Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Caterers Hope Economy Doesn't Crash Holiday Parties

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Caterers Hope Economy Doesn't Crash Holiday Parties

Article excerpt

The economy is becoming the Scrooge of the holiday season.

It's attempting to crash the catering industry's ultimate payoff: the corporate holiday party.

"They usually book in October and right now it's been very slow," said Tom Phillips, owner of Bella Italian Eatery and Executive Catering. "A lot of our past clients have not booked or scaled way back."

About 81 percent of businesses will conduct some type of holiday celebration this year, which is the lowest in 20 years, according to a survey by Battalia Winston Amrop, a New York-based executive search firm.

About 37 percent of companies say their parties have been affected by the economy, either by canceling or scaling back.

"Over the past 20 years, the number of holiday parties has always mirrored the health of the economy," said Battalia Winston, chief executive of the firm conducting the survey. "This year the holiday mood is somber as concerns about the economy continue to impact companies and their employees."

Some Oklahoma catering companies are in line with the study, while others said they haven't received much drop-off in holiday parties.

Aunt Pittypat's Catering in Oklahoma City receives about 20 percent of its business from holiday parties. Maggie Howell said they are relieved that their clients are spending the same on holiday parties as in years past. Several of the smaller businesses have scaled back a bit, she said. But the larger corporations are still throwing parties of the same size.

"There is a lot of optimism, especially in business to put up a good show for clients," said Howell, owner of Aunt Pittypat's Catering. "They want to present that they are still strong in this economy and show their business is fine."

Though food prices skyrocketed this year, Howell said the catering company strived to keep its prices low. …

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