“Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals”, a weekly interview series with professionals from the MICE industry in New York.
These are uncertain times for our industry – yet we believe that now is the moment to bring our industry closer together by strengthening our ties and relationships on a more human level. It is for this reason that Shackman Associates is undertaking a series of interviews with other New York hospitality professionals to learn how they are managing during this time.
In today’s episode; New York Hospitality Professionals Karen Shackman, President and CEO of Shackman Associates talks to Thomas Preti, Co-founder of Thomas Preti Events to Savor
Karen: Hello Thomas, Thank you for your time. You are our first interview with a partner from the catering industry and I know that many of our readers are interested in what you have to say. As a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of American, you have been a dominant force in the New York City culinary scene for over 25 years, overseeing the growth and development of your company - and I believe I have known you for much of that time. Please introduce yourself and give us a little background on your business.
Thomas: Thank you Karen. I’m Thomas Preti, Co-Founder of Thomas Preti Events to Savor. My partner Michael and I have been in business for 33 years here in the NYC market. We are first cousins and always knew that we would one day be in business together. Michael has an incredible mind for business and an eye for detail. On the other hand, I have the fun job. I’m a classically trained chef and love to create new and exciting concepts for our client’s events. We have built a company with a solid reputation for consistently delivering creative quality driven events and nurturing long term relationships.
Karen: What is your current situation? Are you still working remotely? And if so, how are you all managing your time?
Thomas: We have been working since the lockdown began. It is very important for Michael and me to “keep the band together” as they say. Our employees are part of the TPC family.
The front office, sales and production teams have been working from home since March 13th. We’ve looked at this down time as an opportunity to get those unfinished projects done that we all say “if only we could stop the clock and finish these projects”. Well now is the time.
Karen: How do you maintain the connection with your team members, both front and back of the house?
Thomas: We have standing calls with each individual department throughout the week and a companywide Zoom with all weekly.
As far as our culinary team is concerned we have been able to keep our core full time employees working as well as a handful of part timers due to being fortunate enough to have gotten an opportunity to feed military, hospital staff and recovering patients at NY Presbyterian Hospital. We were packaging approximately 900 meals every day for six weeks. This came to an end about one month ago. That’s a good sign and due mostly in part of all New Yorkers following LOCAL government guidelines. Very proud how New Yorkers have handled this crisis!
Karen: Now that we are in Phase 3 of the reopening, are you making any adjustments to your business model moving forward?
Thomas: Yes, while this was going on we were working behind the scenes on our new revenue stream that is designed to fill the need for in-office dining, corporate meetings, social events and not-for-profit galas post lockdown. “Preti, Set, GO!” officially rolled out this month. The highlight of this program is a weekly menu cycle of curated, seasonal three course set meals that are an extension of our current culinary offerings uniquely packaged and totally brandable. Please visit our website www.thomaspreti.com and click on “Preti, Set, GO!” There is a lot of interest and a fair amount of bookings already. Mostly social events at this point but our corporate clients are showing interest for when they return to the office. We are also sending proposals for NFP fall virtual galas.
Karen: Congratulations on the new division. That a very good “pivot” under the circumstances, and an innovative proactive position right now. Do you see any signs of live events coming back that will require full service catering?