Keeping a business afloat for more than three decades is no easy feat, but one South San Francisco catering and design company has done just that.
Events, Etc..., which has been located at Oyster Point since 1989, celebrated its 31st anniversary July 4 and this is because of a commitment to changing with the times, said its president and founder Barbara (Bobbie) Fakkema. She’s worked with big-time public figures like high-profile politicians, Nobel Prize winners and CEOs, along with big companies like Hewlett Packard, garnering her the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1990. She has been named by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in the “Top 50 Woman Owned Businesses.”
“There’s a lot of people that go into business and don’t last,” she said. “It’s staying flexible and agile. If you aren’t, it’s not going to work.”
One example of such agility has been a shift in the food options the last eight years. The full-service, fine dining catering and production company makes local organic food for its events that include weddings, parties, family gatherings, corporate events and meetings.
“If someone wants Indian cuisine, we do that,” she said. “ He (Chef Brian White) works on the menus with them to give them what they want. People don’t want heavy food anymore. … A lot of people right now have special diets of no soy, dairy, wheat. There’s a lot menus we’re writing now with these restrictions. You can’t just put a menu up and say ‘this is our menu’ because that’s not what people want today; they want to lead happy, full lives.”
The boutique company creates a new menu and the staff of six works hands-on from the beginning to the end of each project with each client. Clients range from tech companies to foundations and event planning can take anywhere from four days to six months to a year, depending on the event.“
My team is just really great,” she said. “I’m so proud of them. They’re thoughtful they’re businesslike, they’re professional, they’re fun.”
The catering industry has changed since she started the company in 1983.
“In those days, nobody did events,” she said. “You had some caterers, but things weren’t in demand like in the technology world today.”
In the ’90s, she worked at the Bellagio in Las Vegas; the era when this industry was really growing, she said. Now, the best part about the business is that it’s fun and there’s a lot of strategic planning involved, she said.
“Every time we go out, there’s a new person we have to touch,” Fakkema said. “I still love it 31 years later.”
In addition to loving the company’s work, Fakkema said she loves working on the Peninsula.
“It’s a network of people you get to know,” said Fakkema, who lives in Menlo Park. “It’s sort of tight-knit.”
Although she said the company has been really lucky there haven’t been any major incidents over the years during her events, there have been a fair share of funny stories. During one estate wedding on the Peninsula, a local neighborhood dog jumped into a large reflecting pool and chased down the bride as she was coming down the aisle. At another picnic event with a petting zoo, animals got loose.
“Often those animals just live to get out,” she said. “So, I look across to the garden and two goats are bounding across the garden.”
Although Events, Etc... primarily caters and designs for events in the Bay Area, it does do events outside of the area. Fakkema has planned and executed events in Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Boston, San Diego and elsewhere.
For more on the company, go to eventsetc.com or call 925-1110.
firstname.lastname@example.org (650) 344-5200 ext. 105