By Emily Guerrero, Editor-in-Chief
Customer demand and a love of what they do drew Gloria and Tyler Rouse out of retirement. They reopened Georgetown Caterers in December 2012 after a two-year hiatus.
office built that I am currently occupying. Tyler and I bought the current office [at 416 Mill Street] back in 2001 from Ronald and Joy Houghton who owned Rockledge Mansion. We had the office and kitchen built so we could be in Occoquan to do events at the mansion, which had been remodeled as event space to include a ballroom that seats 120.
PWL: Why did you decide to open an art studio after your 2010 retirement?
Rouse: We still owned the space and decided to open an art studio there. I wanted to pursue some of the things that I never had time to do before. So I offered writing classes, sculpting classes, painting classes and I took them all. My interest in the [arts] goes way back. I actually was on the ground floor with the Potomac Business Committee for the Arts.
PWL: What was the inspiration for operating a catering company from within the studio space?
Rouse: This was a simple choice. We had “Dinner in the Gallery.” Who wouldn’t want to have good food surrounded by beautiful art? The commercial kitchen is upstairs so it was quite simple. We also offered the space to small parties of 20 or less. It grew from there.
I guess you might say I still wanted to be retired, but Tyler missed cooking. We were still being approached by friends and family to do weddings, and we had sold all the vans, trucks and equipment. It made us think that we left an empty spot where the company used to be. So we decided to start catering again. There was an opportunity for me to be the salesperson for Rockledge Mansion [again] in 2012, and it was the perfect opportunity to offer our catering with the rental of the property. We cater a few things off site, but most of it is at Rockledge or within Occoquan. That’s home.
PWL: What have you found to be the most effective way to attract customers and build loyalty?
Rouse: We rely mostly on word of mouth for our weddings and also some advertising in the wedding magazines, social media and websites. I believe that the wedding that I am working on at the moment is the most important thing in the world, as it is to the bride I am working with. My brides tell me that they are happy to work with me because I am so calm.
PWL: You are operating on a smaller scale this time around. Would you say that you two are officially out of retirement now?
Rouse: Technology made it easier to scale back. I am able to answer the phone literally anywhere, and send information everywhere. I am busy, and there really isn’t much time to be retired. I think that retired part will come when I find another me to fill in while I am off playing. Till then, I will be grateful to all clients, past and present, who have made my business a success.
PWL: What has owning your business meant for your lifestyle?
Rouse: The business has given Tyler and [me] the opportunity to meet a wide range of interesting people. We are very richly blessed with our clients and friends. Tyler and I have always traveled in January for our wedding anniversary. The catering allows us to do this because of the seasonal wedding business.
I am very grateful for the opportunity.
PWL: What advice would you give to others considering starting—or restarting—a business?
Rouse: Love what you are doing and make sure you are good at it. We are looking forward to filling our weekends with wonderful weddings and events, for years to come.
For more information on Georgetown Caterers, call 703-615-8565 or visit www.georgetowncaterers.net.
Emily Guerrero is editor-in-chief at Prince William Living and a freelance writer. She lives in Lake Ridge with her husband and three sons, and can be reached at [email protected]