Catering Place named Suffolk’s top small business

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Catering Place was recently awarded 2018 Small Business of the Year for Suffolk from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

“I was more excited than I thought I would be,” said chef and owner Corey Duncan. “I don’t do this business to win, but it is nice when they come. I think a lot of it is because of our faster response time.”

The faster response times are due to Corey’s wife, Jnel Duncan, joining the team after almost 10 years after opening The Catering Place.

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“I’ve always worked behind the scenes, and we always talked about probably doing it together,” Jnel said. “I probably should have come sooner.”

The Catering Place owner and chef Corey Duncan makes a large batch of cocktail sauce for an upcoming event this weekend.

Now with his wife working as Catering Sales, response time to inquiries has been cut down from multiple days to just a few hours. Along with handling inquiries, Jnel also actively looks for business for The Catering Place.

“The best part of having both of us working here is the flexibility,” Corey said. “If one of us wants to have a lazy morning and no one is busy, then that can happen. We can also get out of work earlier some days, because we are only here as much as we need to be.”

The husband-and-wife duo handle almost any event that requires food for a large number of people. They also tout themselves as a “one-stop shop,” according to Jnel.

They provide the food, but they can also assist in getting vendors needed for events. They have connections with rental companies and DJs, and they assist in coordinating vendors for the events as well.

While the company is based in Suffolk and does much of its work here, The Catering Place has brought its services as far south as Hatteras and as far north as Richmond. Their typical service area is from Franklin to Virginia Beach.

While also handling a business full-time, Jnel and Corey also have three children — Caydence, 2, Camdyn, 7, and Conner, 12.

“What’s great is that we can bring them to work with us,” Jnel said. “Our daughter Camdyn always wants to work. When they do work, we actually pay them.”

Their older son, Conner, occasionally comes to hang out, and has been known to get into sword fights with other staff members in the back.

“That’s the feel of the business,” Corey said. “We have fun in our downtime, but without having to say anything, they know when to get to work.”

Not only does the family enjoy running their business but also they enjoy the staff they have accumulated over the last couple of years.

“Our staff has made a big emphasis on the quality of the events that we do, because we don’t take any job that comes our way anymore,” Corey said. “The byproduct of that is that we have maintained a better staff quality.”

The awards will be presented at a luncheon event May 4 at the Chesapeake Conference Center. The Catering Place will compete against the other four city winners:

  • Chesapeake — MiCar Collision Center
  • Norfolk — O’Connor Brewing Co.
  • Portsmouth — SimIS Inc.
  • Virginia Beach — iFly Virginia Beach

In addition, Suffolk Executive Offices has been named as one of the Top to Watch. Votes from the public are accepted in this category; to vote, visit hamptonroadschamber.com.