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A ‘Roundabout’ way of doing business

Duane Johnson
djohnson@nnbw.biz
Colin Smith stands outside his Roundabout Catering facility, a venture he operates with his wife MaryBeth.
PHOTO BY ANNIE CONWAY |

In the summer of 2007, MaryBeth Smith was in the process of launching a gourmet-style grocery market in the heart of Town Square in Somersett in northwest Reno. A member of her staff had met and brought in Colin Smith, a veteran of the food and beverage industry to consult on the new business.

The encounter would ultimately change their lives both personally and professionally and began an evolution of what would become Roundabout Catering & Party Rentals.

MaryBeth Smith had spent more than two decades working in the nursing and sales fields. But she was a relative novice to the restaurant business. Colin Smith had practically grown up in the catering industry from the age of 14, and MaryBeth soon recognized she needed his expertise to get the business off the ground.



“MaryBeth had started the gourmet grocery-style market in Somersett and they needed someone with food and beverage experience so that’s where I came in,” Colin said.

That connection also extended beyond business.



“We started the business on July 1, 2007 and we got married in October of 2007,” MaryBeth said.

The gourmet market the Smiths developed in Somersett soon morphed into other services including a restaurant-deli, then a full restaurant along with the grocery market. They also had offered catering services, playing off of Colin’s many years of experience. The couple found themselves dabbling deeper into the catering sector and with the downturn in the economy, they turned their attention solely to catering, and Roundabout was born.

“MaryBeth and I looked at the numbers and we decided we should make the catering our business.” Colin said. So they closed their restaurant and launched Roundabout in 2010. The company has seen double-digit growth year-after-year. (They chose the name from the now-familiar roadway intersection that has become a staple in the Somersett area)

The couple eventually moved their business to an 11,000-square-foot location on Dunn Circle in Sparks in 2014.

Two years ago they also bought a rental company with a huge inventory of event- and party-related equipment to augment their catering business. It allows them to offer a complete one-stop shop of catering services, everything from food and beverage preparation along with dishware, table, chair and tent rentals as well as party decorations. They also hold a liquor license, allowing them to serve alcoholic beverages at events.

They have catered for small events such as cocktail parties or weddings to some major special events such as the Reno-Tahoe Open (now Barracuda Championship) golf tournament. This will mark the third consecutive season Roundabout was the official caterer and just renewed a contract for two more years.

Sometimes Roundabout, which has 22-24 full-time employees, will have 60 to 80 full- and part-time staff members working at an event.

In addition, Roundabout expanded its services by launching a pair of packaged meal plans called Gym Rat and the Caveman Cuisine. Both are geared for those who are serious about physical fitness or interested in healthy eating or losing weight.

Colin and his team of chefs prepare all food for events and meal plans from scratch at the company’s large kitchen.

People can sign up for the plans at the company’s Web site. They also can have the packaged meals either delivered to them or pick them up themselves.

They also have been marketing meal programs to gyms or health clubs and area schools.

They’ve nailed down daily lunch contracts for schools such as Bishop Manogue and Sageridge high schools and Little Flower School.

“This company has a lot of arms. It’s almost like an octopus,” Colin said. “It’s a unique environment. We do have the wingspan to do a lot of things.”

While the company has seen healthy growth over the years, the Smiths have adhered to one philosophy on operating their venture: avoid debt. Other than the building they are paying off, the Smiths have made an effort to pay cash for purchases and everyday expenses, avoiding using credit unless it is necessary.

“We have a cost model. We pay for things and don’t carry debt,” MaryBeth said.

One reason the Smiths feel they been able to adhere to their philosophy is that MaryBeth still works as a sales executive. This allows the couple to have another source of income for their business. While MaryBeth mostly takes care of the business side, Colin concentrates on the day-to-day operations.

While it does create a hectic schedule for the couple, they have found time to relax and get away from work. They try to designate Sundays as a work-free day.

They’ve also been conscious of reinvesting in the business, especially the employees. All employees, for instance, are trained under Colin’s tutelage and food is prepared one way.

They even provide some perks, such as a small gym in the back of the facility and meals for employees while at work.

“We have reinvested in our own success and invested in our people,” MaryBeth said.