Over the last two years, F2T Productions, the Columbia-based farm-to-table dinner and event company, has seen private catering go from a side hustle to a legitimate business.
So much so that it now makes sense for F2T, which puts on popular events like Pig and Oyster Roast, Smoke and Beer Festival and others, to establish another entity to handle the other end of its business. Enter Honey River, a new catering and private event arm with the same local, sustainable ethos as F2T.
“The Farm to Table Event Company, we’ve been doing that for eight years and people have started demanding private versions of everything we did,” explains Vanessa Driscoll Bialobreski, managing partner of F2T and Honey River. “We needed to separate it. … F2T just kind of birthed a new business in a sense.”
Per figures shared by Bialobreski, the company handles about 20 ticketed events a year, as opposed to anywhere from 60 to 100 private catering events — up from what started as roughly 20 private events a year.
“I would say in the past two years it grew about 50 percent, and we just realized that we needed to take a hold of it now,” she says. “F2T never started out to be a company either. … Now the caterings turned into the same thing.”
Honey River’s other players include Bourbon and Black Rooster owner/chef Kristian Niemi, another partner, and Gabrielle Watson, the entity’s top chef, both of whom fill similar roles with F2T. Honey River will also manage catering for Niemi’s restaurants.
With F2T shedding its catering arm, it leaves room for Bialobreski and her staff to work on refining the company’s original purpose: farm-to-table dinner events. She says this could mean adding one more event to their calendar, but the main goal is to focus on providing more value with their existing events, whether through sponsorships or improving the overall experience.
“We really want to take those and make them the best they can be,” she says. “You can’t really rest on your laurels, especially in a competitive industry.”
Further growing F2T’s events would start to saturate Columbia with too many ticketed happenings, Bialobreski reasons. She points to her own slate of events, along with the Columbia Food and Wine Festival (produced in part by Free Times) and Sarah Simmons’ Feed the City.
“There's going to be only so many ticketed events I can produce a year,” she explains. “I feel like F2T needs to not compete with itself.”