Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 29, 2002

Main Street Catering expanding business to local area

By Julie Yurek

Main Street Catering is expanding its services to Winsted and surrounding towns.

It has been in business for 15 years. Both owners have jobs outside of Main Street Catering.

Jim Thorne works Monday through Friday at St. Mary's Care Center as the food service director. He grew up in Delano and lives in New Germany.

His co-owner/partner is Jim Lund, who is the executive chef at Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove and lives in Montrose.

Thorne and Lund can make just about anything a customer wants, Thorne said.

"One customer had a dish while on vacation and liked it very much. The person was planning a party and asked us to call the restaurant where the dish was made to get the recipe. We did," Thorne said.

Thorne and Lund also watch the food channel to get ideas. "Our grilled vegetable platter was one idea from the show," Thorne said.

The business does not have a set menu. "Everything is custom fit for each customer," Thorne said.

For example, for a wedding, Thorne will ask what the couple's budget is and give some suggestions that fit in that price range, he said.

Costs can range anywhere from "$5 to $80 per plate," Thorne said. "It depends on what the customer is looking for."

Main Street Catering made the food for the Chamber of Commerce's banquet in January. Salmon and the grilled vegetable platter were some items on the menu.

With summer coming, hog roasts are popular, Thorne said. "We slaughter our own pigs. A 220-pound pig usually feeds about 100 people."

If a customer is looking to have a hog roast for 50 instead, Thorne will cut the hog in half, he said. If someone wants a hog roast for 25 people, "then we use chunks of pork instead of a half of a pig. I can't see using a piglet," he said with a chuckle.

Thorne and Lund also want to provide the freshest food possible, so everything is cooked on-site or in the facility, he said.

"We have trailers with ovens and equipment, so if the facility doesn't have a kitchen, we just bring the trailer and cook it in there," he said.

Main Street Catering has two trailers and 18 on-call staff, so conducting more than one event at a time is not a problem, Thorne said.

Over 80 percent of the staff are professional servers, he said. "The staff are there only to serve the food. They go straight to the event where we have professionally cleaned shirts for them. They do their job, clean up, and leave."

"Jim and I prepare the food before hand, and then we cook it on-site. If the event is very large, we will hire another cook and one of us will oversee to make sure everything runs smoothly," Thorne said.

"When we work an event, we make sure the customer can't even tell we were there," Thorne said.

It also does some "drop and goes," Thorne said. "We drop off the food, the warming equipment, and anything else they might need, and go on to another job."

"Drop and goes are very convenient for people. All the containers are disposable," Thorne said.

The business also provides a stocked bar and bartenders if a customer requests it. The business is in a partnership with one of the three state's mobile liquor licenses, Thorne said.

"Customers can request only the bartenders and not the liquor," Thorne said

One may have seen Main Street Catering at the Carver County Fair last year.

Thorne and Lund set a trailer up and sold chicken wings. Their booth was "Wings of the World," Thorne said. "We had five flavors."

"We sold over 14,000 chicken wings," he said. "Our kids helped out at the fair," he said.

Thorne and Lund hope to get into the McLeod County Fair and the Minnesota State Fair this year to sell the chicken wings.

Thorne and Lund got their start in the catering business when both worked as chefs at the Lafayette Country Club in Minnetonka.

A member asked them if they would cater a private party for him at his house one weekend evening. They agreed and the rest is history, Thorne said.

"We would like to see the business be self-sufficient in two years," Thorne said. That means the two would not have to work other jobs and could rely solely on the catering business for income, Thorne said.

"We want to get our equipment and trailers paid for first," he said.

Thorne and Lund are also planning on building a facility in St. Boni to house the trailers, equipment, and have a kitchen and refrigeration for food preparation, Thorne said.

To call for a booking, Thorne's mobile phone number is (612) 490-5040. Lund's mobile is (612) 490-5038.

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