From its humble beginnings beside the Pacific in Santa Barbara to a thriving enterprise in the shadow of Mount Bachelor, Country Catering has been keeping it in the family for four generations, serving up some champion-level chow in Central Oregon since 1992.
Owner Frank Serbus is proud of the legacy of good food he’s created since moving to Bend twenty years ago and looks back on two decades in the busy food service and catering business that runs deep in his blood.
The savory home of the “Famous Tri Tip Sandwich” and “Bend’s Best” line of deli products, Country Catering is well fortified and fully staffed to accommodate any of your private parties, catering functions and special events, working closely with their loyal customers to meet and exceed their culinary expectations.
“We’re celebrating our twenty year anniversary this year,” said Serbus. “We started out in the Butler Market convenience store on South Highway 97 and moved to our current location on the corner of Ninth and Wilson in 2007.
My daughter Rozanna worked with me at the small deli in the back of the convenience store and we did quite a bit of catering too, starting with one van.”
Country Catering has now expanded to six catering vehicles and four mobile bbq units. His son, Cody, worked as a clean-up kid back then and has now been elevated to the position of a business partner.
“At Butler Market we had three employees and now we have eight full-time servers with our seasonal staff numbering as high as twenty. Besides the deli restaurant, we also do weddings, company picnics, family reunions and fundraisers. It’s a four-generation family business. My father, Frank, and his father-in-law, Morgan, started it way back in 1968 in California.”
Specializing in Ranch Style BBQ and fine grilling year-round, their cozy deli establishment on Wilson also serves up hearty breakfasts, lunches and dinners to famished Bendites of all ages. Inside, the wide glass deli case offers a tantalizing array of salads and side dishes like Cody’s award-winning Tri Tip chili, famous baked beans or Red Rosemary potato salad to accompany your sandwich creation, with casual indoor and outdoor seating and the rarified air of smoking meats cooking right outside the door.
“Back in the day we started with ten different types of custom sandwiches and now it’s grown to twenty. We can seat thirty people here in the deli and have a real nice event we do in the summer called “Party on the Patio” every Friday night. It’s all you can eat barbecue for $10.95 per person and live bands every weekend through the end of September.”
Over the past twenty years of booms and busts in the High Desert, Serbus says they’ve survived by providing a consistent, quality product and excellence in service.
“It was great when the construction boom was going on because we really depended on that trade and we’ve had to diversify to increase business,’ he explained. “We market and sell Bend’s Best BBQ seasoning and rub. My dad was selling that back in Santa Barbara and we’ve been stocking it all along. We’re getting ready to launch a big campaign to sell it in grocery stores and specialty shops in Central Oregon and we’re really excited about that. It’s a Bend product made in Bend.”
For Serbus, the best part of the catering industry is the people.
“I like interacting with the customers and the day-to-day operations,” he said. “Always coming up with new ideas and staying ahead of the competition. We’re looking forward to the start of the summer catering season and launch of the seasoning line in local markets.”
His son, Cody Serbus, was born into the catering business and loves the creativity involved in concocting new sandwiches and specialty dishes.
“My grandpa owned it so serving food to people, carrying on the family tradition and coming up with new recipes makes it fun,” said Cody. “It’s been a part of my life growing up. It’s so great having a deli for every day things and a full catering enterprise to compliment it.
“We can do smoked barbecue for up to five thousand people. We haven’t been topped out yet. It’s great to be a part of this community the last twenty years seeing the business grow and develop. It’s always evolving with the times and the trends. The spice line is coming any time. It can’t get here soon enough. We love being a part of Bend but the nature of our business is that when everyone else is having fun we’re busting our butts.”
Country Catering’s The Deli is located at 900 SE Wilson Avenue and open Tuesday to Friday 6:30am-6pm and Saturday 9am to 4pm. Catering hours are available 24/7. For printable specials coupons or more info contact them at www.bendcatering.com or call 541-383-5014.