Tasty Catering: A Recipe for Successful Small Business

Posted by Matt Reilly on Feb 16, 2017 4:08:00 PM

From their website: “Just like many other companies, a long list of “right time, right place, right people” moments describe the foundation of Tasty Catering.”


Tasty Catering began in Chicago as Tasty Dawg, a small hot dog fast food joint that opened in the 1980s. It was a hit with the locals and soon expanded to several locations, but something peculiar was happening. The catering arm of the business was growing faster than anything else. Corporate catering, company picnics, luncheons, entire business events. The orders were flooding in.


It got to the point where the restaurant branches were holding the company back. So what’s a company supposed to do when your secondary strategy becomes the real bread-winner?


When to Change, When to Stay the Same

The three owners (and brothers), Tom, Larry, and Kevin decided to shift the company’s focus from a chain of sit-down hot dog places to a full-time, full-service catering business. By 2005,  the fast food shops were shut down, more employees were hired, and Tasty Catering moved into a much larger space just outside Chicago to better fill their orders.


Every summer (the busy season), Tasty Catering provides jobs for over 200 people in the greater Chicago area.


You Need that Special Sauce

You might wonder why Tasty hasn’t made this wildly successful local business into a franchise, or opened another location in the US. But if you asked any of the people who work there, they’d probably tell you this: you can’t copy culture.


Tasty Catering really believes in their culture statement, as a rock-bottom credo for how to do business, with both customers and co-workers. You can’t replicate culture like you can replicate a deep-dish pizza recipe. A lot of things had to come together to make Tasty as successful as it is, and one of those things is a strong business culture unique to the people in that one-of-a-kind Chicago location.


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