It wasn’t DeAnna Bailey’s idea to quit her day job and go into business. It was her husband’s dream. But once he launched Bailey Family Catering, she was all in -- all the way ‘til death did them part and beyond.
DeAnna was fine with her job in private duty home care. Ariston was a chef at a rehab center for seniors recovering from surgery. He catered his wedding to DeAnna in September 2013. It was a backyard affair at their home in Blue Ash. He served ribs, chicken, mac and cheese and greens. DeAnna remembers her friends lavishly complimenting the food, telling Ariston he’d be missing a bet if he didn’t pursue a business in food.
He thought about it and thought about it some more. The following April, he began the transition to having his own business. It was slow going at first, DeAnna says, just like anything. “He was hustling five dinners here, 10 dinners there. We did a few Easter dinners that first year.”
Bit by bit by bit, it was looking up. On July 17, 2014, Ariston headed to Findlay Market to get fresh fish for the next day’s order.
“After that, nobody heard from him -- it was like radio silence for five hours,” DeAnna says. “They found him on Central Parkway stopped at a red light. He’d had a pulmonary embolism.”
Bailey Family Catering’s biggest job to that point, a church picnic for 150, was the Sunday after Ariston’s funeral.
“I felt like I couldn’t let anything keep it from happening. It just had to be done. The church offered to let me out of it, but I said no. I couldn’t let Ariston down. I pulled it off, too, with a ton of help from friends and family.”
Two years ago, DeAnna moved the business from her kitchen to Findlay Kitchen. The deal at Findlay Kitchen is, you pay a membership fee and rent kitchen space by the hour. That gets you access to all kinds of commercial cookery and all the licensing and guidance you need to do the job right. The Findlay Kitchen vision is this: “To create a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, spurred by the local food district that is Findlay Market.
This past year, DeAnna says, gross revenues broke six figures.
“So it’s not a bad little business, right? Being here at Findlay Kitchen has opened so many doors I didn’t have before. This place adds legitimacy to whatever you’re doing, because the Findlay corporation has such a great reputation.”
It’s never easy, starting from scratch like the Baileys did.
“Ariston was always the encourager,” DeAnna says. “I hear his voice from time to time when I’m fearful and doubting.”
P.S. DeAnna is launching a heat-and-eat meal service from the lobby of the Scripps Tower at 312 Elm Street shortly after Memorial Day. Grab a dinner and go, basically. For more, check out www.baileyfamilycatering.com.