Have You Met?

Tradition!  It’s what gives many families purpose and meaning and can also bind communities together.  The Lambatos Family and their company, Footers Catering, has had a long standing tradition of providing nothing but the best in food and catering services in Colorado. Footers Catering – started in 1981 by Jimmy Lambatos – is now run by Jimmy’s son, Anthony Lambatos. 

Footers, one of the Denver area’s premier caterers, originally spun out of the popular Capitol Hill 70’s restaurant Footers.  Footers Restaurant was also considered Denver’s first wine bar with an extensive wine list.  Footers Catering, with its commitment to quality and first-rate service, uses the freshest foods usually cooked and prepared on-site and specializes in creating an unforgettable festive atmosphere for any event.  There is great cohesion and energy among the staff; and they are all passionate about building the business and keeping that "family feel” at the company.  Anthony adds:  “I like to empower my staff to make decisions, and I love for our coordinators to go out there and shine!”   

The Lambatos Family is also carrying on that same tradition of superb food and service at the newly re-opened historic downtown Denver Baur’s Ristorante on Curtis Street (which Jimmy Lambatos is running after being away from the restaurants business for 20 years), and also at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club near D.I.A. – which is run by Anthony’s mom, Ronda Lambatos.  Jimmy and Anthony Lambatos are often asked to teach a class they call the "Catering Trifecta." In the class, they discuss how to manage three unique catering operations: off-premise catering, operating the food and beverage at a golf course, and catering in and from a restaurant.

After many years in the food and beverage industry, the Lambatos Family evidently knows a thing or two about how to make a business successful.  The young, charming and ambitious Anthony Lambatos – who originally wanted to go into Sports Marketing - says:  “I’m really thankful that I’ve been given this opportunity to build a great catering organization with great people that doesn’t just rely on one person.”  For Anthony Lambatos, being successful in business and consistently providing fresh, fabulous and festive food and events to customers is a tradition he’s ready to carry forward and make happen with his own personal touch.

For additional information on Footers Catering services go to:  www.FootersCatering.com - or contact Anthony Lambatos at (303)762-1410.

Anthony, what are you mostly focusing on these days?  The Footers name has been in the Denver community for 30 plus years, but we are a young, enthusiastic team that is constantly staying on top of trends and offering our clients the newest catering options!

Our focus is definitely on how we can improve the service we provide to our clients.  We are taking time to look at all of our processes determine how we can put an innovative spin on some of the things we do and hopefully become more efficient.

We recently added two new members to our team, so I would say we are focused on growing a strong, experienced team. Educating the public that Footers Catering isn’t just about the food, we are a full service caterer, and we hope to help our clients with as much or as little as they would like. From venues, to linens, to flowers, to innovative new menus, our staff has the experience to make your event not just an event but a great experience for your guests.

What do you feel makes Footers different from other caterers?  Over the years we have maintained the family feel and the personal touch given to each of our customers and their guests.  We don’t use temporary staff, so all of our servers are hired and put through our in house training program and our bartenders all go through TIPS safe serve training.  We really try to take a partner approach to the events we cater, so if there are ways outside of just the food that we can help our customers, we will do that.  I also think that the quality of our food sets us apart.  Our executive chef, Mark Glotfelty, has done an incredible job coming up with innovative new menu items, making all of our food in house and working with our event chefs to cook our food on site at our events.

How competitive is the catering business in Denver?  The growth of the catering industry has been unbelievable.  My dad talks about there being 4 or 5 caterers in Denver when he started in 1981.  Now there are hundreds of caterers in the metro area. Even in this economy there is still a lot of business out there.  I see the competition as friendly; I have a lot of respect for what some other caterers are doing.  I think we push each other and set higher standards for what people should expect when having a catered event.

What makes a catering company successful?  How about a restaurant?  You must have great people working for you.  All of the systems and procedures don’t work very well if you don’t have passionate employees executing them.  Service is probably the most important thing we do.   It starts with our event coordinators working with our clients on the planning and the design of the event, then it’s up to our chefs and equipment staff to do all of the necessary preparation and ends with our service staff executing incredible events.  This whole process must be easy for the client so they are able to enjoy their event stress free. 

We screen all of our potential employees and there is an intense eight step interview process for people applying for key positions.  We also commit more than $50,000 each year on the professional development and training of our employees.

Do you have any regrets about the career path you have chosen?  My sister and I grew up saying that we would never work in the catering business.  (She now works for a caterer in Chicago.)  I was originally pursuing a career in the sports industry, but the opportunity to run a business appealed to me when I decided to join my father.  I love analyzing our systems, using the numbers to forecast and plan for the future, and giving my employees opportunities to succeed and grow.  I saw an opportunity to build on what my father had established and we have made some great strides so far.  I continue to learn from my experiences every day and I look forward to the challenges that pop up.  It’s not always easy working with family, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.   So I don’t have any regrets, but it definitely wasn’t the path I had planned.

Is there a social or charitable event you personally look forward to attending each year?  I recently attended the Prader-Willi Kentucky Derby party at the Cable Center.  It was one of the most exciting fundraisers I’ve attended.  You could use “Prader-Willi” money to bet on the horses and then use that money to bid on silent and live auction items.  It was also one of the few events that are geared more toward families with shows and activities for the children.  The Booklover’s Ball is another one of my favorites so much so that I sit on their sponsorship committee for the ball.  There is something about having a party in the library that is very unique and a little mischievous.

Is there something you would still like to learn how to do? (speak another language, skydive?)  I’m still working on how to dunk a basketball, but at 5’9” and getting older the dream is fading.  I’d also like to learn how to play the piano.

What do you think is the secret to living a happy life?  I’ve always tried to surround myself with good people, do the best that I can and make time for fun.  Perception is an incredible thing.  Even if sometimes you think the glass is half empty, you can still be thankful there is water in the glass.  I’m a big believer that things are what you make them.  If you work hard good things will happen.

What do you love most about Denver?  The unpredictable weather, I love the 60 degree days in January and the occasional May or September snow storm.  Going to school in Oregon made me really appreciate all of the sun we get.  I love being outside and being active.

What will we find you doing during your time off?   In the winter I’m usually skiing which works pretty well since Jan-March tend to be slower months in the catering industry.  I also love playing basketball and road biking.  I enjoy almost anything that has to do with sports whether playing or watching.

What's the high and low of working in the restaurant and catering business?  The high is the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment you get when you come into an empty event space, set up an event, the guests come in and have a great time, they leave and the room gets cleaned up and left just they way it started earlier in the day.  That process is really fun to see.  My dad always says, “There’s no tomorrow in this business.”  We are performers, and we have to make sure we make it all happen when the show starts.

What do you consider your proudest accomplishment so far?   I am very proud of the team we have at Footers.  I have a great deal of confidence in our team that whether I am at the event or not, it will run just as smoothly.   The fact that one of our coordinators (Colbert) and our sales person (Brynn) were both brides of ours before they came to work for us speaks volumes about the job we do.  I am flattered that they wanted to come work for our company. 

Do you have a favorite saying or quote you like?   I love quotes – I put them on all of the agenda’s for my meetings with my coordinators.  I try to use words to inspire or motivate my employees whenever I get the chance.  One that stands out is one from a friend that passed away:  “I hold inside of me the power that resides within a mind that does not accept failure” – Matthew Meyer

What should all of us be working on these days to make our country better for future generations?   I think society as a whole needs to start taking responsibility for our own actions.  It seems that too many people look for an easy way out or want to blame someone else for their problems.   I think we would set a better example for future generations if we became a little more accountable when things don’t go our way.

It takes so much energy to be in your business, what do you do to make sure you stay healthy and able to keep up with the challenges you face each day?  I coach youth swimming and basketball.  It forces me to get away from work and reenergize myself.  It’s pretty easy to forget about a bad day when you see the happy go lucky attitude and smiling faces on all of the kids.  Finally I love the people I work with.  It makes it pretty easy to come to work when you look forward to accomplishing great things with people you respect and enjoy being around.

What's in the future for Anthony Lambatos?  I’m signed up for a century bike ride early this summer, and I have a whole “bucket list” of sporting events I’d like to attend.  Professionally I have a lot of plans for Footers – I have a feeling that you’ll be hearing a lot more about us in the near future.