When we started The Bradford, we said to heck with exclusivity. We will make a "preferred" list, but not exclusive - it's not our style, it seems overkill, the list went on and on as we chatted in the car (as all important decisions get made in the car).
We have been open for a year. A year! We have had numerous caterers here, some great, some terrible. The one thing we miscalculated in our objections in exclusivity is how little some people care about your space. We always give them a catering agreement they have to sign in order to cater here. We go over it, the expectations, and make sure there are no questions. Somehow, this does not matter. In one year we have had:
1. A caterer just peace out with out cleaning anything. They literally just left.
2. A catering staff who decided it was time to not listen to their manager and stage a coup and literally sit on their tails and do nothing. NOTHING.
3. A caterer who was 2 hours late and literally was not ready when guests arrived to the reception.
4. To refinish the kitchen floors twice. 2 times people.
5. Bartenders who literally smoke the entire time - as they are serving guests!
6. Caterers who allow clients provide their own apps, but then refuse to clean up anything in the cocktail hour that the apps touched or trash it created.
7. Caterers who do not do the items listed in the agreement and then get belligerent that they did not sign that agreement - as it is sitting right there with their signature.
8. Caterers who have run out of food.
9. And caterers who staff with unprofessional servers - they act unprofessional, look messy, and are rude to guests.
On the flip side, we have had caterers who are every thing these people are not. They are professional, happy, courteous, smile, and do a great job - these are the people we want!
Catering is not just about food. The food is important don't get me wrong. However, service is just as important. If you are being served amazing food, but they are rude, or your table looks like a big trash pile, then what you remember is that the staff wasn't nice or you had to clear your own table, and the food suddenly doesn't taste that good.
For us at The Bradford, we can't just watch a wedding fall a part. All those instances above, it was us who had to go in and fix whatever situation was going on. (Total side note that all these weddings had VERY unexperienced wedding planners/coordinators or they were day of coordinators who walked into the disaster unknowingly). This is not the experience we want our brides to have! In almost every case, the client or their family had to deal with the caterer on some capacity on the day. It created stressful situations that were unnecessary.
So what does this mean? We have decided to go exclusive. It is a decision that was hard, and long debated. There will be caterers on all price points, and with all different styles. This change only affects those that are sign a contract on October 1 or later. There will also be a kitchen buyout option for those that have specific dietary requirements or needs.
We are truly so excited for this change! I know our brides will rest easy knowing the caterer they choose here is experienced, professional, and has great food!
Thanks for all the support and we are so grateful that we get to serve you even better in the future.
~ Dana, Courtney, and Caroline