Simple Concepts Win, and Keep, Clients

Sarah Russell has turned her love of cooking into a full-time catering business.

Sarah Russell has turned her love of cooking into a full-time catering business.

When it comes to winning and retaining clients simple, straight-forward concepts still work — and work well.  That’s a tenet that Sarah Russell of Perfect Pear Catering in Sparks, Nevada, never forgets. “Taste is everything. A dish doesn’t have to be complicated to be good,” she says. Russell has built a part-time, extra-cash, concept into a full-time endeavor — and now added a commercial kitchen to her business. Perfect Pear Catering is a busy, profitable endeavor offering heart-healthy dishes and top-notch service for clients throughout northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe region. In 2013, the company catered 30 weddings, more than 40 other large events plus provided meals to individual families.  The Perfect Pear’s summer wedding calendar was booked up in January. Russell grew up in Sparks and now has three children. She always loved to cook and entertain – earning rave reviews from friends and family.  Just over four years ago, she and a friend – also named Sarah – decided to try to earn a little extra money for their families by turning those skills into a small business. “We were a good pair – which is how we came up with the play on words for the name of business,” Russell said.  They had modest goals at first. “We thought we’d do a couple of events now and then and make about $500 a month,” Russell said.   Wrong.  In 2009, they started offering to cater events for friends, and soon friends of friends were calling. “It was all by word of mouth. We started working for friends and family, and the business just took off,” she said. When her cooking partner moved out of the area, Russell considered closing, but people kept calling. She now runs the business herself and employs two chefs and 10 event staffers, plus she has hired a bookkeeper and a web designer — and she’s expanding. Having a great support network and staff  lets her focus on growing her business. “I love being in the kitchen, but having great chefs and staff lets me work on design for the events. Each event is custom, we don’t just slap out chaffing dishes,” she said. The company still gets most of its clients by referral and Russell creates custom menus for both private and corporate events.

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