Mazzone Hospitality has acquired longtime competitor Classé Catering in a merger that creates the single largest catering entity in the Capital Region.
The two companies have been friendly competitors over the years, with their own specializations and clientele. Management actually met about three years ago to discuss a possible merger, but the talks went stale. They didn’t pick up again until about four months ago.
“There are different life cycles in the business,” said Matt Mazzone, chief financial officer at Mazzone Hospitality. “It just got to the point where all the stars aligned and we identified what they had going on in their organization and we wanted them to be a part of us. It just worked perfectly now.”
Mazzone Hospitality, based out of the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia, owns several restaurants and banquet halls. It provides catering services for weddings, fund raisers and social events and at venues like the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs and Key Hall at Proctors in Schenectady through its Mansion Catering division.
Classé Catering specialized only in off-premise events — at homes, mansions, museums and other properties. It has gained acclaim throughout the region since 1993, when president and founder Brian Palazzolo opened his Colonie production facility. The facility at 2 Petra Lane will remain open as a second location for the merged company, which now employs more than 800 full- and part-time employees.
“The timing was great in the sense that they were interested in growing their off-site catering division and gaining market share, and obviously we were the largest player in that market,” said Palazzolo from his Colonie facility Wednesday morning.
Palazzolo, who relinquished his title to serve as consultant and client liaison to the new operation, said that when venues issue a list of preferred caterers, both Mazzone and Classé were always at the top. In fact, he said, together they made up about 80 percent of booking schedules in the area.
“Brian was definitely our biggest competitor in the catering space,” said Mazzone. “So this gives us this great ability to be the leader in the catering landscape and bring all the talents and what they have to bring to the business.”
Company officials expect the new operation to generate more than $33 million in annual revenue. Mazzone Hospitality will serve as the parent company to the merged organization, which will retain the Classé Catering name for the time being.
“At this point, Classé has so much name behind it that we want to continue to grow and develop that brand,” said Mazzone.
Mazzone Hospitality will still maintain and operate its Mansion Catering brand as its own division. All of its off-site catering services will merge with Classé Catering.
“I mean, we just closed on this thing and so eventually we’re going to have to decide what is the best strategy for the overall company,” said Mazzone. “At this point, we are going to maintain both brands and the promises that we made to both brands.”
Mazzone Hospitality Chief Operating Officer Sean Willcoxon will manage operations at the Colonie production facility. On Wednesday, executive chefs from both businesses were going over a menu for an upcoming event.
For clients, the merger will be a seamless transition, said Palazzolo.
“It wasn’t really like merging apples and oranges,” he said. “We’re able to cross-utilize staff and be fluid and versatile now.”