This is for all those moms who told their kids, “Bartending is fine for a summer job, but I’m sending you to college to get a real job.”In Tammy Johnson’s case, that first hospitality business job was the springboard for that real job. It also served as the inspiration for Johnson to launch one of the most innovative business ventures, AKA ‘real jobs’ in the area, Liquid Catering.
"I’ve worked every position imaginable, from retail store manager, to restaurant host, to bartender to cook to manager. I’ve always loved bartending and event planning, so it seemed natural to combine the two,” says Johnson.
When you’re planning a party, whether you’re doing it for your professional world or your friends, one of the most time-consuming, detail-oriented tasks is the planning of the bar. Where to put the liquor, how much to buy, where to get the glasses, condiments; all those details are now handled by Tammy Johnson and Liquid Catering.
“Liquid Catering is the Upstate’s only special event bartending and staffing company, “says Johnson. “We provide alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage service for weddings, corporate events, fundraisers, festivals and everything else. We are the people behind the bar making your event fun and interactive for your guests.”
Johnson has it all covered. “We provide all the staff, portable bars, alcohol, licensing and insurance, so our clients don’t have to worry about a thing. We also handle any type of event staffing, including providing security guards, caterers, greeters and event managers for any type of event.”
Always on the lookout for the newest trends, and ways to incorporate them into her business, Johnson has just launched cocktail making classes, wine tasting parties and day-of-wedding coordination services, all recently added to her menu of services for Liquid Catering.
Liquid Catering is Tammy Johnson’s dream fulfilled. “I’ve always wanted to open my own business. You could ask my parents and they’d tell you that I’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit my whole life, and last summer I started to look for a gap in the Upstate’s event planning industry and found it was bartending services. Most caterers don’t want to provide bar services – the liability insurance and training is just too costly. We fit perfectly because we don’t do food, so we can put all of our energy into providing top-quality bar services that are unique and creative.”
Johnson says her biggest challenge has been a misperception about Liquid Catering’s services, “Starting an alcohol-only catering company in South Carolina, I still get push back from some of the conservative venues and vendors who want nothing to do with alcohol. In reality we have a very strict Safe Serve policy, my bartenders are never allowed to over-serve a guest, and they would never serve anyone under 21. Some brides think that because it’s their wedding, none of the rules apply to them.”
Her biggest success, says Johnson, has been Liquid Catering’s ability to start booking events immediately. “I’ve been amazed at how quickly we started. It can normally take years to start building a strong client base, (but) because my name was already established in the event planing world, it didn’t take much for people to catch on to my new concept. I was shocked when, on our third night of events, we actually had two extremely large events, one for 300, the other for 600. I had to do a lot of hiring immediately after opening.”
But Johnson is the company’s only full time employee. “I do it all, as sole owner, (we have 50 part-time employees) I do everything! From marketing and sales to training and business development, I do it all.” Tammy Johnson says her drink specialty is her classic signature lemon drop, her favorite drink, but, “that recipe is a closely guarded secret.”
This story was written by Katrina Daniel and featured in Greenville Business Magazine- September 2011
Special Thanks To: