Turning A Party Into An Experience

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - June 07, 2006
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For Mike Rabe, creativity is key for successful event planning
For Mike Rabe, creativity is key for successful event

While some people can barely microwave a meal, Mike Rabe of Creations in Catering can whip up a fancy dinner for an intimate party of 12 at a private home, or feed more than 1,300 people in two ballrooms at his Dole Cannery location.

“We can create theme parties, like a castle theme,” says Rabe with a smile. “And we can provide all the table linens, decorations, the lighting, and we have our own in-house video presentations.”

The cheerful entrepreneur brings back a service he offered about 10 years ago called Picnics in Paradise. Back then he not only barbecued the food for the picnic, he included a shave-ice booth, games, bounce houses and dunk tanks.

“In those days, that was something different for a catering company to do,” he notes. “We’re bringing back the Picnics in Paradise concept for companies and groups so they can have a fabulous event. When firms have a picnic with our decorations and food and fun themes, it’s a great motivating factor - and it makes their workers feel so appreciated. They look forward to the next time. It’s not just a party, it’s a bit of you, and it’s an experience they can remember you by. And they’ll be talking about it for a while.”

With 50 full-time employees, Rabe can transform a park into living room and he can create a unique atmosphere with tents that include walkways, flooring and track lighting.

He says one of his challenges is to stay on the edge of special events. To keep up with the times, he studies his craft. He attends conventions and belongs to several national organizations in his field. The International Special Events Society, which has 4,000 members, will hold a convention at the Sheraton Waikiki Aug. 24-26 - and Rabe will be attending. He says he’ll be throwing a grand party to showcase his expertise for his friends who are fellow event planners.

One of the ways he stays on the cutting edge is to encourage young talent into what he calls the newest and fastest growing field of special events planners. Each semester the Farrington grad speaks at his other alma mater: the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management. He also offers internships to create interest in the business.

Recently Rabe, a Kaimuki resident, won the Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Filipino Chamber of Commerce for his innovation, profitability, growth and community service. The company also garnered several awards at past Taste of Honolulu events. One of their prestigious honors is the Best Off-Premise Catering Event award from the National Association of Catering Executives.

Rabe worked in the Hyatt food and beverage department before he became part of a team in 1985 that saw the need for upscale plate lunches that were sold from Chubby Q’s (charbroiled barbecue) at Varsity Center across from Puck’s Alley and at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Known for its Chubby Q’s chicken, the company started getting catering orders, which eventually became the main business as they shut down the restaurants. Since 2003, they’ve been based at Dole Cannery.

Rabe says what he loves best about this business is the instant gratification when people tell you how it is going.

“We have a passion and a joy for our creativity and we’re excited about bringing in fresh talent that touches every part of the arts,” he says. “It can be one of the catalysts to drive the Hawaii economy. We offer the aloha spirit in the service industry by offering food and multi-cultural events.”

For more information on Creations in Catering, call 521-7101 or log onto www.hawaiicaterers.com

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