hiring for all aspects of the operation. You’re hiring someone and then training them and then managing them as well as the rest of your employees and getting everyone to gel and work together like a well-oiled machine. It is a huge challenge! But when it works, it’s hugely rewarding.

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

Can I answer like Adam Rippon? “Being a female business owner has impacted my business just like being a male business owner would—I work really hard, just with better eyebrows.” 😉

The other part of the answer is, yes, being in food especially, I get some surprised reactions when people realize that the owner/chef is a female (especially being called King David Tacos). At our carts, I’ll be standing with one of our male cart attendants, and consistently, people look at him and ask, “Are you the owner?” I just laugh, and the employee standing with me will laugh too, because it’s an honest assumption. I think it just shows how deeply our societal norms are ingrained, no matter your intentions. The flip side of that is that I get a lot of bonus excitement by women and men alike to support a woman-owned business.

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

The mission is important from an economic perspective for sure. Diversity of ideas breeds better business, and all of that. But taking it a bit further, I think that we come at it from a unique perspective too, because half of the mobile food vending businesses are actually minority and immigrant-run (at least in NYC). It’s important to highlight innovation and support good business coming out of these kinds of industries because being in the minority— whether it’s via gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity— can put you at an automatic disadvantage. But having people look out for you and lift you up benefits the group (I mean the human race, the world) as a whole. We all rise together.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Learn to trust your intuition, be persistent, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. When you have an idea that’s new, it’s going to receive push-back. You need to be strong enough to (a) navigate and course-correct when needed but (b) also know when to barrel forward.

 

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 3: “Create the platform that supports the mission”

 

Our third feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Yemisi Awosan, the founder and CEO of Egunsi Foods, a Harlem-based food company that focuses on producing locally-sourced refrigerated African food. Although they now focus on their individually packaged farm-to-table soups, Egunsi Foods still offers catering through FoodtoEat and is the perfect option if you want to try something new for lunch and introduce your office to a flavorful and unique cuisine!

When and how did your business get started?

I started Egunsi Foods in 2014. In order to see if there was any interest in West African food, I started testing out the market, offering my services through catering and as a personal chef. Once I found that there was an audience for this cuisine and that my idea was validated, I was able to create an extended product line that is now sold at Whole Foods Market, Fairway Market, on FoodKick and Goldbely in New York City.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

My inspiration is to tell/share the story of my Africa, my culture through it’s food. I partner with farmers in West Africa to source their raw materials for Egunsi’s final products. My philosophy is to actively give back to African farmers and create a long-term impact through social entrepreneurship rather than a short-term donation through philanthropy.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you will be the most passionate about your vision for your business. But you have to find ways to have others buy into that same vision that you have; and it may not be at the same level as your passion, but you need to find people that fall somewhere around that neighborhood and understand and appreciate your product.

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

I think being a female business owner has impacted my business in that I have to be extremely detail-oriented and super organized because I have to wear many hats as I run my business.  

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

I believe that the FoodtoEat mission is important because they create the platform that supports the mission. They are providing the opportunity that allows the mission to be actionable.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Go after the dream(s)/goal(s) that you set for yourself. You don’t want to look back years from now and wish that you could have gone after them. Even if it doesn’t work out or if it doesn’t work out as you envisioned it, at least you tried and gave it your all. So no regret- I live by this philosophy.

0 comments on “Women’s History Month Series, Part 2: “The future is most definitely female””

Women’s History Month Series, Part 2: “The future is most definitely female”

 

Our second feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Ashley Jaffe, the co-founder of Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen, NYC’s cutest cafe located at 121 Madison Avenue! Ashley and her husband, Zach, strike the perfect mix with their upscale “coffeehouse” food, offering gourmet breakfast and lunch options as well as artisan coffee, craft beef and wine. Their food is known for adding a twist to your favorite, classic dishes and using fresh ingredients that makes their food as delicious as it is picturesque (see our Instagram where they are frequently featured)!

When and how did your business get started?

We opened our first store, Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen, in November 2015. I come from an extensive public relations background (specifically focusing on food & beverage) and had always wanted to take the leap into the operations side of the business. My husband had been operating bars and restaurants for years and was looking to open a new daytime concept. So we decided to partner up and open a café together!

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We set out to open a restaurant/coffee shop hybrid! We love coffee and great food and at the time, the concept really didn’t exist. We never understood why coffee shops were only offering soggy grab & go sandwiches. Customers should be able to get a great meal and a killer cup of coffee at the same place. So we set out to give them just that.

What is the biggest/hardest lesson you’ve learned through running a business?

I’ve learned the importance of a strong team that you can really trust. A business owner works so hard to ensure every last piece is perfectly in place, and then it’s up to the staff to execute those practices. Sometimes it’s great and other times a cashier just broke up with her boyfriend or is having a horrible day and is rude to every customer that walks in, which is not okay. I’ve learned the importance of extensive employee training and constant one-on-one conversations with each and every employee about the importance of customer service and quality work. As a business owner, you need to work endlessly to ensure that you have the right team that’s happy and proud to do good work for you. At the end of the day, your business is in their hands. 

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

I’ve seen the good and the bad of being a female-owned business. I’ve had not-so-nice people come in asking to speak with my husband, even after I’ve told them that I’m the co-owner of the business. But I’ve also seen so many people be extra supportive of our business because it’s female-owned. Wanting to shout us out on social media or order catering from us rather than a different restaurant simply because they want to support other women has been amazing to see!

Working with FoodtoEat means that you support the mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think the FoodtoEat mission is important?

I think the mission is amazing – especially in the food business. Women and minorities make up the majority of our team and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them! It’s so important to give these groups a voice and it’s incredible that a company in this space has recognized that.

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Go for it! I promise you- you will be more pleasantly surprised by the support that comes your way than the obstacles that you think you may face. The future is most definitely female!

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Women’s History Month Series, Part 1: “Never Stop Hustling”

 

Our first feature in our Women’s History Month Series is Lily Brynes, the founder and CEO of SPOTS NYC! These delicious, customizable mini cupcakes come in four different flavors: birthday cake, brownie batter, red velvet and vanilla. Each cupcake contains an edible logo or message, making them exactly what you need for your next happy hour, pitch meeting or birthday party! 

When and how did your business get started?

In 2014, my now-fiance, Samson and I, decided to ditch materialistic Valentine’s Day gifts in exchange for ones with more personal value. After many failed ideas, I got the bright idea to whip out my edible printer and bake some mini cupcakes with our picture on them. I knew the cupcakes would be meaningful since they would be personalized, homemade and delicious. Needless to say, Samson loved them. Shortly after posting pictures of what I was calling “SPOTS” on my personal Instagram account, I found that others loved them too. Following my instinct I made the decision to walk away from my corporate job to pursue SPOTS NYC full-time. I haven’t looked back since! Today, we’ve worked with companies such as Amazon, Google, American Express, Starwood and Target. As well as a handful of celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica-Parker, Neil Patrick-Harris, Mariah Carey and Reese Witherspoon… just to name a few!

What is the biggest/hardest lesson that you’ve learned while running a business?

How to turn mistakes into an opportunity! It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes (running a business is hard!) but it’s about how you deal with those mistakes that makes you a better leader. For instance, if you handle the mistake in a creative and unique way – your client wont remember how you messed up, they will remember how you went above and beyond to correct the mistake. You have the power to control the narrative!

How do you think being a female business owner has impacted your business?

Being a female business owner has been so special. Not only do I feel like I am helping to change the world (lean in, ladies and take a seat at the table!!), but I also have access to an amazing network of other female founders. When we come together and support each other – there’s nothing that we cant do! It has never been more important to be a strong woman! 

Working with our company means that you support FoodtoEat’s mission to promote female, minority and immigrant run businesses. Why do you think this mission is important?

I think FoodtoEat’s mission is the MOST important thing to support. We need to do everything in our power, especially right now, to make this world a better and more accepting place. Female (and immigrant run) businesses should become the MAJORITY!!!

What would be your advice to other female entrepreneurs that are trying to start their own business?

Never stop hustling. Never let anyone get in the way of your dreams (especially a man). Don’t just reach for the stars, reach for the sun!!!  

0 comments on “Our Catering Account Managers are Superheroes.”

Our Catering Account Managers are Superheroes.

 

Catering Account Managers are the engine of the FoodtoEat machine. This role is a pivotal part of the company. Each day, Catering Account Mangers are creating proposals, coordinating with clients and vendors, placing and confirming orders, making sure meals go smoothly and above all, keeping clients happy! Although the day to day tasks may generally stay the same, each day is filled with different challenges that need to be handled efficiently and effectively, which makes every day different from the last.

An Account Manager’s job is to make the client’s catering process simple and stress-free but, as is the nature of the food industry, mistakes happen and issues come up. In order to give you, our clients, a better understanding of the time and coordination that it takes to get from the initial “I need catering” email to your team eating delicious food from one of our local vendors, we’ve broken down the responsibilities of Catering Account Manager and explained how they do what they do.

Daily Tasks of a Catering Account Manager:

Creating proposals. When a client calls or emails with a catering request, the first step is to get all of the details and create a proposal. Generally proposals contain 3 menu options from 3 different vendors. Our Catering Account Managers create the menus and portion the meals themselves, so they have an vast knowledge of each vendor’s menu: what cuisine they offer, how many people each tray of beef or salad feeds, if the vendor charges extra for plates/napkins/utensils, etc. Using this knowledge, the Account Manager will filter through vendors that will work for the client considering the following factors: budget, headcount, dietary restrictions, delivery address and delivery date and time. Because we don’t want client’s meals to become repetitive and we want to introduce clients to new vendors and cuisines, they also look at past orders to see what cuisines the client has had in the past and try to include new and different options. These proposals are being generated for multiple clients, multiple times a day. But the detail that goes into hand-crafting each and every proposal for our clients is what makes our Catering Account Managers so awesome- you truly get a customized experience based on your office’s needs.

Coordinating with clients and vendors. Aside from interacting with clients, Catering Account Managers are also constantly touching base with our vendors: confirming menu pricing, seeing if vendors are available for an order, updating menus and most commonly, getting special pricing. Sometimes clients need something very specific for a meal, such as a dinosaur themed baby shower or cookies with their company’s logo printed on them. In these situations, Catering Account Manager must confer directly with the vendor and create a custom menu for the client, since these items don’t come on a standard catering menu. The Account Manager is responsible for conveying to the vendor exactly what the client wants and then must wait for the vendor to get back to them with how much it will cost. Since vendors are usually dealing with their own in-house orders or lunch/dinner rushes if they are a restaurant, it can often take a few hours or even days for the vendor to get back to them. The responsibility lies on the Catering Account Manager to make sure that they are continuously following up with the vendor for the pricing that they need as well as making sure that the custom menu is meeting the client’s expectations.

Placing and confirming orders. Once a menu has been selected by the client for their meal or event, it is the Catering Account Managers job to then place the order in our system with the vendor. To place the order, they must have all relevant delivery details on file so that they can give as much detail as possible to the vendor about the order. Since the vendor isn’t coordinating directly with the client, it’s extremely important that all details on an order are as specific as possible so that there is no miscommunication on the vendor’s end. These details include delivery address (including floor or suite), delivery contact name and phone number, delivery time and event start time (so that time is given for the vendor to set up the food for the client), if the delivery needs to go through a freight elevator or if there’s a certain procedure that must be followed in regards to delivering/setting up the food. Once the order is placed, it is also the Catering Account Manager’s duty to confirm that the vendor received the order and is clear on all of the delivery details. They must also follow up with the vendor on the day of the order to be sure that everything is on track to be delivered at the requested time and that nothing is missing from the order.

Last minute changes/cancellations/updates. If an order is cancelled or moved to a different day, if a delivery time is changed or the headcount on a meal is increased, the Catering Account Manager is the person taking care of it. They are responsible for communicating any changes on the order to the vendor and making sure that the vendor has an updated order form with those changes clearly noted.

Now that we’ve given a breakdown of the many tasks a Catering Account Manager is taking care of each day, below are two ways that you can help your Catering Account Manager improve the service that they provide to you and other clients!

How You Can Help Make Us Better:

Providing feedback on meals. After each meal is delivered to a client, a meal feedback form is sent out asking a few questions about what the client thought of the meal. We know that this can be time consuming when you already have a million things on your plate but we try to make the feedback form as quick and as painless as possible, while also garnering information about the vendor, the delivery and the meal itself. As a client, if you really loved or really hated something- let us know! Feedback helps the Catering Account Manager understand what your team likes and dislikes: if everyone loved the chicken, they’ll portion that a little heavier next time, or if the salmon was blah, they’ll make a note to discuss that with the vendor and see how it can be improved for another client. This feedback helps the Account Managers learn more about each client’s preferences and build a profile on the client for future proposal building. The bottom line: helping us helps you and is the best way for us  to improve our service.

Call or email catering requests as soon as you get them. We know that meetings come up last minute- it happens with us too! But as you get closer to your meal delivery time, the window of available vendors gets smaller. Most vendors are able to turn around an order within 24-48 hours but since we do work with a lot of local, mom & pop shops throughout NYC, many don’t have the staffing or extra food materials on hand to cook and deliver meals that aren’t scheduled a few days in advance. We are definitely able to accommodate those orders that pop up the night before or day of a meal (and we have in the past) but we’re able to give you a better range of options and create a better experience for you and your team when we have advance notice. The more lead time you can give us on an order, the better our service can work for you and the happier you’ll be with your meal!

0 comments on “Do good and make money at the same time? It’s possible and necessary.”

Do good and make money at the same time? It’s possible and necessary.

A few weeks ago, Laurence D. Fink, CEO of BlackRock, one of the world’s largest global asset management firms, in an open letter to CEOs, point-blank told businesses it is their responsibility to do social good.

He writes, “many governments are failing to prepare for the future, on issues ranging from retirement and infrastructure to automation and worker retraining. As a result, society increasingly is turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges.”

An impactful call to action coming from the founder of the of the world’s largest investment firms worth $6 trillion.

Social good and capitalism are becoming intrinsically linked because the world is demanding it. It’s no wonder that brand activism is the latest trend in the business world. A trend that seems like it’s here to stay if Fink’s letter is any indication.

Most large-scale corporations have philanthropic arms and for the past several decades, corporate social responsibility has become a mainstay in the business world.

But what if businesses went further than that? What if we become truly focused on the idea that profits don’t have to come at the cost of doing good or addressing social issues? There is a growing perception that it’s actually the right thing to do long term from a profit standpoint.

The very essence of FoodtoEat is to be invested (pun intended) in the idea of social good and community. We’re building a diverse food community by empowering small restaurant owners, many of whom are immigrants and women, to grow and sustain their businesses. We help food vendors connect with larger-scale corporate clients, bring in more cash and grow their business. Our business model is based on providing services to small business owners that are often underrepresented and overlooked. Not only do we connect small businesses with corporate clients they couldn’t reach on their own, we also help vendors create catering menus and improve their catering operation through feedback given at in-house tastings.

So, what’s our secret sauce for creating profits and contributing to society at the same time? Here are our three ingredients:

  1. We support small businesses get bigger clients and grow their revenue.
  2. We’re truly invested in diversity, specifically immigrant, minority and female-run food vendors.
  3. By introducing international cuisines to our corporate clients, we’re bridging the gap between different worlds.  

 

Resources:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2018/02/03/how-to-heed-blackrocks-call-for-corporate-social-responsibility/#54a26e37290a
https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanmcpherson/2018/01/12/8-corporate-social-responsibility-csr-trends-to-look-for-in-2018/2/#efe1f7f54e2f
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/04/25/why-more-and-more-companies-are-doing-social-good/#39bb8189db07
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/23/blackrocks-push-for-social-responsibility-shows-shift-in-companies.html
0 comments on “How FoodtoEat benefits you. (and your local food community)”

How FoodtoEat benefits you. (and your local food community)

At FoodtoEat, our mission is to unite people around the communal table and add diversity to the food community by championing small businesses from every neighborhood. So why should this matter to you?

  1. Team meals build office communities, improving teamwork and promoting success. Creating a happy and healthy workplace is not always an easy task. In a fast-paced environment like NYC, it can feel like you’re constantly racing to your next meeting, rushing to meet deadlines and answering calls at all hours of the day and night. Therefore, creating a time during the day (or week) for employees to come together and take a moment to decompress is pivotal. A team meal provides the perfect opportunity for colleagues to take a break from work, bringing together different members of your team that might not usually cross paths. Food and the discussion that it creates allows bonds to be formed between coworkers, making the office a place that they want to return to rather than a place that they have to return to. The inclusiveness of a team meal makes employees feel accepted and appreciated for their hard work, as well as that they have colleagues they can talk to when work is becoming too stressful. Employees that are well-fed are happier in the work place because they feel that their company is investing in them just as much as they invest in the company.
  2. Providing a unique experience keeps you top of mind with clients. As a FoodtoEat client, we strive to give you (and your clients) a taste of New York! We believe that amazing food can create an experience that goes beyond a board meeting or a lunch, amazing food can show your clients why they should have you handling their next big ad campaign or building their new website. At FoodtoEat, we have cuisines from Italian to Caribbean to South African and everything in between, making it easy to customize each meal to make sure that your clients leave impressed, knowing that you didn’t just order sandwiches and salad from the deli downstairs 20 minutes beforehand but that you put time and energy into finding a cuisine that you know their boss particularly enjoys or welcoming international clients to a new city with NY’s finest: hot pretzels and pizza. The food that we’re able to provide, created by our diverse vendors, makes the food a part of the meeting, creating an experience that your clients will remember and that will make you stand out. Showing attention to detail with your food can transform sustenance into a story and make it a memorable selling point.
  3. Supporting local, small businesses builds the community outside your office walls.  Some of the best food in NYC is created in the mom and pop shops that are standing room only or at the food cart on the corner. Unfortunately, most of these small businesses don’t have the infrastructure or capital to offer catering on their own. That’s where we come in! Our goal is to bring that food into your office, let you taste how delicious it is and tell the story about where it’s coming from. Allowing us to bring local vendors into your office to cater your breakfasts/lunches/dinners/afternoon snacks, helps expand their business and create opportunities for them that were previously beyond their reach. It also helps you, as a company, define your own mission: What do you value? How can a seemingly insignificant decision about food improve the local food community around you? How can you make an impact?

New York City is made up of the small businesses that we focus on promoting. They are a part of our city’s culture, shaping us as global citizens and reminding us of the hard work and determination that comes with running any business. In our current social climate, supporting your local food community is more important than ever before. When so many factors divide us, food is a common denominator- a reason to come together and share different parts of ourselves, our cultures and our identities.