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Encapsulating 75 Years into One Event

It was the most unlikely of places to hold an event. The company headquarters. And no, we’re not just referring to the tasting room. The RK Group held an event for Leading Caterers of America (LCA) members throughout their entire complex. The commissary, the storage areas, the 25-bay warehouse, the design studio, the parking lot. 

Why? The RK Group, a one-stop event and hospitality company with 14 specialized divisions, including Rosemary’s Catering, began its 75th year in business the week of November 11, 2021, and the LCA was there to help them celebrate.

An aerial view of The RK group’s 168,000 square-foot facility in San Antonio, TX.

Granted, this is a huge facility (168,000 square feet)—but that makes an event for 130+ even more difficult to pull off. Enormous facility, tiny guest list…how does one make every space look inviting and keep the group together? This was an event solution conundrum to beat all event solutions!

The menu drove the entire night, said Art Menchaca, Director of Business Development for The RK Group. “We showcased a menu that is influenced by the history of San Antonio and Texas, immersing the executives in many of our tried-and-true favorites over our 75-year history.” As such, décor and stations reflected this culinary aesthetic.

“We started out the night with gorditas, sunset margaritas, and ice cold cervezas as the sun set over our city’s skyline,” said Menchaca. 

Handcrafted ice mugs (paired with protective gloves) held cervezas, but the best part: after the liquid was consumed, the “iceware” was placed in the garden to melt down and nourish the plants. Talk about sustainability!

The location? The parking lot, of course! A mariachi band, rope twirler, and a gigantic Texas longhorn named Vegas added to the experience.

Guests then migrated inside to view the “Experience” room. “This is the first impression guests get as they arrive to our facility for a tasting or a consultation for their events,” said Menchaca. In this room, guests enjoyed passed appetizers including Brisket Shishito Rellenos, Lobster Donut Holes, and Quail Bites while viewing various RK tablescapes and glass/china selections.

The kitchen offered two stations, a Grand Paella, and a Texas Tomahawk Taco station. 

“They say everything is bigger in Texas,” said Menchaca, “and this taco station features fresh made tortillas from our tortilla machine that makes up to 900 an hour. We also feature huge bone-in Ribeye Roast which are hand carved onto the warm tortillas and can be topped with an assortment of taco essentials.”

At Uncle Ben’s, a charming break area named after Rosemary’s first establishment (a mom-and-pop Bar B-Q joint) and decorated with memorabilia, LCA members sat at tables and enjoyed avocado ice cream and three types of chili with all of the fixin’s.

Big Texas boots and a photo opportunity on the adjacent saddle made this area a popular one with guests.

The 25-bay warehouse became a pop-up beach bar with a Slash & Burn Redfish station, and icy libations. “With almost 400 miles of coastline,” said Menchaca, “Texas offers a variety of fresh seafood options that we often feature on our menus.”

The event had many other stops and surprise/delights along the way, with large QR codes in front of each division entrance to provide context.

Tour completed and tummy full, guests returned outside to the parking lot and a gorgeous Texas evening, with bonfire pits blazing, full bar, music, an “Ice Fight” and a Kolache station, a food representing the rich history that the German and Czech immigrants brought to San Antonio.

All photos courtesy of The RKD Studio unless otherwise specified.

As the sun set over the city’s skyline, Sunset Margaritas were served, featuring a Chamoy and chili rim with straw enrobed in achiote for extra zest. Note in the background, Vegas the longhorn steer poses for his closeup.

A spirited ice carving competition captivated guests during the last hour of the event.

A 42-inch wide paella pan held a spectacular array of seafood, chicken, pork, and veggies cooked with a flavorful sofrito and saffron-scented rice. Photo courtesy Kathleen Stoehr

Roasted shishito peppers were filled with house-smoked brisket, asadero cheese, and cilantro.

Music coming from the parking lot drew guests outside for kolaches, more libations, and conversation.

That’s one ginormous “standing rib roast”!

At the Slash and Burn station, redfish were rubbed with fresh citrus and spiced dust, then garnished with grilled pineapple pico de gallo and mango chutney, sea salt and vinegar fingerlings, and jicama slaw.

Puffy, toasty tortillas rolled off the machine and into a waiting pan, to be grabbed as soon as a Tomahawk taco was requested. Over 900 taco disks can be made in one hour. Photo courtesy Kathleen Stoehr

In the RDK Studio, a “scientist” concocted laboratory tubes filled with names lifted from the graphic design aesthetic, such as CMYK Yellow and Ink Blot Strawberry Watermelon.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource and Special Events magazines, including all digital content for both websites and e-newsletter products. She also vets, hires, guides and coordinates all live education at Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, Art of Catering Food, Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit, and bridge content at The Special Event.