It’s a family business celebrating 69 years this month. They work while we play and make special occasions delicious, too.
Heflin catering actually began in 1947 when Jennings Heflin learned that a restaurant on his delivery route was for sale. He lived in Norwood near Cincinnati and was a truck driver for Chevrolet. He often passed by the Plain City airport and when he learned the restaurant there was for sale, he bought it for his sons, Faunty and Jay, to operate.
The young men had both been in the military. While in the Marine Corps, Jay helped serve 3,600 meals, three times a day aboard ship. So, he and Faunty cut down on the quantities of ingredients from that and took over the restaurant.
One day a cute young woman from Chuckery came in with her friends and headed toward the jukebox. Jay saw this as an opportunity to meet her, so he moved over quickly and put the coin in the machine for her to select her song. The young lady named Pat had just graduated from high school and Jay soon asked her out. In fact, he did that three times and she kept turning him down! It seems she was engaged to another guy.
But something changed so when Jay gave it one more try, she accepted. They married in 1950 and eventually had five children, living in the Plain City area.
In early 1950, Jay took over operation of the food service at O. M. Scott and Sons and also ventured into the catering business, a good day for all those who enjoyed his food served in a first-class way. His wife, Pat, became the baker using recipes from her mother. Today, her daughter, Teresa (Russell), carries on her work.
Jay and Pat’s son, Roy, now runs the business. He was trained by mom and dad plus attended the culinary program at Columbus State Community College. The business has flourished. According to Roy, he can see an upturn in the economy, his business being one of those hit hardest in the recession several years ago.
He worked for many years with his parents, both of whom are deceased. He recalls that there have been incidents! One Saturday there were three weddings booked (he says he will never do that again). His mother baked three cakes, two of which were for afternoon events and happened to be exactly the same. Pat had set up the first cake at the site of the outdoor reception. As she turned her back on it, the whole thing toppled over – disaster! Immediately she had the second identical cake delivered to the event to replace the first one.
She moved the remaining cake to the other afternoon event. Now there was no cake for the evening wedding – egad! As quickly as possible she and Jay hurried back to the kitchen to bake a replacement cake for the evening wedding. It arrived very nearly on time. What an end to a stressful day.
Outdoor events have provided challenges. One time a tent nearly blew away, and during one rain soaked reception, Roy’s grill kept going out while cooking as he stood in mud up to his ankles. It was so intensely hot at another reception around a backyard swimming pool, all the guests, members of the wedding party and eventually the caterers ended up in the pool for relief from the heat.
Then there was the accident. Roy was headed to a giant outdoor reception with everything loaded in his catering truck. He came to an intersection and a car pulled out in front of him and he smashed into it in a T-bone fashion. While not his fault, it was a terrible incident, plus all the food in the back was ruined from the collision. There were no cell phones in those times and, oh yes, it was only 10 degrees outside. The Highway Patrol came on the scene and called back to his parents to tell them everything that happened. Jay and Pat immediately re-cooked all the food, delivering it only one and a half hours late. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the accident.
Today they serve 20 to 30 locations a month and while doing so, enjoy hearing languages spoken from all around the world in the six surrounding counties that they serve. It’s been a good business for the Heflin family and allows Roy to enjoy snowmobiling in the winter, while Teresa and her family spend time in Naples, Florida.
Plans for the future include a possible purchase of an event center where they could base their catering business. They plan to take this family enterprise to at least 75 total years. Heflin Catering can be contacted at 1-888-613-1811.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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