Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catering Up, Retail Sales Down; Parties around the City Are Heating Up, Keeping Area Caterers in High Demand

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catering Up, Retail Sales Down; Parties around the City Are Heating Up, Keeping Area Caterers in High Demand

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON TRINIDAD, The Times-Union

The Orange Park kitchen at Anthony's Gourmet Catering didn't seem out of sorts Tuesday afternoon.

But, by 1 p.m., chefs Barbara Howard and Eric Bick were already cooking their fifth party of the day.

Howard said that's more than usual for February, but Bick said it's no more than a busy holiday.

"This is very light compared to what we're used to," Bick said. "Try coming in sometime from September to December when we're cooking eight to 10 menus a day."

"But we're having fun because the Super Bowl is in town," Howard said.

Shawn Stoddard, founder of the family-owned catering business, said Anthony's is making about twice what it would normally make this time of year because of Super Bowl-related events. The company made $1 million in 2003, according to The Business Journal's 2005 Book of Lists.

One of the largest off-premise caterers in the Jacksonville area, Anthony's is providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for National Football League workers at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center everyday through Sunday. They also are working several high-brow banquets and liquor bars each night this weekend, many of which are occurring at the same time.

Caterers like Stoddard are providing food and drink for countless game-related festivities this week and the thousands of people who will attend them.

It's a challenge, but by no means overwhelming, Stoddard said.

"It's incredibly busy . . . but we're used to it," Stoddard said. "It's basically another busy Christmas holiday season and extended November and December into January and February."

Catering by Rosi, which has a kitchen in San Marco, is cooperating with other caterers on a major game-day event, but a company official said the NFL wouldn't allow him to disclose any details.

"We've been working on it for quite a while, but we're just a small part of the big event," said George Arnould, operations manager for Catering by Rosi. …

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