Canuel Caterers: Food Service Professionals for Any Occasion

Brian and Glenn Canuel founded Canuel Caterers 20 years ago, and even after expanding across various food service markets the company is still proudly family-owned and -operated. Today Canuel Caterers still operates from the original facility in Surrey, British Columbia, and the team can be found in over 50 locations serving more than 20,000 hungry professionals, students and guests across southern British Columbia.

Whether serving customers through vending machines or at, sporting arenas, high schools and fairgrounds, the Canuel Caterers team works hard to please each person with healthy, hearty and wholesome options for everyday occasions and more indulgent fare with flare for family gatherings.

Behind the scenes, the Canuel brothers have paid careful attention to maintaining a controlled level of growth. “Our name is on the napkins we use, so it’s clear that we care and we’re always asking ourselves if the next opportunity is the best opportunity,” says Glenn Canuel, director of daily operations at Canuel Catering. Canuel Catering landed its first contract with the North Delta Secondary School in British Columbia, a contract that the Canuel Caterers team holds even today.

Along the way, the catering team picked up contracts for a number of the region’s school districts and expanded with a business and industry division for corporate cafeterias, a concession supply contract for the Coquitlam Sports and Leisure Complex, as well as a traditional catering division to handle family gatherings and special events.

Innovation and Imagination

Throughout its growth, the Canuel Caterers team has never lost sight of the advantages of maintaining a close-knit group of core professionals. “Our clients appreciate the fact that we are always open and available to them,” says Glenn. “If a client needs to discuss certain dietary requirements or cost concerns, our door is open and we have the flexibility to adjust wherever we can for them.” Additionally, its smaller size allows the team to retool menus and adapt to new market requirements with greater efficacy.

In fact, the Canuel Caterers team gained traction early on by rethinking the high school cafeteria experience. The Canuel brothers realized early on that students and educators alike wanted something beyond the traditional scoop-n-serve approach. In turn, Canuel Caterers launched a new school cafeteria concept that more closely resembles a restaurant with salads, wraps and sandwiches made fresh on-site daily.

Students were soon queuing up for school lunches once again, clearing the way for the Canuel brothers to expand the service for public agencies and corporate clients alike. Through its business and industry division, the Canuel Caterers team now serves professionals at Surrey City Hall, Vancouver City Hall, CIBC Data Centre and Cascade AeroSpace, Overwaitea Food Group’s head office, providing the same attention to detail in a business environment where small details – like freshly brewed Starbucks coffee – can make all the difference to employee productivity.

Simultaneously, Canuel Caterers launched a traditional catering division, partnering with the Surrey Municipal Complex to provide special fare for wedding, anniversaries and holiday celebrations at the city’s private banquet facility, Occasions at the Pond. Even if the event is off-site, clients can choose from Canuel Caterers’ tier of menu options, which include spreads for sit-down events where money is no object or a party platter or two for small gatherings.

Healthy and Hearty

Roughly three years ago, the Canuel Caterers team retooled its menu to reflect the health and nutritional concerns of parents, legislators and community members. Before the provincial government set nutritional standards for food service providers in the educational market, Canuel Caterers partnered with a registered dietician to revise its menu and ensure a plethora of healthy choices for both breakfast and lunch selections.

“We don’t aim to simply meet nutritional guidelines the province establishes,” says Glenn. “Our goal is ultimately to come up with healthy choices that are still exciting for kids and adults to eat.” The new menu includes items like a low-fat spicy chicken wrap, and fruit and yogurt parfait that deliver essential nutrients without skimping on flavor.

More recently, however, the Canuel Caterers team has focused on leveraging its smaller size to save clients money where it matters most. In lieu of the economic downturn, public and private entities are looking for ways to cut back on overhead costs without eliminating the vital services employees depend on.

“We work very hard to keep our costs competitive and John Dacre [operations manager for Canuel Caterers] is constantly on the lookout for ways we can streamline our supply chain and maintain our solid working relationships with our supply network,” continues Glenn.

In 2012 the Canuel Caterers team is set to expand into a new 10,000-square foot head office complete with a 6,000-square foot commissary kitchen and a 10,000-square foot warehouse. The new space will serve as a distribution centre for all 55 of the company’s locations, and support it pursuing new market sectors. The company already has a new contract as the primary food service provider to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in Surrey, British Columbia, and Glenn hopes to see Canuel Caterers expand into the home-delivered meals market and lunch programs for elementary schools and camps.

No matter where the catering team chooses to go, the Canuel brothers will be standing by to ensure that every opportunity is the right opportunity for the Canuel Caterers’ brand. After all, the family name has come to be associated with not just good food, but great food, great service and a great value.