MANSFIELD -- Long before they opened Little Birdie Catering Company, Sarah Joyce and Scott Meyerer each had a knack for preparing food.
It turns out all that was missing was each other.
The couple met almost two years ago in Columbus and began dating not long after. The first six months of their relationship was long distance. He lived in Washington D.C.; she and her young daughter lived in Mansfield.
During that time, they got to know each other over the phone. One thing they discovered was they shared a passion for cooking.
“We just talked about all of our dreams and the things we love to do and we both had similar goals,” Joyce said.
At the time, she was working as a digital marketer for her family’s car dealership, Joyce Buick. Meyerer was working in construction, where he’d often cook for his co-workers. One day, Meyerer's boss, a former chef, suggested he pursue a culinary career.
“I kind of got the motivation and inspiration from Sarah,” Meyerer said. “My boss said ‘You should be cooking,’ and Sarah said, ‘Why don’t you?’”
The couple opened Little Birdie Catering Company last summer, not long after Meyerer moved to Mansfield. Since then, they’ve expanded from catering parties and weddings to offering holiday specialties, custom charcuterie boards and family-sized Italian dinners to go.
“I think the best part is being together and doing it together. We have a lot of fun together, we’re always laughing,” Joyce said. “It doesn’t even feel like work.”
The latest addition to the fledgling business is single serving lunches, made to order every Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The couple is still playing with the lunch menu, trying new styles every week -- Jamaican one week, Chinese the next.
The business currently operates out of the Entrepreneur's Kitchen, a shared space commercial kitchen designed to help start-up and growing food businesses.
Korinna Goettel, director of operations at the Entrepreneur's Kitchen, said it's been fun to watch the couple's business expand.
"We started talking about how some other members (of the Entreprenuer's Kitchen) did carry out and that got them thinking they could do DoorDash," she said. "It was cool to see them develop that thought and build onto what their original plan was."
While the rotating lunch menu tends to offer healthier options like bowls and wraps, Little Birdie’s dinner time options are all about Italian comfort food. The menu offers starters, salads and classic entrees like lasagna, fettuccine alfredo and chicken parmesan. Desserts like tiramisu, birdie bites and chocolate covered Oreos are also available.
Between the two of them, Meyerer and Joyce handle every task associated with the venture, from the food prep to the marketing.
“We make everything together,” Meyerer said. “We’re equal partners in business and in the kitchen.”
Owning their own business keeps the couple busy, but it also gives them the flexibility to set their own schedule and care for the company’s namesake -- Joyce’s daughter, Wren.
Now in kindergarten, she was born 10 weeks prematurely and nicknamed “little birdie” not long afterward.
“She keeps us on our toes,” said Meyerer with a smile.
“One of the things they said to me was that when they come to cook together, it's kind of like their date time," Goettel said. “It's that time alone that they don't get when they're home with their daughter. For them to be able to enjoy it as a couple and as business is pretty neat to watch.”
Joyce and Meyerer are firmly rooted in the Mansfield community and hope to continue growing with a downtown food cart this summer. Although moving from the nation’s capital was an adjustment for Meyerer, he can’t see himself anywhere else.
“It’s quiet,” he said. “There's a lot to do. There’s already a lot of good food here locally. We enjoy going out and trying new things and we’re also going to enjoy cooking for everyone.”
The area’s affordability is also a huge asset for the budding entrepreneurs.
“I don’t think I could have done this back home. The cost of living in Washington D.C. is one of the highest in the nation,” he said. “Here it gives you the opportunity to do things like buy fresh ingredients. We can operate a business on a scale that would take a lot in D.C.”
Little Birdie will move with the Entrepreneur's Kitchen when it relocates to the former Sons of Italy lodge on West Third Street. Goettel expects the move to be completed by April 1.
Friday lunches can be ordered online, via DoorDash or picked up at Entrepreneur's Kitchen. Same day dinner orders for groups of four and up can be made by calling 419-545-0290.