ADAMS CENTER — Having grown up with parents in the restaurant business, siblings Michele M. Warner and Mathieu “Matt” D. Mitchell were introduced to the service industry at a young age. In 2014, the pair teamed up to cofound Embellished Catering & Events.
When they first started out, they both worked full-time jobs and decided they would get their New York State of Health Permit for off-site catering, thinking of doing it on the side as a part-time venture as their schedules permitted. Fast forward to 2022 and they’re booked every weekend into the fall and just recently closed on their own catering location.
The site at 18245 Minkler Road used to be home to RJ’s Catering, so when owner Randy Jerome decided to untie his apron strings and retire after more than 40 years of catering, the duo behind Embellished Catering jumped at the opportunity to buy the building from a trusted friend and catering mentor.
“Randy and Laura at RJ’s Catering took us under their wing when we first started out and gave us guidance and leadership,” Michele said. “When we decided that we were going to buy it, they were more than helpful. We did several walkthroughs, had lunch with Randy and he gave Matt a couple of tutorials on pieces of equipment and things to keep track of and stuff like that, so they’ve been super wonderful to us, not just through the buying process, but since we started.”
The space is 4,000 square feet including a state-of-the-art kitchen and drive through, equipment and storage space galore.
Embellished Catering and Events is a fully-insured catering company that offers full service, drop-offs, grazing tables and grazing boxes for any style event, including wedding receptions, baby and bridal showers, business lunches, retirement and birthday parties, and any sort of holiday party to name a few. They strive to create a culinary experience that’s memorable and surpasses client expectations. In 2019, Michele started selling her grazing boxes full of goodies for customers not wanting or not able to afford a full table spread.
“I like to specialize in charcuterie and things, so that’s going to be another nice thing about the location here,” she said. “We’ll have kind of a storefront, if you will, where people could come here and pick up boxes and things that we have available.”
Originally from Henderson, the siblings grew up in Jefferson County surrounded by family and friends and note that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the support they’ve received from them over the years.
“Every little event, every pickup, every graze box, it’s brought us to where we are now, there’s definitely some that stand out more than others, but they all really mean a lot,” Michele said.
When Embellished Catering started, a shared-use kitchen in the Barracks of Sackets Harbor was used for cooking for about a year, until Matt got a job at the Adams Country Club and they let him use their kitchen for catering, which he has used since. Matt has been cooking professionally for more than 20 years and is the current chef and manager at the Adams Country Club, but will be leaving after Mother’s Day to work at Embellished full time alongside his sister.
“Before we were kind of limited on the size of the party just because of cooler space and things like that; we were kind of maxed out around a couple hundred people,” he said. “Now with the facility here, we would just need to find people to staff the event.”
Starting from nothing, Michele and Matt paid for their permits out of their personal savings and had clients pay up front for their first parties so they had a way to pay for the food.
When the two first started out, business opportunities were a bit sporadic, with one or two small events a month. Eventually, word of mouth referrals trickled in and business took off.
According to Michele, as the business continues to grow and expand, more employees will be brought on to fulfill more parties. So far, Michele and Matt have done a majority of the work, bringing in some help here and there for busier seasons like the summer.
With Matt handling the cooking, Michele focuses on business meetings, email correspondence, planning and creative visions. She said the two have been fortunate that they’ve stayed close through their lives, being just one year apart, and work well together.
“I feel like for the most part, we complement each other very well,” she said. “I think that my creativity and his culinary experience kind of brings it together and we have pretty good communication.”
In the beginning of the business, their dad Martin T. Mitchell was still around and used to help Michele while Matt was working. When he died suddenly, Michele questioned her career path and for awhile didn’t want to do it anymore, but she pushed through. The siblings had previously lost their mother Terri L. Mitchell as well. It’s been an emotional journey for the siblings, and buying their catering building has been the biggest business move they’ve made yet. Along the way, they’ve had their share of hardships, hurdles and loss, but they weathered the storms and proved to themselves and others they have what it takes to make it.
Michele and Matt’s parents used to own and operate the Lookout Tower Restaurant in Henderson Harbor, where Matt currently lives. A long-term goal of Michele and Matt is to eventually have a sit-down space, maybe even a gift shop in that space, to bring it back to its former glory and honor their parents.
Having closed on the Adams Center space on April 18, the siblings said it’s still surreal to own their own place.
“It’s very emotional just because we started from nothing,” Michele said. “When you look back at the progression of where we started until now, I’m filled with an immense amount of pride and just gratefulness for the people that have supported us.”
“I don’t think it’s really set in yet because I’m still working full time for my other job, but I think that once I get in here it’s going to set in that we’ve actually got our own place that we’ve worked hard for,” Matt added.
Though they now have a much larger space all their own, Michele and Matt are determined to not sacrifice any quality of food or service. One they get a bit more settled and take care of some smaller things like painting and organizing, they hope to have an open house/grand opening-type of event to welcome in the community.
The two own a catering van used for deliveries that they bought last year, and when they purchased the Adams Center location, it came with a 24-foot full-service catering kitchen trailer parked out back, which will expand what they’re able to do on site for events.
“I think from where we started to where we’re at, it’s just a really big accomplishment for both of us,” Matt said. “I’m proud of where we’re at and kind of anxious to see where we go and hope we can still keep moving forward.”