Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’
May31

Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’

This story was originally published in the May 23, 2018 issue of Input Fort Wayne as Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’.    Have you ever wanted delivery service from a restaurant that doesn’t offer it? That’s the idea behind Waiter on the Way. The process is simple. Visit the website, and you’ll find a list of local and national restaurants you can order from with detailed menus and weekly blog stories. Simply call or place an order on the mobile-friendly interface, and the food you’re craving will be delivered to your home or office. While other delivery services have come and gone in northeast Indiana over the years, Waiter on the Way has remained a community staple. Based out of downtown Fort Wayne, it continues to grow its influence in the region. When the owner, Derek Berkes, purchased the company in 2001, he had a staff of 20 people and delivered from 20 restaurants. Today, he has more than 110 employees, delivering from more than 140 restaurants, including local favorites like Casa, Coney Island, and Shigs In Pit. “When we started, we were averaging about 65 orders a day. Now, we average 265 orders a day,” Berkes says. He may have been honored with a 2017 Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly Business Excellence Award for “Business of the Year – Revenue Less than $5 Million,” but money was not always easily accessible for him. Instead, he says his personal failures and his ability to learn from them are what gave him the work ethic he has today. From debt to success Before Berkes turned 30, he accumulated massive amounts of debt as a result of trying to build a business, create cash flow, and hire a large staff. He wanted to take Waiter on the Way to the next level and believed that accumulating debt while doing so was the only viable approach. In his attempt to grow the company, the pressure of making money for the sake of making money become overbearing. He knew he needed to change something. “I used to chase money. I made the profit more important than anything else because I had so many people relying on the success of the business.” Berkes says. “That approach simply doesn’t work. I was very driven. I still am, but I changed what I allowed to drive me.” In his early 30s, he decided to reset his approach around creating value for the Fort Wayne community. “I focus on the quality and the relationships,” Berkes says. “I want to do the right thing every time and with every interaction. Those components...

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Taste of the Arts: Two Day Festival
Aug24

Taste of the Arts: Two Day Festival

Taste of the Arts is back and better than ever for the 2016 season. With not one but two days to hang out on Main Street in Downtown Fort Wayne, this is a celebration for every person and every age. Tens of thousands of people partake in Taste of the Arts each year. Brought to you by Arts United, this event is located right in the midst of their downtown art campus at 300 E. Main Street. The festival itself is free and tickets are available to enjoy delicious food from a large amount of local vendors that look forward to this each year. Everything kicks off on Friday, August 26 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m., and then continues on Saturday, August 27 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Enjoy music, food, and more including the YLNI Farmer’s Market on Barr Street, performances by dAnce.Kontemporary, Fort Wayne Ballet, and Pyroscope, a movie night with Living Fort Wayne, and a day of street performance fun from the Downtown Improvement District’s BuskerSquare (the sister to their annual BuskerFest event). There will also be mile runs, KidsARTivities, and unique events at Artlink. If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to come hungry and don’t hold back. Some of my favorite food items are found each year at Taste of the Arts. With unique food portions available from different vendors it’s the perfect opportunity to sample everything without having to choose just one place. I highly recommend the Meatloaf Cupcakes from Waiter on the Way and those awesome sliders from Shigs In Pit! This weekend we are expecting sunny skies and warm temperatures. Bring your friends and kids for an event you won’t forget (or you can help volunteer). There really is something for everyone, and with two days to explore all that Taste of the Arts has to offer, this is something you are going to be coming back to for many years in the future. Make sure to share your photos on social media as you enjoy the fun with hashtag...

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WOW Factor Catering – Bringing the Party to You!
Aug01

WOW Factor Catering – Bringing the Party to You!

Summer is upon us as evidenced by the long hot days, children (okay, and me) playing Pokémon Go in the streets, and endless festivities. Between weddings, backyard parties, baby showers, birthday parties, and dog adoptions parties (yes, that is a thing) it oftentimes seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get anything done. That’s where Waiter on the Way comes in. You most likely have heard of Waiter on the Way, Fort Wayne’s locally owned restaurant food delivery service, that brings over 150 restaurants directly to you. Owner Derek Berkes prides himself on excellent customer service and delivering beyond expectations. Having been with the business 15 years, he has has seen it expand from food delivery, an acquisition of local dessert staple Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies (can I just tell you how addicting the Lemon Ricotta cookies are?!), and a change in locale. The business exploded in popularity and demand until it literally ran out of space. Berkes made the decision to move downtown to be more central to the city and create better visibility with an actual storefront, WOW Factor, that serves quick grab-and-go boxed lunches that include delicious sandwiches, salads, and, of course, the aforementioned cookie. In typical fashion, Waiter on the Way is expanding once again with the addition of WOW Factor Catering. This new venture has Berkes partnering with General Manager, Brandi Schorey, to custom-make creative culinary concoctions for anything from bridal showers to dinner parties, baby showers, weddings, and more. I was especially intrigued by the brunch option in which you can design your very own backyard brunch (or indoors if you prefer!) for you and your friends. They deliver everything to your specifications, including utensils, and can even bring the beer and wine as long as you give them advanced notice! Its like Uber for your party! While you have the ability to order pre-designed items online, Brandi recommends that you contact her directly so that she can work with you on custom-designing your event. She has been working with Waiter on the Way for 13 years and has organized numerous events. She can help you navigate through your event menu and make sure everything matches your specifications. When I met with her she was overflowing with ideas from custom-designed cupcakes to mouth watering entrees. You can even schedule time for a tasting to see what flavor profiles you prefer. Nakia, formerly the in-house baker at Vanilla Bean, designs many of the desserts on their menu and enjoys the creative challenge. I peeped her Hello Kitty cupcakes that were custom-made for an event and they were beyond adorable! You will be able...

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Last Minute New Year’s Eve Ideas
Dec30

Last Minute New Year’s Eve Ideas

Get your party dress on and your black tie out because New Year’s Eve is tomorrow!  If you’re still wondering where you and your friends are going to celebrate, we have compiled a list of last minute ideas! You are guaranteed to have a great time ringing in the New Year at one of these events. Here are your suggestions for celebrating 2015 and welcoming in 2016!   Science Central’s Countdown to Noon (1950 Clinton St) If you have kids or have a hard enough time staying up till 10 on most nights, this is perfect! From 10AM-2PM, Science Central will be providing a fun atmosphere for kids to celebrate the New Year without ruining their precious sleep cycle. Face painting, party favors, fun science demonstrations, and a humongous balloon drop will make this an awesome time for the family. Admission is $8 and free for children 2 years old and younger.   Wunderkammer Company’s Phoenix Rising (3402 Fairfield Ave) Come out and support a local organization dedicated to improving Fort Wayne! Starting at 8PM, there will be live music, dance performances, local art, and, yes, a cash bar. This event from run from 8PM-2AM. Tickets are $25 ($15 for designated drivers) and will include one free drink & champagne, food, and artsy activities for you to enjoy. Entertainment will be provided by Bliss Nova, DJ M.S.G., and Dick Wayne. All proceeds will go toward Wunderkammer Company who does so much for our community. Tickets are on sale at http://wunderkammernye.eventbrite.com/   Fort Wayne Komets (4000 Parnell Ave) Wanting something affordable and fun for the family? Then join your favorite local hockey team take on Indy Fuel for New Year’s Eve! Tickets are $8-$26 and will be located at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Game starts at 7:30PM so don’t miss your chance on ringing in the New Year with the Komets! Tickets are on sale at http://www.ticketmaster.com/Fort-Wayne-Komets-tickets/artist/806952?list_view=1&tm_link=tm_header_search   Deer Park Irish Pub (1530 Leesburg Rd) From 10PM-1AM, Deer Park will be hosting their annual New Year’s Eve party! Admission is FREE and will include a live band (Secret Mezzanine), free champagne toast at midnight, free food, and Venezuelan traditions!   Ceruti’s Countdown to 2016 (6325 Illinois Rd) From 8PM to 1AM, Ceruti’s will be hosting their annual New Year’s bash with major prizes and giveaways each hour! Heavy Hors D’oeuvres and a midnight Champagne toast will be complimentary by Ceruti’s. Tickets are $30. Giveaways will include hotel getaways and gift cards to some of Fort Wayne’s best restaurants! Entertainment will also be provided by the Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra. Tickets are on sale at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cerutis-countdown-to-2016-tickets-19641873372?aff=ehomecard   New Year’s Eve Gala at...

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