(Photo above | by Erica Swantek)
For a little over ten years, Twist Cocktail Catering Co. has been serving up Oregon’s finest craft beers, wines and delicious, handmade cocktails at weddings, charity events, corporate gatherings, festivals and private parties. Creating a ‘bar solution’ for any event — Twist is Central Oregon’s most successful beverage catering company, mobile bar service and bartending company. The company’s owner and operator, Stephanie Anderson Stroup sat down with us to tell us why Twist is always the hub of the party.
Where are you from originally and how did you get to Bend?
I grew up in Minnesota and Iowa, finally making my Midwest departure in 1998 after graduating from Iowa State University. At the time, I had a shiny new college degree and an oyster of a world in front of me. I [also]had a long-distance relationship with my husband, a native Oregonian and recent Western Oregon University grad, and it didn’t take much convincing to get me to leave my Midwest roots and head out to the great Pacific NW. With new degrees, no jobs and a spirit of wanderlust, we spent that first summer after college graduation renovating homes together. Once the summer work was completed, we needed a roof over our heads and I remembered Bend being “pretty,” so suggested that we set up shop there and see what happened. Twenty years later and eighteen years of marriage we are still here and loving it.
What is the story behind Twist?
As an active community member, I have always attended a lot of events. There was a theme that kept repeating itself, which was that the bars seemed to always be an afterthought — put together poorly, not well organized, inefficient, understaffed or under supplied. As a guest, it was annoying to stand in line for twenty minutes for a drink, only to be told that they had just run out of ice. I decided that it could be done better. After doing quite a bit of research, talking to my friends in the event industry and taking a big leap of faith, Twist was born in May of 2008. Immediately out of the gates it was evident that Twist was fulfilling a need in the event industry. We’ve been slinging drinks, expanding services and growing ever since.
What are Twist’s key milestones in the past five years?
• We are now proud to employ 18 team members.
• We built Decanter Mobile Tap Room two summers ago as the latest and greatest mobile bar unit out there.
• We have a new appetizer line to add to our services, offering hors d’oeuvres, tapas and light bites for parties and events that want both food and beverage options.
• 2017 was the biggest year on record, and we are looking to surpass that in 2018
• We have a new, gorgeous website that just launched in June.
As a female owned business, what support and resources do you have in Central Oregon that have helped you?
I was a long-standing member in Opportunity Knocks and in a business networking group. Both of those groups helped put me in touch with other professionals that I could kick around ideas or issues with. In addition, the Bend Chamber and the Wedding Professionals Association of Central Oregon are two groups I am still involved in that put me in direct contact with other business owners. Part networking, part idea factory and part support group, all the individuals in these groups have helped point me in good directions.
What nonprofits do you work with?
Many. We love our nonprofits. Healing Reins, Kids Center, Brightside Animal Shelter, Trinity Lutheran School, High Desert Museum and Muse, just to name a few. We have a lot of great options for nonprofits that include profit sharing from their specific fundraisers.
What do you like best about working and living in Central Oregon?
Because we live in such a gorgeous place, it’s fun to be able to flex a work schedule around skiing, biking, hiking, dog walking and gathering with friends. I think small businesses in Central Oregon have set the stage for ‘flexible professionalism’, which to me means that we are always on top of things but sometimes we’re conducting business from the ski lift. I also love the spirit of entrepreneurship that Central Oregon has. Every time we turn a corner we see a new business that is launching. I think that our community is ripe for innovation, invention and experimentation. It makes me feel like our business will be supported regardless of the changes that we are making.
What is new for Twist this coming fall and next year into 2019?
Breaking news. After ten awesomely, profitably years, I have decided to put Twist up for sale. It’s an exciting and terrifying venture, but it’s time that Twist is put into the hands of a new owner that is ready to take our baby to the next level. Twist is systematic, turn-key, and very profitable and has allowed me to love my work and live the Central Oregon life for ten years. I’m excited to turn it over to the next entrepreneur that will expand Twist’s reach and service line. It’s been suggested that we franchise, so perhaps the next person will be the one to make Twist the Pacific NW’s next household name.