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Joanna’s is ‘catering’ to customers needs

For Joann and Tony Holzer, the appreciation for tasty, homemade food combined with the ability to prepare, present and cater for more than 500 people, has turned a hobby into a business.

Joann, who was a former librarian at Sacred Heart Cathedral School, said she began cooking at a young age. “I grew up in a large family and my mother put me in charge of salads and desserts for weekend dinners, and I enjoyed it,” she said. “That’s pretty much how I got my start in cooking.”

Joann said she would prepare recipes and keep notes regarding positive or negative comments from family members. This interest in cooking stayed with her, and eventually led her to accept some small jobs on a part-time basis while continuing to work in the library.

“My husband and I started serving some of the groups at church and we enjoyed it,” Joann said. “After we realized that we might be able to make a little money catering, we thought we’d give it a try.”

Joann decided to quit her job and begin catering on a full-time basis when her daughter graduated from the eighth grade.

“We both graduated together,” she said. “My husband kept his job for a couple of years though. I think he wanted to make sure that things would work out.”

Things did work out, and Catering by Joanna took flight in January 1993. Tony soon left his accounting job to work with his wife.

The business is located in the Holzer’s home in Village Green sub-division. Wanting to make the business a family venture, Joann, as president, enlisted the assistance of their two children, Bart and Susan, as vice president and secretary respectively.

“My husband, Tony is an accountant by trade so his job as treasurer came naturally,” Joann said.

The Holzer children have since moved from the home and are not as actively involved in the business. “My daughter will help me make cookies when I get busy though,” Joann said.

“Tony does all of the shopping for me,” she added. “He goes from store to store and he doesn’t come home until he gets everything on my list.”

Joann said that Tony cooks at home for the family, but she does all of the cooking and baking for the business.

“Tony and I work very well as a team,” she said. “And, we enjoy the time together.”

Joann arrived at the name of the business primarily because of her mother, Anna, who inspired her to cook.

“My mother’s name combined with my name forms Joanna,” she said. “It works well too because when I get a phone call and the person asks for Joanna, I know it is a business call.”

Joann said she is able to serve from five to 500 people although she has a minimum set price for small parties.

“We do everything from start to finish,” she said. “We prepare everything, bring it to the location, set-up, serve and clean up,” Joann said. “We bring table linens, napkins, plates, cups, silverware, everything,” she said.

She said that a large part of the business is catering luncheons for pharmaceutical sales representatives.

“I have traveled to Chattanooga, Kingsport, Cookeville and Johnson City for some of the sales-rep luncheons, but most of my jobs are local,” she said.

Joann also caters weddings, anniversary parties and graduations as well as special orders for cookies and special desserts.

Noting that December and May are her busiest months, Joann said she may put in three to 17 hours of work in a day, six days a week.

She said the most requested item on the menu is her seven-layer salad, which is a lettuce, mayonnaise, bacon and pea combination. “I have been making this salad for years and people still ask for it,” she said.

The Holzers use two vans and a truck to transport the food and catering equipment. They have converted their family room into a commercial style kitchen housing numerous ovens, sinks and appliances to allow for the maximum use of space.

They have numerous coolers for hot and cold transport and a system for placement of the items in the coolers.

“You have to be very organized to be in this business, Joann said. “Tony and I have everything down to a science.”

Joann said while she and Tony thoroughly enjoy their catering business they would like to find a little more time for playing bridge (Joann) and fishing (Tony).

“We may get a little more selective in the choice of jobs that we take and continue what we do on a more casual basis and maybe cut back to three days a week,” she said.

“Well, that’s what Tony would like me to do anyway.”


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