Love to party

Military spouse turns talent for parties into successful business

By Marguerite Cleveland on March 2, 2018

Retired military spouse Susan Krogh turned her love and talent for parties into a successful party planning and catering business, Just Call Susan Party, in 2015, when she found herself an empty nester after her youngest child moved out.

"After a few weeks self-pity, I picked myself up and started to make a list of what I wanted to do with my life, at 52 years old," she said. "I asked myself ‘What are you good at?' I've always loved to host parties at our home and to plan events for others, and I love to cook. I've also had people all along the way tell me that I was very good at planning and putting on events, and some had even told me I should go into my own business. So I started to look into how to make that happen."

Many senior military spouses find themselves juggling children, volunteer work and the many social obligations the military places on them, including entertaining.

"Susan Krogh's catering was a blessing for us both times we used her team," said Cackie Howe, a military spouse. "We were able to use Just Call Susan for our change-of-command ceremony and our New Year's Day reception. Both times, Susan arrived with her friendly team armed with all the necessities, decorations and delicious foods that we decided on together before each event. Her catering service made what could have been stressful events into times that we could enjoy and spend time focused on our guests."

Krogh caters many events, but one is particularly memorable.

"During a recent event for the Steilacoom Kiwanis Club, (its annual Winefest), which is a large fundraiser with dinner for almost 600 people, I partnered with another caterer to provide the appetizers," Krogh said. "I've cooked for large groups, but never 600 people. Well, the appetizers were so popular, people were waiting in the hallway to catch the servers so they could get the appetizers before they were gone. In addition, I had several people ask for the recipes, which I always share."

In addition to her catering business, Krogh found another niche -- she also runs a commissary and commercial kitchen.

"I had a hard time finding a kitchen to rent; they were either too expensive or too far away. One night, we went out for dinner at Sensational Cajun and I got to talking to Jeff (a veteran), the owner," she recalled. "He told me how he had the same struggles when starting out with his food truck and gave me some valuable tips. Jeff continues to be a mentor. Because of my initial struggles and finding out that others were having the same difficulty, I decided to lease a building and open a commissary/commercial kitchen. I rent out space to food trucks and other caterers and for repackaging, and I also use the space for cooking classes and food-related parties. I advertise on Craigslist for space rental."

Krogh's advice to those wanting to start their own business, "Find something that you are good at and love to do. Starting any kind of business is hard work, and if you don't love what you are doing, it's easy to get discouraged. If you are going into the food business in this area, the staff at the Pierce County health department is amazing. They are friendly, encouraging and want you to succeed, so utilize them. I have found others in small food business to be very helpful and willing to share their ideas. If anyone is interested, they can contact me and I will gladly pass on what I've learned."

Just Call Susan Party Planning & Catering, 253.640.4480,,