Pacific Perks: Catering with care

Cobalt Designworks owners Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei

For Jim Fairchild and his wife Natalie, owners of Pacific Perks Coffee and Catering, that risk has more than paid off.

Having banked everything on one espresso machine and a list of local leads from Natalie’s mother in 2007, the Vancouver entrepreneurs now earn their own livelihood, employ six people part-time, and give Jim the down time he needs to manage stress and illness.

Pacific Perks caters private events in Southwest Washington, Portland and even down to the coast and up to Seattle. Hosting up to ten events in one day, they offer five full espresso bars serving their locally roasted proprietary blend, as well as omelet, ice cream, smoothie and quesadilla bars.

Pacific Perks Coffee
Photo: Buck Heidrick
“We often do employee appreciation events,” said Natalie, “as well as sales meetings,
weddings, company parties,
open houses, sports tournaments and trade shows.”

“We even volunteer our services,” said Jim. “We got to meet Ty Pennington and his cast and crew when we donated catering for an episode of Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition. Sometimes we do
TV and film sets as well.”

The company customizes each unique event, taking into account the nature of the function, even using the hiring company’s logo on the food and coffee carts.

“We try to simplify events for our clients,” said Jim, “so we can just roll in and they don’t have to worry about a thing. Whether this is a marketing tool or employee appreciation, we promote face to face time within organizations. Companies appreciate that.”

Their website,, boasts testimonials from iQ Credit Union, Arnica Publishing, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, among others.

The Fairchilds have seen their business increase about ten percent in the last year. As Pacific Perks continues to grow, the Fairchilds said they hope to offer their employees more hours and management opportunities.

“We have a great client base – a lot of return customers, and we’re breaking into new markets,” Natalie said.

Living up to their own expectations, personally and professionally, in the face of MS, is their biggest challenge, the couple said.

“One day I may wake up feeling great, but then ten minutes later I may be down for the count for the day,” said Jim, who was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 28.

Typically working three to six hours per day from the couple’s home office gives Jim the flexibility to work afternoons and evenings, when he often has more energy and is less likely to experience symptoms from MS.

The biggest reward, they said, is being successful and working together, unlike what they experienced when Jim was working 50 to 60 hours per week in the in-game sports entertainment world and Natalie was a full-time mother with a part-time interior design home business.

“Now, we share the excitement and the stress,” she said. “Jim volunteers at the girls’ school and there is always someone available for them.”

“I get to spend a lot of time with our ‘baristas in training,’ ” Jim joked.

“It’s all about balancing all areas of our life,” added Natalie. “We feel so fortunate.”

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