Minggu, Oktober 1, 2023

AA Catering trailblazing the path to a living legend in Padang

Donny Syofyan
Donny Syofyan
Dosen Fakultas Ilmu Budaya Universitas Andalas
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From a small business, AA Catering has been growing rapidly and is currently the number one catering provider in the city of Padang, West Sumatra. It was established by Suarni Alamsyah and her husband Azwar Aziz back in 1978. As a police officer, Azwar Aziz and Suarni Alamsyah still domiciled in the police housing complex at that time. As a part of Bhayangkari (Association of Police Wives), Suarni was actively involved in various events held in the West Sumatra Regional Police, particularly to prepare food and beverage menus for breakfast and lunch meetings, social gathering and guests visit.

She captured this a business opportunity and decided to open a small catering business. At that time there was no such thing as catering. As a matter of fact, Suarni had never attended school of culinary art. She has worked in a pharmacy. However, her passion for cooking and processing various foods rendered her to end up opening a catering business. She named it AA Catering, standing for asisten apoteker (pharmacist assistant). Much to Suarni’s surprise, AA has been also often abbreviated to Azwar Aziz, her husband’s name.

The catering business started with a small amount of money, IDR 10 million. This has been mostly used to purchase food ingredients and food service equipment. Occasionally, Suarni had to use the clients’ down payment in making a dish or other food. Yet her vision in opening a business in the catering sector deserved a thumbs up. Even though it only started with word of mouth, her effort eventually paid off. At the outset, some requests only came from her neighbors or relatives for social gathering. Then she obtained more orders slowly but surely. The price set at that time was still around IDR 9,000 each box. Everything has been done manually because she was yet to have an ordered and professional management.

This business had stopped temporarily following Azwar Aziz’s relocation to Banda Aceh for work in 1981. In Aceh, they remained in the police housing, and Suarni was again asked to help prepare functions including food and beverage for numerous police-related events. Six years later, Azwar and his wife returned to Padang. Suarni was thrilled and immersed herself back in catering activities. A lot of her customers were those who loved and were used to her dishes. This catering business was originally only considered a side business. In fact, all cooking processes were done next to her house, precisely in the garage of the house.

Suarni had to expand her catering capacity in response to soaring orders from the customers over time. She and her husband ended up finding new land for broader production activities. In 1994, they found an area of 300 square meter built specifically for cooking activities. All kitchen matters and operational activities finally moved to this new building. This catering business slowly came to be known to the people of Padang city. Entering business with orders received from the police and surrounding communities, Suarni broke into getting orders for various party events, with wedding being the favorite one. AA Catering moved and developed.

While enjoying the growing business, the family faced a painful ordeal. In 1999, Suarni had to undergo treatment in Jakarta due to her disease. Despite the best medical efforts to get her recovered, Suarni passed away at the same year. Having been into a deep sorrow for the loss of their mother, Suarni’s children immediately held a family meeting to discuss the continuity of AA Catering. Rinaldi Iswara, the eldest child, decided this business must go on. For this purpose, he gave up his settlement in Jakarta and moved to Padang instead to continue the venture along with his younger brother and sister, Heri Febrian and Sari Novi.

For over forty years, AA Catering continues to grow exponentially. Right now, it comprises three divisions; wedding, industrial and inflight. It has branches in Pekanbaru and Batam. The entire family recipes, approximately 200 recipes, have been computerized for quality control. AA Catering is the only catering company entrusted to provide for in-flight catering service at Minangkabau International Airport as it secured ISO 9001 certificate on quality management system in 2009. It has its own office in the vicinity of the airport. Regrettably, it had to be closed since 2020 owing to COVID-19 pandemic. Angkasa Pura II resolved not to extend contract with AA Catering by reason of health protocol.

If you wish to taste the culinary delight AA Catering offers, feel free to visit its office in Jalan Pramuka No 20 Padang, or you call its customer service number at +62 812 66249626.


Donny Syofyan
Donny Syofyan
Dosen Fakultas Ilmu Budaya Universitas Andalas
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