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Focus Stories

River City Catering

by Amy Nichol Smith

Featured Photo from River City Catering

Retirement might be on Troy Neeley’s mind, but it won’t happen anytime soon – there’s far too much to do at River City Catering.


River City Catering has been around for 20 years now, and its vans are a common sight in Sanford, where the catering business calls home. Although Troy is one of the faces many will recognize at catering events, and while he boasts 33 years of experience in the food and service industry, the business wasn’t his idea.


“My in-laws started this company,” Troy says. “They opened in 1998 in DeBary, and I helped them get it going. By 2000, I was working for them.”


Before Troy had in-laws, though, he had a job on the Rivership Romance, now known as the St. Johns Rivership, as a dishwasher. Like many who thrive in the food industry, Troy worked his way up the ranks. He didn’t stay in the kitchen, though. Troy learned about every part of the restaurant business, from cooking to serving to management.


In 2005, River City Catering became Troy’s business. After years of driving to DeBary, where the company started, and Orange City, where it settled for a short time, Troy finally moved it to Sanford, which was closer to home.


Despite plenty of well-earned growth, Troy keeps River City Catering a family affair. Both of his daughters work for the business, and they get rave reviews – and not just from dad.
“Kailey did her job better than anyone I’ve hired,” Troy says. “So, my thought process is I’m going to eventually retire and have both my daughters take it over.”


River City Catering is a family business through and through, from employees who are family to employees who become family to the clients they all serve together. One of those is Pete Ayala, the general manager, who joined the River City Catering family 10 years ago.


“It’s kind of funny,” Troy says. “My now-ex-mother-in-law just came back to work for me. And she’s the one who started the business.”


There’s talk in the old bakery-turned-catering-headquarters of expansion, so keep your eyes out for more of those River City Catering vans bringing amazing food and impeccable service to an event or party near you.


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