Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaina Vazquez.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I concepted Boutique Bites in 2008 while working at Joel Robuchon restaurant in Las Vegas. I started cooking professionally at the age of 17, and after high school went to culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America. After working in restaurant kitchens for about 5 years, I knew I was ready to take on a different challenge within the same industry. Up until that point, I had only worked in fine dining restaurants, so starting a catering company felt like a natural progression.
I started Boutique Bites as a way to bring customized, high-end food to catered parties. It was definitely difficult in the beginning, as I was the only employee for about 2 years. But once I built my first professional kitchen, we started to grow pretty quickly. In 2014 I built-out and moved the company to our current location – an 8,000 square foot loft warehouse space in the West Loop. We have a venue onsite called BRIQUE that can hold 150 guests seated with a dance floor and about 200 guests cocktail style. Next year we will celebrate 10 years in business and I couldn’t feel happier or more accomplished by what my team and I have created.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has and it hasn’t been a smooth road. I mean, we’ve had 9 years of ups and downs. The biggest challenge that we face every 2 to 3 years, essentially, is growth. We are a small, boutique company but the demand has grown for our product and service over the years. So while business was slow in the beginning, or we may still have certain slower months, deciding when to take the next logical growth step is probably the struggle we face most consistently. This includes when to add new team members when to purchase another company vehicle when to invest in owning certain item that we normally rent, and the list goes on. We’ve done a good job of being able to reach a wider client base year over year while still maintaining our signature customized quality.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Boutique Bites – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I describe Boutique Bites as a creative and custom catering and events company specializing in the mix of stylish food and exceptional presentation. We have become known for our “stylish minis” – cheeseburgers the size of a quarter, the smallest Chicago-style hotdog you’ve ever eaten, tiny lobster tacos, etc; but I like to point out that we also do “full size” food – plated dinners, food stations, progressive small plates.
Since I am a classically trained chef, I started my business from a culinary standpoint, and we have never wavered from that. The food is always the most important component. I have always been obsessed with small details and really appreciate when something is done very well. That’s what we aim to deliver consistently – amazing food + insane attention to detail.
I am most proud of building my venue BRIQUE. It was truly a labor of love and I’m so happy every day when I walk in the front door. I absolutely love the space and I feel so fortunate that the design and aesthetic has resonated with so many people and that we are booking the space constantly.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the food in Chicago. There are so many amazing restaurants at all different price points. I consistently have a list of places to check out. Sunday brunch is my favorite meal of the week. It’s so satisfying after a long weekend working. I also love the neighborhood feel of this city. West Loop, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Wicker Park – they all feel so different and have so much to offer.
What I like the least about our city is the traffic and constant construction in certain neighborhoods. My business is in the West Loop and it seems like there is always a street torn up in the area. Definitely makes it difficult for traveling to our events.
- Address: 224 N. Ada St.
Chicago, IL 60607
- Website: www.boutiquebites.com
- Phone: 7733133211
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jai Gerard Photography
Natalie Probst Photography
Emilia Jane Photography
Jorge Gera Photography
Headshot – Kina Wicks Photography