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Duos Company

Catering for everyone

Josh Cooper and Ben Jury didn't start out with the goal of becoming caterers. Ben was a real estate appraiser and Josh  cooked as a hobby. Yet they've ended up as caterers with a loyal support base and the concept that everyone should be able to afford catering. "Everyone should be able to enjoy quality food, service and a memorable experience," says Josh.

Josh (left), and Ben

After the economic crash of 2008, people weren't buying, so Ben had less work in appraisals. Josh wasn't working at all. A friend of Josh's had booked a caterer for an event and they had to cancel. He asked Josh if he'd do the food. Of course! Another job followed, and the idea of catering really took hold. "From 2010 to 2012, we didn't have a kitchen of our own, we shared a commissary space," says Ben. "When we started, the law required you to have a restaurant license to sell liquor, which we wanted to do as part of our catering. In 2012, we got our own place, The Lounge Restaurant in West Seattle, and had Duos Lounge. Having the storefront propelled the catering. People were able to come in, taste the food, and find out about us. Ultimately, we couldn't handle both. The laws changed, so we closed the restaurant in 2014 and went 100% with catering with Duos Catering." Josh adds, "Having a restaurant is harder than catering, plus catering is more lucrative, so although we liked the restaurant, it was the choice we had to make. We still open The Lounge for happy hour and our customers are so supportive."

Later in 2014, they opened an event venue, The Lounge, a rustic yet modern space with lounge furniture, wood slab bar top, and intimate lighting in an open concept. In 2015, they started Sip + Bar Service, their liquid catering arm. In 2016, they purchased A Grand Affaire Catering from Monica Newby who had owned it for 18 years. She still works with Josh and Ben. In 2017, The Sanctuary venue opened (photo above). It is a church built in 1929 with three levels and an outside courtyard. And on March 17, 2018, they opened Brother Joe in Georgetown, a restaurant/venue offering "truly great coffee," weekday breakfast and lunch, and weekend brunch. In the evening it is a smaller, eclectic venue space, perfect for pop-up chefs, private and corporate parties "And children's birthdays," laughs Josh. "It's a great location with lots of foot traffic-there's a lot happening in the evenings in Georgetown." Duos, A Grand Affaire, and Sip cater to all three venues. All are full service, and if they don't do something themselves (flowers) they have resources they can refer people to or, in some cases, be the go-between for the client.

The beauty of having two catering arms (Duos and A Grand Affaire) is that they can offer the same high standards of service and quality of food, with different experiences. "Duos has a more progressive style," explains Josh. "Composed plates, plated meals, presentation that lends itself to high-end clients, corporate and private. A Grand Affaire is more traditional foods, with classic interpretation, that are less intricate, and therefore more value oriented. A Grand Affaire does a lot of weddings. "With our vision of everyone being able to afford quality food and service, it made sense to expand," says Josh. "We want our guests to have one-stop shopping in terms of services, and a choice of experiences with different venues and food styles. We also expanded to give our employees a way to grow and stay with us."

As with any business, the staff can make or break an event. "We're pretty relaxed and tell everyone not to take life too seriously," says Josh. "If we take care of our staff members and they're happy, the guests will be happy. And if the guests are happy, we'll be happy. It's worked so far. We've kept the same chefs and front of house staff from day 1. We pay more than the industry standard, and don't work holidays. We close from Christmas through January 2 because we know family is important to all of us."

As business has grown, their roles have changed. "When you start out, you do everything," laughs Ben. "I've always done sales, bookkeeping, paperwork. At the original restaurant, I was the GM and I do that at Brother Joe now. Officially, I'm now the Director of Catering, but oversee three event planners. Stayce Cooper, Josh's sister, is taking over the sales portion for events/venues." Stayce worked for 21 years in the office at Salty's on Alki. Josh still creates the menus, refines dishes, and teaches chefs, but he rarely cooks for guests anymore. He is also the Creative Director, working on the graphic side of menus, marketing items, and websites.

As for the future, Josh says, "There may be more Brother Joe locations in the future; we like the concept. Catering-wise, we're finetuning what we do so we're a well-oiled machine. We want our guests' experience to be seamless and it's something you have to work on all the time, always remembering our ultimate goal of quality food, service, and experience."

Duos Company


The Lounge
2940 SW Avalon Way
Seattle, WA 98126

Sanctuary at Admiral
2656 42nd Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

Brother Joe
5629 Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108

Connie Adams/July 2018

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