Following a late July 1986 night out at the then-thriving and popular Grand Bay Hotel Coconut Grove, friends Elizabeth Silverman and Marilyn McSwiggan-Nolan chose to embrace a mutual transition in their lives, so they quit their respective nine-to-five jobs to follow an entrepreneurial chef’s dream.
Silverman bought a double oven stove and the ladies set up kitchen on a shoestring budget in an office-industrial area near Coral Gables High School and Catering by Lovables was born. On July 6 they celebrated their 29th anniversary at their business headquarters now located near downtown Miami.
“We were 80 percent corporate and 20 percent social in the early days,” said Silverman. “Our clients were lawyers or architects hosting a meeting of their peers or a local chamber event and we would bring breakfast or lunch.” Dominique Boutique in Coral Gables and the Coalition of Hispanic American Women were among their first clients. Today’s client roster reads like a Miami’s Who’s Who. Lovables catered Gloria and Emilio Estefan events before the family opened Lario’s Restaurant. Just one memorable story is about the lucky Lovables staffer who applied suntan lotion to the rock star when they catered an Estefan pool party many years ago.
“They put their pants on one leg at a time,” says a pragmatic Silverman as she talks about preparing parties for such big names as Justin Bieber and Rihanna.
Lovables catered the Latin American Music Awards for many years and they were the go to girls for feeding hungry fans at Super Bowl beach parties. Today, with gigs for Live Nation at venues like The Fillmore or the Miami Beach Convention Center, and New World Symphony galas, they say business has done a 180 at 75 percent social and 25 percent corporate.
Sponsoring charitable organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the National Young Arts Foundation is an important part of their work today as well.
“We don’t spend any money on advertising, we would rather put food in people’s mouths, so this is our way of giving back,” says Silverman.
“All we have is our good name and our loyal base.
“What sets us apart as a business is Marilyn and I are right there in the trenches with our clients. We are very hands on, filling water glasses, cleaning dishes. One of our tag lines is ‘we allow you to be a guest at your own party.’”
Lovables, 244 SW 24 ROAD, survived Miami’s economic shift from ‘80s extravagances to today’s emailed menu requests that include gluten-free entree preferences and choices for the vegan, vegetarian, raw foodie or piscatorial at the party.
“We make sure everyone is taken care of and of course those meals are cooked separately,” said Silverman. “For gluten free, it is simple; we just use a corn starch instead of a flour base.”
Famous signature dishes from Lovables include Lemon Shrimp, Mango Bread and chocolate chip cookies.
“When we cater a party and guests are happy to have you there, and you hear comments like, ‘Oh, it’s the Lemon Shrimp! It must be Lovables.’ That is just a great feeling. To go to bed at night and know you did the best you could is what this is all about.”