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updated: 7/15/2021 2:49 PM

Banding together during the pandemic

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It may have started with a hot dog back in 1971 when the eldest Walter brother, Tom, became a partner in Tasty Pup, but things really began to change when the three Walter brothers -- Tom, Larry and Kevin -- launched their own venture called Tasty Dawg in 1984. The success of the hot dog stand eventually turned into Tasty Catering in 1989.

Over the past 30-plus years Tasty Catering has grown into a catering powerhouse (Chicagoland's go-to caterer) and during pre-pandemic times was catering over 10,000 successful events per year in the Chicago area. The Tasty Catering team has garnered high honors, such as being named one of Forbes America's Best Small Companies and Inc. Magazine's Best Small Workplaces, as well as receiving the American Psychological Association National Award for Psychologically Healthiest Workplace, the Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics and many more.

Their client base contracts this award-winning caterer for a variety of event needs, including catering for corporate drop-offs, outdoor picnics and events, wedding receptions, special events, holiday parties and social catering.

In addition to providing great catered food and a place to work, Tasty Catering and the Walter brothers decided to share and instill their entrepreneurial spirit into future generations by helping to partner with, fund and launch additional companies.

In 2007 they launched T.F. Processors (TFP), a wholesale contract manufacturer of baked goods. TFP not only supplies baked goods at the national level, but they also create items for Tasty Catering and another sister company, That's Caring.

That's Caring, launched in 2008, is a gift basket/box company that ships sweets, snacks and wine gifts nationwide. For every gift purchased from That's Caring, meals are supplied to children living in food insecure homes throughout the United States.

To date, That's Caring, its clients and partner food banks have provided over 216,000 meals to children across the country. For more information visit, thatscaring.com.

Other Walter family of business ventures include:

• Nuphoriq -- A marketing company that specializes in marketing for caterers, venues and hospitality companies throughout the United States.

• Touhy Capital -- Provides funding for capital investments and employee assistance programs.

While the primary motivator to launch multiple companies was to share that entrepreneurial spirit, foster the next generation of entrepreneurs and further give back to the community, having a diverse family of companies also helped the business survive during the recent COVID-19 pandemic and keep their award-winning staff employed.

"When we saw the need for in-person events disappear overnight, we were able to pivot and utilize our staff to help sell and produce for That's Caring and T.F. Processors," said Kornel Grygo, CEO of Tasty Catering. "This meant that we were able to keep our family, a.k.a. staff, working and intact. Maintaining our same seasoned staff that delivers exceptional service has made it easier to hit the ground running as events make their comeback."

"That's Caring was built for the pandemic times. We were already shipping prepackaged food gifts from coast to coast, and all of those items were already individually packaged by T.F. Processors, keeping the food items extra sanitary," said That's Caring CEO Jamie Pritscher-Tomaino. "With the help of the Tasty Catering team, sales doubled during the pandemic times to provide employees working from home or during virtual meetings a sweet (or salty) treat."

The pandemic proves to be a case in point of the Walter brothers' big vision coming to life. While no one has a crystal ball, when you build a diverse family of companies who believe in doing the right thing for their team and community, you set your entire team up for success.