Marcia’s Catering of São Paulo isn’t exactly a “rags-to-riches” story, but it is true that in its first months of operation, the owner had to sell her personal automobile in order to purchase a vehicle to transport orders.
Entrepreneur Marcia Costa launched her business-aviation catering venture in 1992 from a rented house. Four months later she was off and running with a contract from Infraero, the government entity that manages Brazil’s commercial airports. The award gave her access to the busy Congonhas Airport near the center of São Paulo. “I won that contract, and then had to sell my personal car to finance the company’s first delivery vehicle,” she reminisced.
Today, Marcia’s Catering (Stand 1024) operates 10 refrigerated minivans to deliver catering 24/7, 365 days a year. From a single kitchen in a rented house, the company has grown to serve 11 airports throughout Brazil from kitchens in three cities–Brasilia, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
That will soon grow to four cities and 13 airports when she adds Rio de Janeiro, serving Galeão International and downtown Santos Dumont airports. Marcia’s Catering won the Infraero request for bids at Santos Dumont and she is now awaiting approval of the final lease by both parties. The kitchen there is expected to begin operations no later than December.
“Rio is returning to its status as a hot destination,” said Costas, “not only for the upcoming tourist mega events–the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics–but because a growing number of world-class financial institutions are now making Rio their center of operation.”
Ethnic and Cultural Influences
With the influx of more international clientele, Marcia’s Catering has made changes to reflect the expectations of different ethnic and cultural tastes. One example is the addition of organic dishes, more fruits and salads, and grains and fibers. “We are excited to now provide a fully organic menu, using locally grown produce, [and] we have had numerous compliments from health-conscious passengers and crews,” said Costa.
Her kitchens are continually serving new customers, and the menu has expanded well beyond typical Brazilian cuisine. “We’ve learned that they tend to prefer comfort food on the way home,” she explained. “They’re often tired and exhausted from work, and on the way home they want to eat something that says ‘home’ to them.”
In the past, Marcia’s Catering has used disposable dishes and flatware, but more and more the company is switching to fine china and cutlery in deference to customers with higher expectations.
Costa said the company’s customers, even the international ones, are nevertheless more cost-conscious and more likely to request detailed pricing when placing an order. “We are always working closely with our providers. We do take pricing into consideration, but never at the expense of quality,” she said.
However, sometimes there are challenges to be faced by the business. Costa admitted that this year seems to be slightly slower than 2012. “During the international FIFA Federations Cup held in Brazil this past June, aviation authorities closed most of the major airports to general aviation, “which created a lot of problems for business aviation operators, and created logistics nightmares for us.”
At the same time, Marcia’s Catering is picked up more business from major international corporations coming to Brazil on a regular basis to oversee their investments. With the opening of the new kitchen in Rio, which many of the companies and individuals prefer as a destination, she said, “We expect that although business in 2013 may be a little slower than 2012, it will still be healthy.”