Merit Badge is bringing about a new wave of catering greatness. Speciality crafted cocktails for your event, a hand crafted bar they bring in to serve said cocktails and a staff that makes the event effortless fun. Husband and wife duo, Matt and Heather, founders of Merit Badge are carving out a name for themselves, one event at a time. You are bound to see them soon or maybe you have already at Union/Pine's monthly Association dinners.
E+E: First off, we love the name. Where did the name come from?
Merit Badge:Heather and I were thinking a lot about accomplishments at the time, being relatively new parents who were both working, and taking on this new bar catering project. Every time we worked an event we felt like we had accomplished something new and unique and learned something new about how to be better. Merit Badge just floated right into that concept. The words are strong and it carries so much imagery with it. We didn't want to draw too much from scouting (though we were both scouts growing up), but imagined the client starting out in a forest of possibilities and us guiding them through it to an amazing party.
E+E: What inspired Merit Badge to get started?
MB: We had a ton of fun planning our wedding 7 years ago, and we've always enjoyed working together, so starting a business has been a goal of ours forever...plus we love a good party. I was a bartender for many years and did the marketing and events for House Spirits Distillery for a while too. Heather had already been running her photography businessfor over a decade, so she knew what it took to get things up and running, and she has a killer aesthetic. With the successes that we had working on our own projects, we knew it was time to meld forces and launch something together. Merit Badge started as a side project and quickly gained momentum. After seven years at the distillery I (Matt) left about a month ago and we've been full-time spirit guides since then.
E+E: What is your favorite part about working in the catering and events business?
MB: We love the singular-moment aspect of catering, building a little world in a space and creating a resonating experience for the participants. The art of it means a ton to us, both with the drinks and in how we present our bars.And on the business owner side, we love getting to employ really talented, nice people who are fun and enjoy making a good party happen as much as we do. We take pride in having the best employees in the whole wide world.
E+E: What type of events do you enjoy doing?
MB: It's important to us to take on events that we know we're going to gel with, so for that reason we truly do love them all. Portland has so many badass businesses that we've had the privilege to work with and get to know, and it's exciting to see them grow and be able to throw these great parties. We co-host a monthly dinner party with the good folks at Union/Pine called Association, and every month is a whole new kind of amazing with a different chef, speaker, and decor, but the guests are what really make this dinner special. There's so much talent squeezed into that venue it's pretty unbelievable.
E+E: Any special ones you are looking forward to?
MB: We are running the bars at the PICA TBA Festival this year and are beyond thrilled and honored to be part of it. Their new warehouse location in NW is going to be an amazing one-time event space.
E+E: Finally, any crazy stories you would like to share with us?
MB: Since we've only officially been Merit Badge for less than a year, our crazy stories are mild. Ah, but one of my favorite moments so far was a private party we did a while ago and the special guest was Big Freedia. The instant the show started the dance floor filled up and the energy was enormous. It was a great party but once she hit the stage she set the crowd on fire. I had never heard of her but by the end of her set I was a huge fan.Merit BadgeFacebookspiritanimal@meritbadgeco.com
EYES & EDGE