Booths lining the aisles of the Mississippi Trade Mart and awards programs that recognize the best of Mississippi’s business community have long been trademarks of the Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO.
But what ties all those things together is the food and drink.
EXPO will again be catered by Mangia Bene Inc, which owns and operates Bravo! Italian Restaurant and Bar, Broad Street Baking Company and Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint in Jackson.
Last year was the first year Mangia Bene had catered the event stem to stern and provided the refreshments for the Business After Hours cocktail social.
Jeff Good, head of Mangia Bene and owner of the three restaurants, sees his company’s partnership with EXPO as one that makes a lot of sense.
“(EXPO organizers) are easy to work with,” Good said. “They know what they need and are very well organized. This makes it easier for a caterer to do their job.”
Good and his team had been involved in EXPO for a number of years, catering portions of the event, but last year marked the first time Mangia Bene handled the entire operation for both days.
What made it challenging is the lack of a kitchen facility in the Mississippi Trade Mart. That meant a lot of the food had to be prepared off-site and transported to the Trade Mart, which can present some logistical hurdles simply because of the amount involved.
According to Good, though, everything went off without a hitch.
“We may be a little biased, but we think things went very well last year,” he said. “One of the blessings of having our catering business is our ability to pull from three distinct kitchens and staffs to orchestrate large off-site events. The saying is many hands make light work, and our business model proves that.”
A seamless operation that produces a palette-pleasing result for EXPO attendees is exactly what Good expects from his team this year. And if participants think they’re somewhere else once it comes to eat, that’s fine, too.
“Once again it is our goal to provide two really exceptional lunches with really high-end food for a seated banquet event,” Good said. “We think the guests will think they are sitting at a table in BRAVO! The (Best Places to Work Kickoff) breakfast will be fresh and bountiful and speedy.”
The idea of EXPO is for lots of businesses to gather in the same place, exchange ideas, network, advertise, market and learn. And just because Good and his team will be working the event, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some of the same results.
“The EXPO is the premier business-to-business networking event in the state,” Good said. “To be asked to serve at the awards banquets for this two-day extravaganza is an honor, and it helps introduce our capabilities to many key decision makers… men and women who later on may contact us for catering an event for them.”
“Jeff and his staff did an awesome job for us last year and we expect nothing less this year,” said Ashley Varnes, account executive at the Mississippi Business Journal. “His track record speaks for itself.”