Son takes over father's catering company
The love of cooking might be hereditary. Over 35 years ago, Larry Couch founded Peace & Plenty Catering. Now his son, Josh Couch, is taking over as Larry plans for retirement.
On your webpage, it says you bought the Peace & Plenty restaurant after high school and ran it until 1999. What made you change to catering instead of just a restaurant?
Larry: Our winters were so terrible that I had to find something to help the restaurant make it through. So I started catering . . . and that’s where it took off. So in 1979 I started catering and it grew so big, in 1999 I split—sold the restaurant and moved to Jonesboro to just strictly cater. This store has been open since 1999.
Did you always want to join the family business? When did you start getting involved?
Josh: When I was real, real young I would ride to work with Dad to the restaurants. I was washing dishes until I got big enough start working the fryers, and then I cooked chicken in the fryers. Then I went to Indiana University and thought business was going to be my calling, but I always had the food business in the back of my mind, and when the opportunity came for me to come back to work, I ended up doing it.
What values or traditions has your father started at Peace & Plenty that you want to continue?
Josh: Dad’s always insisted on quality and our (staff) really being respectful on the job. That’s one of our biggest compliments: how well-prepared our staff is and how much they help. Anything that’s got to be done, our staff is right on top of it. So he’s really helped me learn how to keep that going.
Why do you enjoy the catering business?
Larry: Food is so rewarding. I kind of went to . . . training with a chef and I just had so much fun. I wrote down everything that he could possibly tell me so I could study it. I took all of his menus and wrote them down, and I’d get excited at night by just going over (them) and I couldn’t wait to try it on my own. I remember trying to make Hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise sauce is a sauce you have to make fresh every time you make it, and there’s a real trick to it because you use eggs, and if the egg gets one second overdone then the whole sauce is thrown away. It’s so neat to be able to do that; it makes you feel good inside.The catering business is rewarding for me. When I do a good job and the people at the job say “Oh, your staff was nice” or “The food was excellent,” that really makes me feel good. That’s a reward that’s better than a tip or anything as far as I’m concerned.
Do you have any advice for students who are still figuring out their careers and what they might want to do after college?
Larry: They really have to want to do a certain job. In my case, I’ve always been food-oriented. I really always wanted to be my own boss, so I worked hard for that goal. I think people ought to look, and really if it’s something they like—and I’m not saying that the first thing they come to is what they’re going to like—but when they find it, they should push for it, because there are no bounds for what you want to do in life.