by Len Lear
“We’re excited for Herb Scott and his staff to celebrate 20 years of successful catering business; it’s very well deserved. His team is always punctual and efficient, his staff is extremely friendly, and probably most importantly, the food is delicious. We have used Herb Scott Catering for a number of our fundraiser events, and it’s always been good, but people are still talking about the sautéed chicken with dijon cream sauce from our 2016 Gala. And Herb has always been … a great member of the Mt. Airy community.” – Brad Copeland, Executive Director, Mt. Airy Community Development Corp.
For several years, Herb Scott, now 54, waited on tables and checked coats for his dad’s restaurant, Colony Park Inn, at Germantown Avenue and School House Lane, until the restaurant went out of business in 1984. The day after Colony Park Inn closed, Scott answered an ad from The Commissary, owned by former long-time Chestnut Hill resident Steve Poses, who helped usher in the city’s Restaurant Renaissance in the late 1960s, and got himself a catering job.
“I think my dad, Herbert Augustus Scott, was the greatest guy in the world,” said Scott, “and Steve Poses reminded me very much of my dad. He was always warm, knowledgeable and helpful. I got the greatest education from him about every aspect of the catering business. He reinforced what my father instilled in me, that success is possible only through skill, hard work, professionalism and personal integrity.
“Poses’ assistant, Don Falconio, also taught me a great deal about the ‘front of the house.’ One thing he taught me is that honest work is never demeaning. He was a vice president of the company, but at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday he’d get down on his hands and knees to clean the floors after a job was done. He taught the value of hard work by setting a good example.”
Scott, who attended Faith Tabernacle School, a private school affiliated with his church, worked for Poses for four years, but at the same time he began to travel with the wrong crowd.
“I left my religion for several years, and that was a terrible mistake,” he declared. “I let praise go to my head, and I began thinking I was more than I really was. In fact, I basically wasted eight years until the age of 30.”
At that point, Scott’s dad unexpectedly died, which had a life-transforming effect upon him.
“I was ashamed because I was not living the way my dad had taught me,” Scott revealed with unusual candor. “I stopped traveling in the wrong crowd, and I got back to my religious roots. I got back to being honest and doing the right thing. As a result, I’m much happier now and can be of more service to people.”
For five years, Scott worked for the Wood Corporation, a corporate food supplier in Allentown, but he then decided in 1999 to go into business for himself. So he moved back to Mt. Airy and began soliciting individuals and companies for catering services. He started handing out flyers on the street and going door-to-door to hand out literature. His business was then called Your Personal Chef.
“Many people in Chestnut Hill would not open their doors when they saw my face,” Scott recalled, “and many people would lock their car doors as soon as I approached them, although I was well dressed. It hurt very badly because it was so obviously racial, and I had never experienced that before. I had nothing but rejection for several weeks, and I was on the verge of giving up.
“Then I prayed for guidance, though, and right after I prayed I went home and found a call on my machine. It was from a Chestnut Hill resident who said she wanted me to cook weekly meals for her family. I was so thrilled that I began making the meals for her right away (four dinners a week for four people each).”
Scott had promoted his weekly meals because he thought the catering field was already over-saturated. Since fewer people are preparing meals at home from scratch than ever before, Scott surmised that his best chance of success was with the weekly meals program for area families.
After word-of-mouth began to circulate, however, catering jobs also materialized. For example, he was hired to cater a party for the African American History Museum.
“I was told there would be 60 people,” he said, “so I prepared food for 150 to be on the safe side. Caterers often run out of food because too many people show up. I thought I was in great shape, but guess what! Over 200 people showed up. It was very scary, but somehow, the guests all wound up with enough food.”
Over the last 20 years, most jobs have come by word-of-mouth. He has catered events for such major clients as PECO, Greene Street Friends School, Germantown Friends School, American Red Cross, PA Academy of Fine Arts, Arcadia University, Banana Republic, Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University, Verizon, United Way of Greater Pennsylvania and many more.
In 2014, Scott also initiated a choo-choo train that he calls “Lil & Roy’s BBQ Smoker.” He has done more than 50 jobs with the train, which he now uses all year long.
“It looks beautiful in the snow,” he insists.
In July of 1998, Scott was married to a teacher at the Faith Tabernacle Baptist School who has been an anchor of support.
“Laurie [his wife] would be typing menus until 3 a.m., even though she’d have to get up at 5 a.m.,” said Scott. “No one else would have said yes to me. I wouldn’t even have said yes to me.”
The Scotts have three children – Lily, 19, Royal, 17, and Ian, 15.
Herb Scott Catering is located at 6531 Germantown Ave. More information at 215-842-1609, firstname.lastname@example.org or his website.