Spectrum Catering Concessions & Wicked Whisk

23 years of catering, concessions and expert event management
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Sean Barr

Just outside of Houston, Spectrum Catering Concessions (Spectrum) and its newly rebranded local catering arm, Wicked Whisk, continue a 23-yearlong tradition of serving major clientele. From Cirque du Soleil to the PGA Tour, Bonnaroo and other acclaimed music festivals to NFL and MLB events, as well as many high-end private events in the corporate arena, Spectrum brings top-notch service in many hospitality scenarios.

Named one of the Leading Caterers in America in the south, Spectrum has grown exponentially since inception in 1992. Dave Smalley, founder and CEO of the company, began his lengthy career in the food service industry on the restaurant side.

“I was working in the restaurant business in the early 1980s and there was a huge downturn in oil prices in Texas,” he recounts. “In order to survive, I had to go outside of the four walls of the restaurant – I did catering and even a beer booth at a festival; anything to make money. And that’s really how I started in this business.”

Once the local economy rebounded, Smalley sold his restaurant real estate and says one day he looked up and he was in the catering-concession business. “I’ve never really had a particular plan,” he admits. “We’ve set no sales goals in our company, yet we grow 20 to 30 percent a year through referrals. We don’t have sales people or an advertising budget at Spectrum; it’s all based on referrals and word-of-mouth business.”

On the road again

More than two decades later, Spectrum remains in The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston. However, the company recently added a new office and four new warehouses on-site. While Spectrum’s home base is in Houston, Smalley is rarely pinned down to this single location.

“We travel all over the country, doing the catering and concessions for major sporting events and music attractions across the U.S. and Canada,” he says. “We’re the North American hospitality provider for Cirque du Soleil and we operate close to 50 permanent entertainment venues around the country. We’re different from most catering companies.”

No matter where Smalley is, he says every event stands out in its own way. “I get the question, ‘What’s your favorite event,’ a lot,” he shares. “The truth is, whatever I’m working on, wherever I am, I can’t imagine anything being better or more fun than where I am. I enjoy every project.”

Experience that counts

For Spectrum, nearly every project is different in some aspect. The company provides a team of hospitality professionals to customize service and menus, create event themes and centerpiece ideas, handle equipment rentals and so much more.

“Our goal is to be a one-stop shop to our clients,” says Smalley. “We are here to guide them through menu selection from our team of talented chefs to service options ensuring that your event is personalized to exceed your expectations.  Spectrum prides itself on outstanding resources, and our goal is to ease the burden on clients.”

With a team of more than 500 employees, the company leverages years of experience and a highly qualified management team. “Across the country, we have about 500 employees,” tells Smalley. “Spectrum is fortunate to have a wealth of talented, experienced hospitality service managers; many with well over a decade of experience.”

For years, Spectrum has been putting this experience to the test. “Our corporate and personal integrity, our ‘do-it-now attitude,’ along with our sense of urgency set Spectrum well apart from all other competitors,” adds Smalley. “We are also of the opinion that experience is, without a doubt, the single most important element of consideration when selecting a hospitality provider.”

Houston’s hottest caterer powered by Spectrum

In 2011, Spectrum put its years of catering and concessions management experience to work to launch Wicked Whisk, a subsidiary focused on regional catering. As part of the Spectrum family, Wicked Whisk has access to the same wealth of resources as its parent company with a focus on the Houston market.

“With the growth of the web and social media, it became really apparent to us that our online presence was very important,” explains Smalley. “When a customer visited Spectrum’s website, looking for a corporate caterer in Houston, it wasn’t really clear that Spectrum did that as well. So we branded Wicked Whisk as a means to differentiate ourselves in the Houston market specifically. Since doing so, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in local sales.”

Beyond exceptional catering and menu planning, Wicked Whisk takes care of every detail, from entertainment to venue rentals, transportation and valet parking to full bar services, tents, tables, chairs, china, linens, floral arrangements, personalized party favors, security, signage, event photography and more – anything needed to craft a successful event.

“We just put the finishing touches on the rebranding of Wicked Whisk,” tells Smalley. Wicked Whisk now offers a range of premium menu options and even runs a food truck to cater private events on wheels.

Smalley explains he doesn’t see things slowing down any time soon for any side of the business – Spectrum or Wicked Whisk. “We’re closing in on $100 million in revenue,” he details. “In business, I’m a fierce competitor, but it all comes back to how we run our company with a tremendous amount of integrity.”

No matter the vision – national or local – Spectrum Catering Concessions and Wicked Whisk can make it happen, with 23 years of event planning and preparation experience.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Adams Insurance Services