What Started As Meals In The Air Has Grown Into A Groundbreaking Event Company
Lifestyle Media Group Publications
May 1, 2013
Mike Linder pioneeer of the private jet catering industry, began a around-the-clock business in 2001 with Silver Lining InFlight Catering. “It’s 24 hours a day, we’ve never closed in 12 years,” Linder says. Setting the standard for aviation concierge services, providing a first class experience for worldwide jet travel out of South Florida (servicing all private airports from Orlando to Miami).
Five years ago, the duo was looking for a new venture and opened one of South Florida’s most unique restaurant venues, Jet Runway Café (see box), located on the tarmac at FXE Airport in Fort Lauderdale. The café has earned rave reviews as the lines out the door can attest. Now they’ve moved on to their most ambitious challenge yet – becoming South Florida’s most exquisite catering and special events company.
This means creating uniquely designed events ranging from intimate weddings (see box) to lavish galas. “There’s really nothing out of the ordinary that’s thrown us off in 12 years,” Linder says proudly. The reason might be Silver Lining’s size: 150 team members and two 20,000 square foot kitchens located in Pompano Beach and Palm Beach and a venue that can hold a jetliner – because it’s indeed an airplane hangar.
That may be why Silver Lining has hosted Fortune 500 CEOs, Saudi royalty, celebrities, and musicians. But Catering and Events Director John “Hollywood” Abresch has another explanation. “The fact that we service the private jet industry makes us able to handle anything. The industry is so specific to demanding needs that if you can handle the clientele, you can handle anything and everything.”
Everything Under One Roof
“When I sit down and talk to someone about what we do, they think we do the catering from Jet Runway Café,”Amsterdam says. “They don’t understand we have a completely separate catering company that provides food, lighting, décor, floral, and entertainment.”
Another unique aspect of Silver Lining Catering is their venues, including Jet Runway Café, the tarmac on the runway, and the airplane hangar, which serves as a blank canvas for even the most creative of minds. They can handle events for hundreds of people and even thousands. For example, a recent MS Gala seated 1,200 and featured a runway fashion show, luncheon, and silent auction, all produced in house by the Silver Lining Team. Karen Dresbach, President of the MS Society of South Florida adds, “Mitch, John, and the entire team at Silver Lining went above and beyond with every detail to insure the event was a huge success. We could not have been more pleased.”
“We are very into helping out the community,” Linder says. And the community has responded. The American Heart Association, Cameras for Kids Foundation, MS, Charity Guild, Deliver the Dream, and the Danielle Demarzo Foundation have all partnered with Silver Lining Catering over the past year to create some of the most illustrious and memorable galas and fundraisers.
“The events are definitely first class and the attention to detail is like nothing we have ever seen before,” remarks Maria Hunt, The American Heart Assocation’s senior development director. “The AHA has used Silver Lining for several events, ranging from a young professionals event called Pulse to a Moulin Rouge party. Both had the wow factor.”
Betsey Chesler, founder of the Cameras for Kids Foundation, has also relied on Silver Lining for several events. “You expect things to go wrong at a big event,” Chesler says. “But with Silver Lining, it’s just the opposite. I realized I could let them handle everything. They never cease to amaze.”
Jet Runway Cafe: Really Taking Off
The words “airport food” don’t often cause mouths to water. And who goes to an airport to eat when they don’t have somewhere to fly?
But Jet Runway Café is a destination unto itself. The breakfast and lunch restaurant at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport has been called “one of the best lunch spots” in Fort Lauderdale by the Sun Sentinel and a “hidden gem” by New Times. Jet Runway Café has earned stellar reviews from sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon.
“It’s one of those few South Florida restaurants where it’s hip to be seen,” co-owner Mitch Amsterdam says. “It’s right on the tarmac, the only one that’s directly on the runway. Private jets and helicopters pull right up, where both passengers and pilots come in to eat.”
And some of those meals are as unique as the location, such as the turkey pretzel roll and the picnic basket sandwich consisting of BBQ pulled pork, pepper jack cheese, mac-n-cheese, and crispy onion strings on country white bread.
While the restaurant isn’t open for dinner, it is available for private functions, much like its next door airplane hangar.
Weddings: Plane, Not Plain
When Mike Kontos got married in February, the easiest decision for him and his bride was “Who’s the caterer?”
Silver Lining was Kontos’s only choice for the wedding. A pilot for a private jet company, Kontos has been eating Silver Lining InFlight Catering for years. It services the company he flies for, just as it has for pretty much every private flight departing from South Florida.
Co-owner Mike Linder and Catering and Events Director John Abresh took the basic idea that Kontos had – to get married under the nose of a plane and hold the wedding reception in a hangar. They took it to epic proportions…
The ceremony was held under the nose of a DC-3, the cocktail party was on the tarmac and the reception moved inside the airplane hangar.
A four-course meal was served family style on a long table running down the center of the hangar. Kontos says, “I would definitely recommend them to anybody down here. Everything we wanted, they made happen.” It was the wedding he and his wife always dreamed of.