Charleston’s oldest locally-owned catering company turns 40

Hamby Catering Owner Candice Wigfield and Founder Fran Hamby

Hamby Catering & Events, Charleston’s oldest locally-owned catering company, is celebrating its 40th year of business in 2019. The company is known for its innovative Southern-inspired cuisine and grab-and-go menu offerings at its retail store, The Market at Hamby, located at 925 St. Andrews Boulevard.

To commemorate this milestone and thank the community for 40 years of patronage, Hamby Catering is offering a month-long promotion at The Market at Hamby. A new special will be offered each week of September. For a full list of promotions, visit https://hambycatering.com/celebrating-our-40th-birthday-with-a-month-of-specials/.

“We are so grateful for the community’s support of Hamby Catering for the past 40 years,” said Candice Wigfield, President of Hamby Catering. “Our clients have made us a part of their family traditions, and we wanted this anniversary to be about celebrating and thanking them.”

Hamby Catering has had the privilege of catering Charlestonians’ biggest life moments, for everything from baby showers, engagement parties and weddings to anniversary celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners and funerals. The business has transcended family meal time and found a distinguished place in the world of event and corporate catering. The company has worked with corporate clients and events of all sizes, including Volvo Car Open, Boeing, Carolina One Real Estate, Spoleto Festival, Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, MUSC, Roper Saint Francis and Mercedes. Hamby Catering has also served a number of notable dinner guests, including Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and six U.S. Presidents, from the Carter to the Obama administration.

South Carolina native Fran Hamby founded Hamby Catering in 1979 when she helped cater a family friend’s 400-person wedding reception. After the event, word quickly spread across the Lowcountry about Hamby’s cooking and the demand led Hamby and her husband to found Hamby Catering.

“I didn't originally set out to become a business owner, but we quickly began booking weddings and cocktail parties and eventually we had to move Hamby Catering into its own space in West Ashley to accommodate the growing business,” said Hamby. “Back then, we were known for my sandwiches, shrimp and tenderloin. It's amazing to see how far Hamby Catering has come in all of these years, from expanded menu offerings to huge catered events, and what is still yet to come!”

The team continues to build on Hamby’s roots and take the company into the future with new culinary ideas and opportunities. The company’s tried and true classics remain, but custom approaches, healthier options and a grab-and-go menu at The Market at Hamby have kept the company on the cutting edge of the industry. To share these unique approaches, the Hamby team has been invited to host a seminar at Catersource, the largest confluence of catering and event professionals in the U.S., for the past two years.

In 2017, after holding various roles within the company for seven years, Candice Wigfield stepped in to oversee all operations as the new President and Owner of Hamby Catering. Wigfield convinced her father, Wayne Culbertson, to come out of retirement to join her as Co-Owner and COO of the company. Prior to Hamby, Culbertson was with Michelin Tire Company for 42 years, most recently as Managing Director for Michelin UK and the Nordic countries.

The duo marks the second multi-generational ownership team for Hamby Catering and continues to uphold the company’s values of integrity, family, community, sustainability, quality and tradition. The family-oriented culture remains at the core of the company's success and time-treasured recipes.

Wigfield is especially proud that Hamby Catering is a female-founded, female-owned company. She has cultivated a company culture where women are empowered to fill leadership roles and pursue opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

“I’m incredibly honored to lead the talented team at Hamby Catering,” said Wigfield. “Mrs. Hamby was a trailblazer for her generation and her recipes are still beloved by the Charleston community. Every day, we strive to cultivate top talent, expand our offerings and build meaningful partnerships to continue the legacy that Mrs. Hamby built here in the Lowcountry.”

Wigfield’s vision for the future includes Hamby Catering continuing its reputation as the Southeast’s leading caterer. She also plans to expand offerings at the retail location and for the company to become the “caterer of record” for more large-scale events in the Southeast. Most importantly, she is committed to investing in the community that has invested in Hamby Catering for the past 40 years.

“I could never have imagined the future of Hamby Catering when it humbly began 40 years ago,” said Hamby. “Forty years later, I'm so proud of what has become of Hamby Catering and know that the company is in great hands.”