Dagar’s Catering has worked with numerous public figures, corporations and universities in its 60 years of business–from blue to white collar, and everything in between.
Kathryn Dagar-Albarado, Dagar’s Catering owner, said Downtown Austin was home to many mom-and-pop shops in the days before music festivals and traffic congestion. Among these was her late grandfather Freddie Dagar’s café, located at 511 E. Sixth St.
Dagar-Albarado, Texas State alumna, said a chance encounter with a caterer at a meat market led her grandfather to expand his barbeque blue plate specials into the business it is today.
“(My grandfather) asked him what catering was and he said, ‘Hell, I can do that,’” she said.
Freddie Dagar closed the café and focused on catering for his growing list of clients as businesses started to move away from Sixth Street in the mid-1970s, Dagar-Albarado said.
The business’ 1981 move off North Lamar in Austin saw Albert Dagar, Freddie’s son, at the helm.
Albert Dagar, Southwest Texas State alumnus, used what he learned from his father and the events that occurred during his stay in New York to expand the business’ offerings and menu, Dagar-Albarado said.
Dagar-Albarado said catering and rental companies were few-and-far-between in Texas. She said her mother, Donna Dagar, sewed tablecloths and skirting and baked and decorated wedding cakes when the business catered more formal events, such as those at the University of Texas.
The business’ menu now includes multicultural food stations, such as crepes and pasta, but its fajita marinade and barbeque are tried-and-true recipes.
The family’s love of barbeque has rubbed off on Dagar-Albarado.
As children, she and her brothers would routinely come home with red hands from rubbing down brisket with their grandfather in preparation for an event.
Dagar-Albarado reminded her siblings filling cups at weddings or helping make 100 pounds of potato salad meant hanging out with their father.
Dagar-Albarado said their volunteer work continued throughout college, and, as for her brothers, continues to this day.
“That’s what the family did—that’s still what the family does,” she said.
The humble roots of Dagar’s Catering run deep in Central Texas.
Dagar’s Catering, referred to by some as the “most educated caterers in Austin,” has served Texas State, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University and St. Edward’s University.
Texas State, formerly Southwest Texas State, nourished the mind, stomach and heart of Albert Dagar. He met his future wife in Commons Dining Hall.
After her father’s death last May, Dagar-Albarado continues to expand the business’ scope at its current location off West Kramer Lane in Austin as owner.
“When you are born into a family business, there isn’t a choice of if you’re going to work,” she said. “It’s not necessarily what I was planning on doing, by any means.”
Dagar-Albarado was surrounded by catering events her entire life, but her father believed it was important for her to learn every aspect of the business, which included loading and unloading trucks, fixing grills and ovens, washing dishes and cooking.
Dagar-Albarado said one of the reasons the business has been successful for decades is its consistency. Dagar-Albarado said she learned from her family failure is not an option and there are no excuses, which has transcended into her business practices.
“My grandfather taught my dad this and my father taught me this. There isn’t a job within your company that is too big or too small for you to do,” she said. “If you’re not willing to do it, don’t ask somebody else to do it.”
Dagar-Albarado has since brought her husband, Frank Albarado, into the catering fold.
As co-owner of DNA Events, Frank Albarado, Southwest Texas State alumnus, said it has been interesting to see the dynamic between the hospitality services business and Dagar’s Catering.
“We saw a chance for a niche service to be filled,” he said. “There’s flexibility and the ability for it to grow.”