Mesa caterer’s deal helps healthcare workers The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa caterer’s deal helps healthcare workers

Mesa caterer’s deal helps healthcare workers

By Paul Maryniak
Tribune Executive Editor

With two of the biggest holidays on the horizon and a crisis that puts many healthcare workers in almost constant danger, Sue Carlisle has come up with a deal.

That the deal also helps her Mesa catering business – also a victim of the social distancing crisis triggered by COVID-19 – is a win-win-win.

For more than six years, Carlisle has owned and operated Straight to the Plate at 500 W. Southern Ave., which caters weddings, corporate meetings, celebrations and galas – in other words, events basically prohibited under guidelines restricting public gatherings to no more than 10 people.

So, she’s offering a deal that she hopes will keep her business breathing for a while, help people who still will celebrate Easter and Passover in this dark time and show some love for healthcare professionals.

Anyone who gives her a six-person order for Easter brunch or dinner or kosher-style Passover feast can also order and pay for a dinner for six for frontline healthcare workers. 

Peoples can pick up their own meals curbside on the day they desire.

“For the frontline professional healthcare workers, we will be in touch with East Valley hospitals to see what the best way will be to handle the meals,” Carlisle said, saying she’ll either arrange a possible drop-off of heated meals or arrange for a pickup by the beneficiaries of the customers’ charitable act.

“We also request and are hopeful that corporations as well as individuals will step forward and order meals for the healthcare professionals that are protecting us and our families,” Carlisle said.

Straight to the Plate has received recognition over the years for its customized menus overseen by an executive chef.

Her menus for six people for the upcoming holidays include items such as crustless Mediterranean quiche and baked French toast for brunch while Passover and Easter meals include salmon, beef brisket or ham as an entrée. Both the brunch and the two meal packages also include a number of side dishes. Prices start at $95 for brunch and $125 for the dinners and the packages include instructions for heating the chilled items.

Carlisle and her husband Brett started Straight to the Plate after another economic catastrophe – the Great Recession of 2008.

“Our previous business, Entrees Made Easy, which was a meal prep business tanked when the economy collapsed in 2008,” she said.

“Somebody said, ‘You have two chaffing dishes; why don’t you start a catering company?’” she recalled.

“We had no money, so we got out our four-ingredient cookbook for recipes. Then we asked our friends to confidentially taste and rate our first 25 recipes as ‘It’s a Winner!’  ‘I’ll have seconds please.’ ‘Ok, but nothing to talk about’ and ‘Please don’t serve this.’”

After settling on the recipes that made the first two categories, they started Straight to the Plate and now have three full-time employees and 15 part-timers “during our season” – which, as with many businesses that thrive during Arizona’s tourist season, has felt the hammer of the coronavirus and efforts to reduce its spread.

They chose the name for their business “to bring families together,” Sue explained, noting she and Brett “worked in corporate previously and did not see our kids enough because of long hours or business traveling. 

“So, we thought Straight to the Plate implies bringing families together, from our family to yours.”

With a daughter in college and a son in high school, the Carlisles have felt the impact of social distancing regulations just as hard as restaurants and other small businesses.

“Normally our off-season is Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Sue said. “So, we have lost virtually all of March and all of April and May of weddings, social events, non-profits, grand openings, etc.

“Due to a great January and February, we have not had to lay off or furlough our full-time employees and we would prefer not to,” she added. “We are evaluating this, every pay period.”

She added, “We are hopeful we can furnish many meals. 

“We believe we can bring families together during this time, thank the frontline healthcare professionals and give our team something positive to hold on to.”

People can order at or at γ

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