Airware Caters To the Caterers

 - April 2, 2013, 5:10 AM

As a co-owner of Tastefully Yours, a large Atlanta-based business aviation caterer, Amanda Kraft had for years bemoaned the fact that packaging and storage materials were anything but catering friendly–too big, too bulky, too heavy, too expensive and often “just plain ugly.”

Finally fed up with packing orders in giant plastic containers that were too large to store anywhere but the baggage bay and were available only in quantities of 1,000, she embarked on a voyage of discovery. Her solution is a new business called Airware.

The company opened last year and already has a rapidly growing customer base and inventory of more than 700 items, from a non-toxic, bamboo-source, eco-friendly coffee service to shatter-resistant crystal to packing materials designed to fit neatly into the tight confines of the typical business jet galley.

Even better, said Kraft, Airware has made arrangements with suppliers that will allow her company to fill orders in smaller quantities more appropriate to caterers who may be handling only a dozen orders a day. “In the past, caterers were obliged to buy in mass quantities that created a storage problem for smaller companies,” she explained. “From Airware, the minimum amount required to place an order is only a fraction of the traditional manufacturer’s mandate.”

Always with an eye to new products, Airware recently introduced the Thermapack Gel Ice Blanket, which absorbs and encapsulates water. Once the cells have been hydrated, they can be frozen, and because the product is designed in a modular form, sheets of Thermapack are easily cut between the cell sections to fit any size container. In fact, added Kraft, they can be cut to fit while in any form, dry, fully hydrated or frozen.

The complete freezing process requires about 15 minutes and the packs will remain frozen for at least 12 hours. After use, they can be rehydrated and frozen again, allowing for multiple uses.

Walking through the display room, filled with items like palm wood salt and pepper shaker sets, bamboo trays, deluxe bento boxes, and disposable napkins of cotton or linen, she offers the future a confident smile.

“We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop packaging solutions superstore,” Kraft concluded. “And we’re getting better every day.”