Behind The Scenes Inc.: Providing an Experience in Great Taste

A company renowned for pleasing the palates of the entertainment industry, corporate groups and private events alike, Behind The Scenes Inc. (BTS) has expanded from its headquarters in San Diego, Calif., to venues across both the country and the globe. The company is known for its work at product launches, high-profile weddings, conventions and corporate events, including corporate campus full-service café catering, as well as for the lavish one-off entertainment and fundraising events it executes. In recent months the premiere catering and events company has geared up for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, U.K. BTS has found success through a philosophy of offering exquisite cuisine, establishing innovative, appealing environments and overseeing global logistics to assure unforgettable events.
However, BTS wasn’t always so high profile. John Crisafulli, president of BTS, remembers how the company has grown from humble beginnings to be a nationally recognized company. “We sold just over a $100,000 our first year, and we were so excited,” states Crisafulli. “It’s come a long way since then.”
The company was purchased in late 1990 as a one-man operation that did back-seat catering at concerts and music venues. It continued to follow various Southern California music venues until the 1994 - 1995 America’s Cup in San Diego. America’s Cup is an international sailing race, and one of the oldest sailing venues in the world, so it garners national media attention. At the event BTS catered the entire compound for all those networks and cable channels.
“The turning point in our growth was the America’s Cup,” recalls Crisafulli. “We catered for the broadcast companies from around the globe.” At this point BTS started what would become a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), which would lead the company towards more connections within the broadcasting industry. “Our relationship with ESPN led to us catering the 1996 Republican National Convention, which then led to relationship with the National Broadcasting Company [NBC],” explains Crisafulli.
From Broadcast News to the Olympics
The company’s dedication to seamlessly executing sophisticated events resulted in BTS becoming the catering firm of choice for ESPN, NBC, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Cable News Network (CNN), as well as other major broadcasting companies that sponsor special events. “Those relationships led us into the 2000 Olympic Games for NBC, and this started our Olympic division,” states Crisafulli, “Every two years we’re around the globe catering to the games.” This has added to the company’s capabilities and opportunities in several ways.
BTS still has a catering office in Beijing, China, which receives regular requests for catering jobs in the area. Seeing the impact that can be made globally thanks to its dedication to quality of service, BTW will elect to keep the base it establishes following 2012’s Olympics as well.
“We have a temporary office in London, with four staff full-time, which will grow as the Olympics near,” relates Crisafulli. In comparison, BTS employs 35 full-time and 60 part-time staff members in its home base of San Diego. As events and projects happen the company takes on more contract staff. According to Crisafulli, the longer the contract is the more people BTS hires. Basing positioning and hiring decisions on what will allow the company to maintain its flexibility without sacrificing attention to detail, BTS possesses an advantage overs its competitors.
Most major catering competitors – such as Aramark and Compass – are centered in a certain area, and maintain venue-anchored contracts. “They have a broad reach, because they’re managing an existing stadium or arena; they get the events by default,” observes Crisafulli. BTS, meanwhile, maintains the capabilities to do a lot of work on a national and international basis that not many businesses of its size can muster.
The company’s agility at moving from handpicked event to event presents a serious challenge to the bigger companies that are required to stay within a set network. “We’re able to operate much more efficiently with much less overhead than they do,” declares Crisafulli. For example, BTS has worked events such as those for the Susan G Komen for the Cure organization, for whom BTS has sett up in different cities across the country hosting 3-day walk events for breast cancer fundraising, flown in chefs and sourced materials from a mainline supplier like Sysco or US Food Service alongside those from local vendors.
What They Bring to the Table
Another quality that separates BTS from the competition is its policy regarding the transparency of arrangements between clients, venues and vendors. Crisafulli feels BTS is an initiator on a new food and beverage industry trend, which involves managers paying a flat clearly stated rate for venues. This allows the company to better manage its budget and provide more for the venue’s directors and participants.
“We work directly with the coordinator of the event or the client,” articulates Crisafulli, “All of our accounting is done open-book with our clients, and all of the revenue and profits return to them at the end of day.” In this way BTS creates a true partnership with its clients and companies, and from that partnership come more added bonuses. For BTS it means being allowed to bring in vendor partners, such as Starbucks.
“Sometimes they provide us with products or services that are either free or at a significant discount,” relays Crisafulli, “We’re able to pass that savings directly back to our clients.” The arrangement is by all accounts highly beneficial to both parties. “It keeps our client attached to us, because we’re bringing something to the table, and it keeps our vendors happy because they have access to these events,” Crisafulli affirms. With BTS acting as the middleman, it further increases both the companies’ connections and enriches the relationships already established.
Several of BTS’ competitors have started offering such deals in their initial package to clients, but the industry is often slow to change. “In the past it was always a game between food and beverage suppliers and event managers,” maintains Crisafulli. “The client was kept in the dark. We show them really what the numbers are.”
These business practices have ensured growth for the company, and it has been expanding steadily since its inception. While the recent recession definitely changed things, BTS refused to change its prices, instead compensating by providing additional services. As a result, Crisafulli confirms, “We grew our way out of the recession.”
Once BTS has a client the company does not lose that client. While it grows to include new venues and reinforce relationships with established vendors, the company continues to work with the same organizations from 1995, demonstrating its trademark loyalty and versatility. Behind The Scenes Inc.’s acclaimed team of chefs and staff will continue to bring innovation, professionalism, flexibility and, above all, exquisite cuisine to the table.