It’s food to nourish the body and soul
She can hardly believe it, but 20 years ago Karen Leverenz said a friend asked her to cater a class reunion. “I told her I couldn’t do that. And she said, ‘Yes you can’.”
But Karen did it, and with that first meal, a business was born—Karen’s Catering
From the start, Karen said, she’s had the support of her family and friends. And over the years, she’s built her business to be the go-to caterer for her Bowling Green community.
What she likes best is feeding people. She grew up in a big family with everyone sitting around the supper table, and that’s the kind of atmosphere and food she brings to her customers—tasty, hearty food—and plenty of it.
She’s pretty much seen it all in those 20 years. Karen said she’s catered everywhere from the back of her car to some pretty unique places.
“I catered a huge wedding in a barn,” she said. It wasn’t an event center built to look like a barn, she explained. “It. Was. A. Barn.” Even so, she said it turned out to be a beautiful wedding.
“I think I’ve hit every venue possible,” she noted. And she truly enjoys meeting all the people through her businesses.
What makes her business work is having good employees who are flexible with the time they can give for events. The largest catering job she’s done was about 550 people.
“That was back when the prisons would have big Christmas parties,” she said.
Cooking for large groups of people came naturally to Karen. She has six brothers and did a lot of cooking for them when she was growing up.
What also makes the business work is that clients don’t have to worry about the meal once they’ve made their menu selection. When there’s so much going on in planning an event, she noted, being able to tell the customer, “I’ve got this,” makes a huge difference. For one wedding, Karen talked with the mother and daughter for more than two hours.
“They became really good friends,” she said. “They said it was because I was so calming and easy to talk with,” Karen added. “I tell them not to worry. Just let me do the meal part.”
The relief she sees in them makes all the difference because they know she has it all under control.
In addition to her catering business, Karen also has a sewing and alteration business.
She likes to think of herself as an old-fashioned kind of girl—because of all her cooking and sewing.
“I think it’s becoming a lost art,” she added.
Before getting into catering, Karen said, she worked for Dr. Stephen Chismarich for about 30 years.
I retired from there,” she said.
“It was a time in my life when I just wanted to branch out,” she said about when she left Chismarich’s office. From there, she started working part time at the Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green and the one in Louisiana.
When people ask her how she has time to do all the things she does, Karen answers that she does not sit still much.
Karen has some steady customers, such as the Rotary Clubs in Bowling Green and Louisiana. But her busy times of the year are spring and fall, as well as Christmastime.
And if you think that’s a lot for one person, Karen also has a freezer meal business. For this business, she puts out a monthly menu and takes orders from her customers.
“I meet them at the park, and they pick up the orders,” she explained. This business has become quite popular, Karen added, because people just don’t like to—or don’t have time to—cook. This type of meal is most popular with singles or couples.
She does the meals in 13 x 9 pans, which she can split into two meals.
“That way they can get two to three meals out of each pan,” she said.
And Karen knows the biggest reason her catering business has done so well is because of her customers.
“I sincerely appreciate all my clients over the past years,” she said. “I’m very thankful for their business as well as their friendship.”
Almost all of her family has helped her over the years, including her nieces and nephews. She also wanted to thank her biggest supporters—her daughters and grandchildren—Jill and Graham Marks, with their children, Naomi and Lydia; and Andy and Glenn Reynolds and their sons, Sam, Jacob and Matthew.
To reach Karen, call her at 573-470-4540 or by email at email@example.com.