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2013 Best Catering Service: Park Avenue Catering

Author: John Abbott
May, 2013 Issue

“An important part of what we do as a company is to become a part of our community.” —Bruce Riezenman

Our readers must think of Park Avenue Catering as the ultimate comfort food—for the fourth time in a row, they’ve voted the Santa Rosa caterer the Best in its class. The company, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, specializes in all types of corporate and social events, prides itself on using local ingredients and was the first green-certified caterer in Napa and Sonoma counties.
“We take the award seriously, in that it comes from our local business community,” says Bruce Riezenman, executive chef and owner. “An important part of what we do as a company is to become a part of our community. We do this through our many charitable contributions as well as by providing excellence in our food and service. To be recognized as outstanding in our field is something we’re all very proud of. Our business is 45 percent corporate, 45 percent social and 10 percent nonprofit, so the recognition of this segment of our business is very important to us.”
From Riezenman’s perspective, the keys to the company’s success are its excellence in execution and “our ability to ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. This lets us assist our clients in determining the goals for their events and ensuring that we help make them happen. When it comes to corporate events, the goals can be customer or employee appreciation, product launches or other possibilities. With our experience and expertise, we can help accomplish their goals.”
Park Avenue’s business model is one of the things that differentiates it from its competitors in the catering industry. While the company is large compared to many, each of its sales teams has its own clients and operates essentially as a small business within a larger umbrella, taking advantage of the efficiencies the organization provides without losing sight of the details that make or break an event.
“The sales teams work closely together and share knowledge and insights readily,” Riezenman points out. “Another area where we excel is logistics. This will be our fourth year in charge of the kitchen and dining room for the Sonoma County Wine Auction Luncheon, and we’ve done the Harvest Fair Gala dinner for the two years of its existence. That’s due to our systems and the level of quality that we can attain at all levels.
“The last area where we stand out is longevity. I have 25 employees who’ve been with me for more than 10 years. That’s a big accomplishment in this industry.”
Despite a sputtering economy, Park Avenue had its best year in company history in 2011 when its business grew by more than 20 percent. “In 2012, we had our second-best year ever, and in 2013 we’ll surpass it,” Riezenman says.
In addition to the booming catering business, Riezenman opened a restaurant in Sonoma called Park 121 last year, returning to his roots as a restaurant owner and chef (you may remember him from Prospect Park in Santa Rosa and Buona Sera in Petaluma). “It’s been 19 years since my last restaurant and this has been fun,” he says. “We’ve also expanded our reach into Napa, where we’ve entered into an exclusive partnership with the Harvest Inn to sell and produce their weddings.” 



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