The summer months in Rochester bring family reunions, weddings and all sorts of events. Busy schedules don’t always allow for home-cooked meals, but at Tasteful Connections, fresh, home cooking is their bread and butter.
Tasteful Connections is a family-owned business located at 1 Whipple Lane in Irondequoit. Whether they’re working on-site in their 2,500-square-foot party room or off-site, Tasteful Connections caters a variety of occasions from cocktail parties to corporate events.
“We started with a small rented space on Monroe Avenue, kind of like a deli operation,” says Sandra Holloway, founder and president of Tasteful Connections. “Then my family started to take an interest in the business, and one by one they left what they were doing to join me.”
Holloway credits her mother as part of her inspiration in running her own company combining food, beverage and hospitality. She looks back fondly on the elaborate meals and desserts that her mother would make. An accomplished baker, Holloway’s mother brought her own cookie bouquet business with her when she moved to Rochester to join Holloway in the catering business.
“(My mother) always loved to be in the kitchen and loved to make wholesome, healthy food,” she says. “Food was always in our blood.”
Early menus for Tasteful Connections were inspired from old family favorites such as egg and olive or chicken salad with almonds and tarragon.
“Typically it was all food we enjoyed growing up that we wanted other people to enjoy,” says Holloway. “Sometimes people don’t have enough homemade food, and for a variety of reasons they end up with anything except home-cooked meals. But we’ve evolved our menus over the years, and since food has become really trendy and popular we’ve evolved with it. We’re not the type of caterers that are ostentatious or pretentious; we are who we are and hopefully people like us for that.”
Tasteful Connections recognizes the importance of honing in on a craft and developing a system so that the operation can run as smoothly as possible. Businesses value this system when it comes to choosing a caterer for their event, and Tasteful Connections finds that their menus and work ethic is appealing for corporate events.
“Companies are always looking to do something different,” says Holloway. “They’re also looking to establish a relationship with a business that they can count on repeatedly, so they’re not reinventing the wheel every time they host an event.”
Holloway noted that the ability to have fun and get creative with an event is what it’s all about.
“The events we enjoy the most are station-style, hors d’oeuvres or celebrations where we can really get creative and show off a lot of the different food items, serving pieces and décor that we do to make a party visually pleasing,” she says.
Having a small business is about more than work and profiting, though. The networking opportunities are endless.
“I like knowing what’s going on around town,” says Holloway. “Helping promote other businesses or companion businesses, whether they specialize in venues or décor, I think it’s really important that we all help each other out in the industry so we can thrive. Rochester is really a dynamite town with a lot of opportunities.”
Opening a small business takes a leap of faith, and though it may not always work out the way you planned, the journey may offer a worthwhile surprise.
“I think if it’s in your heart and it’s what makes you happy then you’ve got to go for it and take the risk,” says Holloway. “With patience and perseverance, it’s fun to see what you can accomplish.”
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