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A Family Affair

Family Catering Business Fat Freddy's Focuses on Putting Best Food Forward

Article by Gretchen Pahia

Photography by Christine Andert—Picture Lady Photography LLC

Originally published in North Peoria Lifestyle

Not everyone has the inclination, know-how, or time to cook a big feast for a party or event. That’s where caters come in. There are plenty of catering options in the Valley, but not all can tout being family-owned and operated.

Freddy and Eric Renstrom are the proud team behind Fat Freddy’s Catering. The father-and-son duo provides catering services for various events, such as corporate parties, holiday parties, weddings, and private parties. They are focused on delivering the best catered foods and service in the Valley.

According to Eric, Fast Freddy's focuses on what they know. “We focus strictly on catering good food for good people. It’s what we know. It’s who we are.”

A Catering Business is Born

For Freddy, restaurants and food service have always been in his blood. “I worked at a couple of restaurants before starting the catering business. It was really Eric’s idea to get this started, however, knowing that I was tired of all the long restaurant hours, but I always had a head for business.”

After attending Northern Arizona University and earning a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree, Eric worked for resorts in the Valley for several years. However, much like his dad, there was always something more he wanted to do.

“My theory was that I can make more money serving 400 people in one hour versus four people in one hour at a restaurant,” says Eric. “I suggested the catering business to my dad, and we’ve been moving with that plan ever since.”

Freddy was on board but wasn’t sure how long this venture would last. “I’m not a guy that’s done things long term. Before the catering business, the longest I’d had a business was about six years, and my family has watched me go through many different types of businesses,” says Freddy. “I enjoy being self-employed. I don’t like putting up with other people’s crap, and it is the best way for me.”

Challenges to the Catering Business

One of the biggest challenges the team at Fat Freddy’s has faced over the years was surviving COVID.

“Of all the food businesses, catering was hit the worst,” shares Freddy. “When there were no more social gatherings, there were no more events. We lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business in one day.”

Eric added that it took some time to figure out what to do. “Thankfully, none of our clients asked for their deposits back, but we still had to look at how to move forward.”

The team brainstormed and focused on what they could do. They looked at the fact that people were home, so they created pre-packaged home meals. “Think fancy TV dinners made from scratch,” says Eric.

The offering took off, and people were thankful to continue enjoying Freddy’s great cooking. Fat Freddy’s Catering also offered Freddy’s Back Door Barbecue, so people could pick up trays of barbecued meats. Fat Freddy's uses a Southern Pride smoker with pecan wood to smoke brisket, pork, and chicken, making this a favorite offering during COVID and beyond. 

“None of these ideas got us rich, but it kept us afloat,” shares Freddy.

They also kept their staff busy and employed by renovating their kitchen, turning the employees into remodelers. This was a great way to keep people busy with cooking and kitchen updates. Even today, businesses appreciate Fat Freddy's pre-packaged meals because they are no-mess ways to feed employees. There's no buffet to set up, keeping this a popular option.  

The Future of Catering

Looking ahead, Eric says they are just concentrating on what they do best. “Catering is a tough business; it’s fast-paced and expensive, but we are committed to being the very best at what we do. We want to prove the value of what we provide, making it worthwhile to our customers.”

We rely on referrals. No social media. We are built on reputation.

We're only as good as our last event.

  • Photo courtesy Fat Freddy's Catering
  • Photo courtesy Fat Freddy's Catering