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  1. Business

City picks Catering By The Family for the River Center

The City of Tampa recently selected Catering By The Family as a preferred caterer for the River Center at the new Julian B. Lane Riverfront park.

The 2,880-square-foot venue features floor-to-ceiling glass windows that open to a covered terrace and provides a scenic view of Tampa within the 25-acre park located downtown at 402 W Laurel St.

"We are honored to win this contract, and we take our partnership with the City of Tampa very seriously," said Catering By the Family owner Steven Gonzalez Sr. in a press release statement.

Catering By the Family is exactly what it sounds like— a family-owned and -operated catering business passed down from generation to generation.

Steven Gonzalez Sr. assumed ownership from his father, who started the business as a small sandwich shop back in 1976, where he began working at age 16, and now the kitchen is led by his son Chef Steven Gonzalez Jr. and Eric Champagne.

When the catering business took off in 1982, Gonzalez Sr. said he didn't have a lot of know­ledge about it, but fell in love with it doing different events such as graduations, weddings, holiday parties, birthdays, corporate lunches and more.

"I started small and from there one corporate client led to another, and another, and another, and the enjoyment of being able to go into these beautiful homes, and interacting with guests was a lot more fun than being in a sandwich shop or restaurant space."

Gonzalez Sr. says growing up half Italian and half Spanish, everything was based around food, so it's no shock his heritage is represented in the menu with Italian and Latin dishes. Now the small sandwich shop has evolved into a high-volume catering operation. It has expanded its offerings to French cuisine, charcuterie and Creole food.

These additions to the menu are inspired by his son's excursions around the world learning recipes from different cultures, including a trip to New Orleans where he worked under the renowned Brennan family.

The operation makes everything from scratch and caters to the customer's request for the type of food they want. Prices can vary from $15 to $75 for food and liquor either per plate, per person, per appetizer or hors d'oeuvres depending on the venue.

Catering By the Family is also the official caterer for up to 50 venues and events in the Tampa Bay area and Sarasota like Gasparilla, Plant City's The Rustic Barn, St. Petersburg's The Mahaffey Theater, and its newest additions: St. Petersburg's Duncan McClellan Gallery.

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