In the wake of Beau Bennett’s death, the Beau Catering team leaned on one another, determined to provide his same level of enthusiasm
By Ben Crosbie | Photography by John Michael Simpson
When asked about the most salient trait of her late husband, Lauren Erickson Bennett didn’t hesitate for a moment. “Largest personality,” she says. “Huge personality. He was a show in and of himself.”
After Beau Bennett’s untimely death from an intracranial brain hemorrhage at the age of 45 last October, Lauren affirmed that the most important way to honor and preserve his legacy was to simply “keep the passion going” when it came to his catering company, Beau Catering.
Lauren, who also runs her own financial planning company, Erickson Advisors, has had to take on a much larger role with Beau Catering at a time when events are roaring back onto calendars. Through every busy day, Lauren continues to emphasize the importance of maintaining Beau’s level of infectious energy and treating clients the way he did.
“He would bring the excitement level way up,” she says. “Continuing to engage with the customer that way is really important. Otherwise it’s just food, without the personal connection and attention.”
Beau Catering started doing business in the area in 2009 and has been based at the Piedmont Food Processing Center in Hillsborough since 2011. Settling in a permanent location there allowed the company to grow considerably after they had been forced to operate “wherever [they] could find a place to cook” for the first few years of existence. The reputation that Beau Catering built in the area’s food scene paid off when The Colonial Inn reached out in 2019; Beau’s team has been providing Sunday brunch at the reopened inn ever since. The menu heavily features traditional Southern dishes such as fried chicken, sweet potato hash and shrimp and grits, all adapted with Beau’s personal twists.
Even in the immediate aftermath of Beau’s death, when the company gave employees the option to go home and recover on their own time, “everyone chose to stay, and everyone showed up every single day,” says Katie Hopkins, the company’s general manager. Beau died on a Friday, and the company had three weddings scheduled for that weekend.
“It made everybody want to work harder and be part of it even more, which I think is really special,” Lauren says of the team’s perseverance and determination. “It’s really a testament in my mind to what Beau put out into the company and to the clients and team.”
Still reeling, the team successfully catered all three events that weekend, receiving positive reviews for each one. In fact, nothing was ever canceled or rescheduled in the wake of Beau’s passing, and Lauren is proud of how the team made sure that clients who were unaware of the loss wouldn’t have noticed a difference.
“Obviously it’s their job and their career, but I don’t think that’s what was pushing them,” she says. “They absolutely rallied around [one another].”
Though it’ll never be the same without the man himself presiding with the passion and zeal that won over customers and employees alike, Beau’s enthusiasm remains alive in the energetic pulse of the company he nurtured.
“That, I think, says a lot about how he ran this company and how he treated his team,” Lauren says. “That’s always been important to Beau, that’s always been important in our office, so keeping that going is [a] priority.”