While the owners of Mountain Laurel Catering strive to grow their corporate catering business, they have launched a music production company.
Sarah and Patrick Combs, who opened their Harrisburg-based catering company in 2016, started Moon Peak Productions this year.
“We pride ourselves on our company values, which include inclusivity, environmental consciousness, and a focus on customer and artist needs,” said Sarah Combs. “Whether organizing independent shows, booking extensive tours, or curating music festivals, our goal is to always provide top-notch service, promotion, and production.”
The company will hold its first performance with Soul Rebels Sept. 19th at Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center on Herr.
Combs said while both she and her husband have been in the hospitality business since they were teens, she spent time in Montana in the music business and has always wanted to get back into it.
The two, both natives of the Harrisburg area, moved to Montana separately. Combs said her now husband was working as a chef and when she found out he was in Montana, she tracked him down to invite him to a show.
“We started dating and got married in Texas,” she said. “We moved back here to get to know each other’s families.”
Patrick Combs went to work as a sous chef for Messiah College and the two started catering events for family and friends.
Combs said after the sixth event, the couple decided to commit to the business.
“We decided to say yes, and after 27 weddings, Patrick quit his job to go full-time,” she said.
As Mountain Laurel Catering grew, the couple was able to hire help. Last year, Combs said they catered 187 weddings and 50 corporate events.
“We’re toning down our weddings to grow our corporate business,” she said, adding they have landed a contract with the governor’s mansion.
Like most hospitality businesses, Mountain Laurel was hit hard by the pandemic. Combs said they survived by taking advantage of the paycheck protection program and American Rescue Fund monies.
“We put all of our personal savings and retirement investments into the business,” she said. “We’re still standing so all is good.”
As things started to open up, Combs said the business experienced starts and stops, which made it difficult to reschedule events.
“We were working year-round to accommodate the rescheduling,” she said.
During that time, Combs completed the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, a move she said will help Mountain Laurel’s mission to bring more sustainability to the food service industry.
To further that mission, Patrick Combs will attend the James Beard Foundation’s Chef’s Boot Camp in Seattle at the end of September.
Combs said the program will offer her husband the opportunity to become a more effective leader in the food industry.
Combs said her husband worked to get the catering business certified as a Certified Green Catering Company by reducing waste and making sustainable food and business choices.
With Mountain Laurel Catering on solid footing, Combs found she could step away from the day-to-day operations, giving her the chance to get back to her music.
“We have a hard time staying still,” she chuckled. “It feeds our souls to create projects and provide good jobs.”
Mountain Laurel has 19 salaried employees and about 35 part-time servers and bartenders, she said. Moon Peak Productions has five employees to date.
Recently, the Combs bought a 1978 Volkswagen van they call the Green Machine to use for catering at pop-up events and music venues.
The vintage food truck will travel to local events offering seasonal menus.
Combs said she doesn’t know what the menu will look like until she gets out and sees what isn’t being done, but envisions curated salads, antipasti boxes, focaccia and candied bacon.
“The van will also be featured at weddings as cocktail hour bar or late-night station where we can offer fun photo opportunities,” she said.
This fall, along with local productions, the Combs are scheduled to take Moon Peak Productions to Portugal.
In the U.S., Moon Peak Productions will have shows in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and more, Combs said.