We had the good fortune of connecting with John + Stacy LaBrake and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John + Stacy, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Our team! Our owners, John & Stacy LaBrake, are really committed to running the company as a family business, and creating jobs within our community. We have a lot of family and extended family working, and if you’re not family, you feel like it within the first week of joining us. We even have staff members who have been with the company for over 20 years, and now their children have joined the team. Catering is hard work, but everyone has their own fabulous talents, and together it all falls into place creating amazing events for our clients. In catering, there is so much behind the scenes work that goes into the planning and execution of a successful event. We have team members who are good with seeing the big picture and team members who are good with the details. Foodies, designers, muscles, and spreadsheet masters–it takes so many different skill types to come together on each event, and it never gets boring because as soon as we’ve executed one memorable event experience, there’s always a new event to work on. Food is always at the forefront, but so much of our work is logistics. Our team works so hard on mastering each event’s specific details to make sure that every last detail is executed, and every event is different. Whether it’s a small dinner party at home or a big beach event with hundreds or thousands of people–there is a lot of planning to make sure all the moving parts and all the right people are in place.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The key to our success at Love at First Bite is that we all love what we do. And we love who we get to do it with. We’ve been in business since 1982, and our culinary team makes some really delicious food, but food & decor trends are perpetually changing, so we’re always on our toes. We use our experience and creativity to stay on top of it all, but it’s always anchored by focusing on a few things that will never change at Love At First Bite– good food at affordable prices, beautiful creative displays, and a friendly and attentive team. Our company’s slogan is “Catering is work of heart” and it really is, our heart goes into every event and every extra detail. We do everything we can to make catering & planning an event easy, attainable, and affordable for everyone, and in return, we get to help create memories for some of the most important days in people’s lives. Throwing parties and feeding people, and getting to make new friends along the way. Our team has tackled some really difficult events together, and of course in the service industry you can run into some difficult situations once in a while, but at the end of the day, we always find great solutions and grow together. Even though it’s hard work, both physically and mentally, it’s so rewarding being a part of our client’s milestones throughout the years.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We are so blessed to be in such a beautiful city. Huntington Beach has been voted one of the best beaches in the world and there are so many amazing places to visit, you really can’t go wrong. Any friends who come to visit always need a bike-ride to the pier and walk around Pacific City and the downtown shops. Then definitely need a trip to our local family-owned brewery, Four Sons, for some of the most flavorful hand-crafted beers you’ll ever taste. Surf City Still Works has the smoothest, high quality locally made spirits you can find and an awesome tasting room. And we highly recommend a boat tour of the Huntington Harbour by Prince Charters’ Captain Doug & his wife, Donna. Finish off the day with a bonfire night with our Love at First Bite Surf City Shrimp Boil and some of our S’mores with soft marshmallows made from scratch.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Huntington Beach Community has been so supportive throughout the years, and even more so now, during these difficult times. With Covid-19, gathering at events was one of the first pleasures in life to get shut-down and most of our events were canceled almost overnight. Looking at an empty calendar was the biggest moment of uncertainty our company has ever faced. We quickly realized our community was facing shortages on grocery items, and necessities that we still had access to through our network of vendors. We could still purchase items you couldn’t get in the grocery store, so we started offering the option to order hard-to-get items like eggs, milk, toilet paper, hand sanitizer to our staff and their friends and family and it kind of took off from there. We started our own contactless curbside market including high-quality items from all of our “friendors” and ready-to-heat meals made from scratch in our kitchen. At the same time, a local couple, Shawn & Jenny Kortes, started a Facebook Group called HB Quarantine Cuisine so that the community could come together and help support local small businesses that were still open. It grew to thousands of local members and they have been quite a force in helping all the Huntington Beach businesses stay afloat. We have had such an outpouring of support from these neighbors and community members and it really has helped us navigate these uncertain times and keep the lights on. Next thing you know, over 150 local families were ordering groceries from us every week. We also started offering hot dinners with free local delivery and we are now delivering hundreds of these meals a week. Our industry has been hit hard, but we’re all doing what we can to adapt and help. We’re so grateful to be able to keep our kitchen cooking and offer a safe, contactless, and affordable service to our community during these times.
Other: Online Ordering for Weeknight Dinners Monday-Friday: https://www.lafbcatering.com/weeknight-dinner-menu