Owner and founder, Debbie Howe, trained under Executive Chef John LaBee and Chef Tom Roosevelt before becoming the kitchen manager for Olive Garden. While pregnant with her third and last child, she started Affordable Catering out of her house. That was in the summer of 1995.
Most of her career involved operating restaurants for silent owners. She didn't have any catering experience. Consequently, she built the business on how she wanted to be treated as a customer.
Back then, no one published their prices up front. She felt like if they didn't want you to see the price, that it must be too high. From the start, she gave quotes in writing and put all the prices on all her menus. No one else did that in the Tampa area. Soon after, some caterers followed suit. Things were going great and within a year, she doubled her business. Year after year the business kept doubling in size. She was too big to stay at the commercial kitchen in her house so she rented a 1,400 s.f. Building at 4435 Gunn Hwy. Her clientele grew and she would get two weddings out of one wedding just from referrals.
She hired her daughter Tera to work the office. Tera was young and eager and was soaking up the knowledge. In 2002, she hired Chef Anja Biscevic and in 2003, her husband, Ricky joined the team.
The next very important employee was an old friend named Bobby Baughman. Bobby was one of the best servers we had ever seen. He made brides feel completely at ease. He pampered the client so they could enjoy their party. Bobby trained all of our servers in his footsteps. Tragically. we lost Bobby to a car accident in 2008. He will forever be missed in the Affordable Catering family. Bobby brought a lot of great talent to our business. Michelle Press and Adam Menchen are two of our best servers and each has been with us for over 10 years. Both Michelle and Adam have professional jobs and work with us on the weekends.