Caterer Andrew Karsh shows off some of the family meals available at The Lincoln last year. Facebook image
Written by Edward Smith
The State of California announced that beginning April 15, indoor concerts, theater performances and private gatherings can begin to return for counties in less restrictive tiers.
For caterers desperate for business, some are glad for any help, while others say a return to normalcy is still months away.
“As a caterer, it’s only good news for me,” said Chuck Evans, owner of Chuck’s BBQ Catering in Fresno. Last year was a horrible mess, he said. A lot of venues are now operating despite the rules, but being able to operate without fear of reprisal means more opportunities.
Another barbecue caterer said he was happy to get what he could.
Andrew Karsh, owner and executive chef of Karsh’s Catering, said a lot of caterers need events with 150 guests to even be worth the while. He’s done a number of small box lunches, but those mostly just keep him busy. The amount of work needed for a party of 25 is often the same as that of a party of 150, considering the special requests that often go into small parties.
People who want catering for small events often want gourmet food, giving Kash some license to get creative.
“Sometimes it allows me to move away from the chicken and tri-tip that Fresno always wants,” Karsh said.
In 2020, demand for Karsh’s catering business dropped almost 40%. He is a part owner of Lincoln Pub and Grub in Fresno’s Tower District, and the restaurant side has helped him stay afloat.
During the first shutdown, they turned to to-go and business was decent. But the day they allowed them to open to 25%, demand for to-go dropped off. The small size of The Lincoln limited their profitability. That day, they lost 30% of their business, Karsh said.
“We’re a bar that became a restaurant, we’d like to get back to being a bar,” Karsh said.
Calls have begun coming in and people are starting to show interest in hosting events.
The phone started ringing again in March, Karsh said. People are asking about scheduling events for later in the year. Some requests are even as far out as two years.
A number of those calls have been for weddings, which many put on hold in 2020.
But Karsh still thinks it won’t be until 2022 that things return to normalcy.