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.

affordable catering food serving

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.

Before you knew it, we outgrew our location and moved down the street to a much larger space at 4125 Gunn Hwy. We now had 2,400 s.f. of office and 3,000 s.f. of warehouse. Tera became the General Manager and Ricky took care of all the accounting, advertising and computer duties. The business was speeding ahead and growing from the referrals. Leslie Faulhaber joined us and took over as Office Manager in 2007. Leslie and her team get weekly Thank You Letters from happy brides for their ability to make the bride comfortable while planning a wonderfully successful wedding.

Within 4 years, we outgrew our location again and this time purchased 2 buildings totaling 12,000 s.f. in 2009. The buildings were just across the street at 4108 Gunn Hwy. and worked out perfectly. We now own 7,000 s.f. of office and kitchen space and 5,000 s.f. of warehouse. The location gives us room to hold large tastings on a regular basis.

Our latest and one of the best additions to our staff is Chef Ruel Teope. His professionalism and artistic culinary skills are an invaluable asset for our team.

Affordable Catering Staff

We now have 20 full time employees and over 35 servers. Affordable Catering averages over 800 events per year, from 25 person company luncheons to 600 person weddings, and we are still growing every year. In 2013 we won the coveted Best of Weddings awarded by the #1 wedding website, The Knot. In 2011, 2012 and now in 2013 we won the Wedding Wire Bride's Choice Award, given to the Top 5% of Wedding Professionals nationwide. In 2010 and 2011 we also won the Eventective Planner's Choice Award for the most popular caterer. This award is only given to 20 caterers in the country and goes to the company with the most positive comments posted online from customers. We are very proud of what we've built in the last 20 years. We would like to thank the community for their continued support.

From the Affordable Catering family