Sometimes opportunities will arrive at the oddest moments. In Terri Lynn Doyle’s case, her longtime dream of opening a cafe came true in the midst of a pandemic. Since 1999, her company, Terri Lynn’s Catering by Design, grew from a 6-foot table in a kitchen in Jeffersonville to a spot in Highlander Point in Floyds Knobs to exclusive catering services for The McCulloch House in Clarksville. Then, in 2021 — COVID-19 or not — she opened Terri Lynn’s Cafe & Catering in downtown New Albany.
Plan for the cafe?
In my mind the cafe will be a bougie little place where you can spend time over lunch with your friends or have tea and a muffin.
Can’t quite get the knack of?
I do struggle with decorated cakes. I can do a four-layer salted pumpkin cake dessert but not the fancy buttercream roses-and-leaves type of cake.
In August — a month after we opened — I broke my foot! I was really depressed after that because I was so looking forward to being at the cafe and creating a soup of the day and a special of the day.
What’s changed in your career?
I’ve been in food service for 40 some years — 23 years as a caterer. I’ve done all sorts of jobs in the business, and I was in food sales for five years which was a valuable experience. Catering by Design expanded from box lunches to adding hot buffets and 5 to 7pm parties — retirement parties, award ceremonies — those kinds of events. It took a lot out of me to put together those events — we’re talking sometimes feeding 900 people breakfast, lunch, and providing for an evening cocktail party.
Where does your love of food come from?
I consider my work to be very artistic. Food is art. The way the cafe is decorated shows my passion for food and my artistic outlook on life. I was a Fine Arts major in college and consider myself very artistic in the way things look — both food and decor.
My family celebrated everything around food. My aunt was a gourmet cook. My dad loved to cook and entertain and eat. I would love to be a food TV personality.
How did COVID affect your catering business?
Since I was doing mostly corporate events, when the pandemic hit, those stopped. I started offering family meals for pickup and marketed special occasion events. Now, we are not doing full-service events. We provide the catering but the customer picks it up.
Challenges you faced in opening the cafe?
Broken foot aside, it’s definitely been an eye-opening experience. I thought moving from strictly catering to catering and the cafe would be a little easier but it wasn’t. We ended up closing for a month in October when we pivoted the way we ran things — from having servers and china plates and silverware to having customers order at the counter. Someone delivers their food but customers get their own drinks and we use disposable utensils and plates.
What about your own kitchen?
If I had unlimited funds, my home kitchen would include two ovens and two dishwashers, a step-in refrigerator, a KitchenAid mixer, and lots and lots of counter space.
By Lucy M. Pritchett | Photos submitted