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Heidi’s Events & Catering turns 30…and I turn 60…this month!

By, Heidi Vail

Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that I was working out at Joe Weider Gym on Ray Rd. (now a Peter Piper Pizza) and cooking nutritiously balanced meals for athletes.

That’s how it all started back in 1992!

My first customer still lives here in Ahwatukee.

The weekly home meal service we offered was the first of its kind. Long before the meal prep places, or delivery services. I started in my home until I realized it was not legal to cook at home and sell food. I leased a kitchen on Elliot & 48th St; the old Seafood Market. My father and I would cook at night after they closed. I could occupy the kitchen from 11:00pm and had to be out by 7:00am. My father would deliver meals to homes while I went to the gym. He had keys or garage openers to half the people in Ahwatukee back then.

Well after a year of scrimping and saving I had enough to rent a space in a strip mall in Tempe at Baseline & Mill. But not enough to have it built out. So I did what I could and paid the rest. I remember laying tile, painting, jackhammering the floor to lay pipe. I met my husband at that time. Poor Troy, every date had something to do with construction and food. As I ran on the treadmill at Joe Weiders’ I befriended Johnny Basha. He was often walking on the treadmill beside me. He wanted to help me. He took me to his enormous Bashas’ warehouse and gave me a three compartment sink and a couple tables. I will never forget his generosity. We still have and use both pieces.

So during the first ten years of business, we worked, grew, and saved: able to rent additional suites in that Tempe strip mall. At that time, we started offering rental equipment and full service event planning. We basically outgrew the strip mall. We were thriving doing all types of events, from weddings, corporate, private parties, and had a lot of A-list clients.

I thought it was time to buy a building. So in 2004, with more scrimping and saving, I came up with the 25% required for an SBA loan to buy a building. With ten years of profitable business behind me, a certified woman owned business, and - I might add - no debt, along with good credit: I got the loan!!

Once again, another build-out, only this time 11,000 square feet of commercial kitchen, showroom, rental warehouse and offices. We are currently operating out of that building on 15th street in Tempe today.

I can’t say it’s all been roses but it has been a good run. Working hard for something you’re passionate about makes it easy to go to work each day. With the support of my family we made it to be one of the top five caterers in The Valley! And have never fallen off. Never a red year! 2020 was the first year since we opened we didn’t make a profit; thanks to the pandemic. But we are back in the saddle and business is thriving!

My son, Adam Zimnisky is the Executive Chef and my daughter, Tanya Schmit is the CEO. In May 2019, I decided to retire.

I had always worked hard to build a business foundation for my children to make a good living as long as they choose to. They grew up in the business and know it as I do. They are the new face of Heidi’s Events and are full of great ideas and the energy to make it happen. With the two of them, some longtime dedicated employees’ support, and hard work over 27 years I am able to step aside with confidence. I am always here for them but have no doubt they got this.

My grandkids say I’m young! I am. 60 is only the beginning. I believe if you spend the first 20 years of your life learning and growing, then work really hard for the next 40 years, the last 20 or 30 (or more) can be for resting and living the dream.

Thank you to all of you that have helped me along the way. I appreciate you.