By LOIS KINDLE
Joe Gregory has a simple business plan for his new company, To The Table Catering. Honor God, bring families together and help people.
Originally from New York, the 37-year-old chef moved to Florida in 2010 after many grueling years in the restaurant business.
“Its long hours and fast pace were affecting my health and happiness,” he said.
Gregory left the business for three years but couldn’t stay gone.
“I missed food,” he said. “Food is what I do.”
So he and his wife Gwendy opened The Clean, a catering business making prepared meals for the “fitness crowd” in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area. It really took off, but as small business owners, they had no insurance and were expecting their first child.
The owner of a national meal-prep company based in Tampa offered to buy out The Clean and make him executive chef.
“That’s what brought us to Tampa,” Gregory said. “We did very well, but I was working 80 to 90 hours a week again. And my wife was expecting our second child.”
He said he received a message he couldn’t ignore.
“It was the clearest God ever spoke to me,” he recalled. “I was told there was no way I could keep that job and keep my priorities in order, so I resigned and To The Table Catering was born.”
Gregory, a Riverview resident, founded the company April 1 and currently works from a commissary kitchen he rents in Tampa. But that’s about to change.
He recently began selling freshly prepared, ready-to-heat foods for families and health-conscious individuals at the Big Red Barn, 10070 Fern Hill Drive, Riverview. Its owners, Chris Phillips and Danny Letsinger, collaborated with Gregory to build a kitchen on site, which they’re looking to be fully operational Oct. 1.
“At that point, we’ll serve fresh foods all day long, catering especially to the lunch crowd,” Gregory said. “And we will continue to prepare our refrigerated fresh foods to go.
“In today’s fast-paced society, people sacrifice quality for convenience,” he continued. “I’m here to change that.”
It’s all part of the plan — actually his mission — to honor God, bring families together and help people.
“My goal is to bring families back to the table,” Gregory said. “It’s a place for communion, where everything happens.”
And as the old saying goes, he’s “putting his money where his mouth is.”
“I made a promise to myself that I would be home to have at least one meal every day with my family,” he said.
The chef, a member of SeaGlass Church in Apollo Beach and part of its leadership group, also believes in giving back. Currently, he prepares enough food daily to give 10 percent to local folks in need
To The Table Catering offers healthy and well-balanced “comfort food-inspired” meals, all freshly made daily. Ingredients include organic produce, whenever possible; all-natural proteins (no antibiotics or hormones); and wild seafood. Single-serving meals include dishes like Salmon with Rice Noodles, Chicken Porchetta, Grilled Honey Sriracha Pork Tenderloin, Flank Steak with Sautéed Veggies and Salt & Pepper Wild Gulf Shrimp. The menu changes weekly.
The cost is $9.99 each.
Additionally, single-serving and additional portion-sized meals can be ordered online at www.tothetable.catering. The cost is $10 to $45, depending on the number of servings.
Meal customization is also available online, and Gregory offers $5 deliveries on Sundays and Wednesdays. Once he relocates to his Riverview kitchen at the Big Red Barn, folks can place an order by noon and pick it up on their way home.
For more information, visit @to the table catering on Facebook, email email@example.com or call 877-888-1031.