by Leslie Feldman
A Glenside-based company opened by two Erdenheim residents in March, 2014, was just selected as the exclusive caterer for the prestigious daily garden teas which service hundreds of ticket holders daily at the heralded Philadelphia Flower Show, March 4 to 13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. No stranger to Chestnut Hill, Seedling & Sage Catering Co. is making quite a name for itself after just a few years in the market. And they are ready to make their mark.
It all started when Melissa Manzo McDevitt, 40, and Laura Halligan Kidwell, 38, met at a neighborhood party a few years ago. They lived only a few streets away from each in Erdenheim but had never met. They had a lot in common and got to chatting about kids and families and their lines of work.
Laura’s family owns Halligan’s Pub, an Irish pub in Flourtown, as well as Flourtown Country Club. Laura’s expertise was in large scale operations, and Melissa’s was in business development and event management, having worked almost a decade at Normandy Farm Hotel in Blue Bell, which hosts dozens of weddings every year.
Both felt there was a niche in the local market for a Farm-To-Table off-premise catering company with rustic-chic style. After putting some feelers out, they garnered a few local leads for the spring party circuit — communions, graduations, etc. They certainly had the experience and had a commercial kitchen; they just didn’t have a company.
Laura’s dad, Joe Halligan, and her brother, Brian, owners of MEH Investments, a real estate investment group, agreed to invest in the business. And, Seedling and Sage was born! “The name Seedling & Sage represents exactly what we were,” explained McDevitt. “Grassroots…a seedling we were planting in hopes for new growth. And sage is not only a delicious herb, but it is also used to cleanse the body and spirit of toxins and replace with purified energies.”
“The initial idea of easing into the market didn’t play out as intended,” added Laura. “We exploded. We moved to two different kitchens in one year because they couldn’t handle our volume. After being open for just under a year, we catered a 500-guest surf and turf dinner for the Cancer Treatment Center of America. That gave us our wings. We were ready to fly.”
The business, located in Glenside, has had clients from Chestnut Hill, Plymouth Meeting, Blue Bell, Doylestown, the Main Line, Conshohocken, Collegeville and New Jersey shore points. During the week Seedling & Sage caters mostly to corporate meetings, but on weekends, you will find the team mostly at farms, barns and arboretums catering weddings and social events. Locally, they work with Awbury Arboretum in Germantown. They were also just named the exclusive caterer for Wyck Historic House in Germantown.
Last month they won the 2016 Wedding Wire Couples Choice award, awarded to just 5% of vendors nationally. And most recently they were selected as the exclusive caterer for the Philadelphia Flower Show Garden Teas, which will serve about 2400 special ticket holders over the course of a week.
Laura and Melissa are certainly not a two-woman show. They recruited powerhouse planners Mary Kate McCottry and Terry Trainer as well as an executive chef, a pastry chef and lots of help in between. Although they are often involved in new business prospecting for sales, courting new venues and honing in on the latest trends, Laura and Melissa also are both raising families. Each mom has three young children.
“Life is crazy, and your schedule is never what you thought it would be, and your day never goes as you planned it, but isn’t that life?” said Melissa. “I thrive on the energy and the momentum of the busy times, so does Laura. At the end of the day, we are teaching our kids about hard work and shooting for the stars. We are two very committed women who do what it takes to balance our personal lives and exceed client expectations.”
Seedling and Sage is located at 102 N. Tyson Ave., Glenside. They can be reached at 215-885-2037 or www.seedlingandsage.com.