If you have not met Melaney and Malia of Public Provisions yet…let us be the first to introduce you to this incredible duo! They will take your bar experience to the next level (and then some). They are true visionaries when it comes to ingredients, flavors, presentation, service level, and overall experience. We have sipped on many of their creations and squealed in delight each time. We adore them and the passion that they put into what they do and who they are. Please read on to learn more about them!
Where are you originally from? And how long have you been in Portland?
Melaney was born in New Mexico and raised in Southern California; Malia was born and raised in Colorado. We’ve been here for 2 and a half years. In fact, we moved here just in time for the snowstorms of the winter of 2016. Brrrrr!
What is your favorite thing about Portland?
The seasons! The access to the world’s finest produce coming out of this fertile Willamette Valley. The immediacy and the excitement surrounding such short and special seasons for all kinds of vegetables, flowers, and fruit is so inspiring to us. For our focus on originality and quality, we couldn’t be in a more perfect place to run a specialty beverage company.
What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
To echo our above answer, we love going to the farmer’s market. It’s a place where we’ve made such good friends and it is always our go-to for inspiration. To see other professionals passionate about the produce they grow makes us feel right at home. The PSU farmers market runs year round so that is where you’ll find us on any given Saturday.
Photo Credit: Alan Weiner Photography
How long have you been working as a professional wedding bar caterer?
In 2013, just for fun and as a creative outlet, I started making cocktails for friends, then parties, then bbqs, then for friends of friends and soon started getting catering requests from strangers. In 2014 I made it officially and launched Public Provisions as a for-hire business!
I, Melaney, had been working the restaurant and bar grind for years, ever honing my craft and expanding my knowledge. I worked at some of the busiest and highest quality bars in Los Angeles and became great at building menus and managing bars. Stepping outside the walls of the restaurant allowed me to exercise my creativity specifically for events and specifically for clients. Events are where people celebrate and when I can contribute to that in my own creative and technical way, then I feel fulfilled in how my years of experience can be shared with others.
Malia has a background in set design and build, so when we decided to run the company together, it was paramount that an experience with us would naturally be an intersection between high quality beverages and a curated design and aesthetic. We want our clients to have a total experience that exceeds expectation and pushes each event to the next level.
How would you describe the importance of your role & why do you feel a couple should hire a professional bar caterer for their wedding day?
Having the best and most delicious food service for your big day is a no-brainer and we think the same goes for the beverages and the bar setup. While food gets served for an hour or two, guests will be imbibing for the entirety of the event so making an impression with your guests with that service is incredibly important. By having professionals whose sole focus is the bar program, our clients ensure that their guests will get top quality bartenders, a unique and high quality beverage menu, and a stunning setup to match. Guests can feel the care and attention that we extend in our services and that ultimately translates into the taste and standards of the couple who choose to prioritize this part of their day.
What is the best part of your job?
It’s the smallest thing, but when someone takes a sip of their very first drink of the evening or the day and says “Oh yum, that’s good,” it tells us two things; first that they weren’t expecting to drink something that good at an event where there is a bar from scratch and that we exceeded their expectation by making them happy and contributing to the overall quality of the event. When each vendor is great at what they do, they each contribute their piece to the bigger picture that makes the entire event a success. This is what we’re good at and this is how we can contribute. We can make such an impact by being passionate and caring about what we do so when we get positive feedback from the most unlikely guests, we know we have to keep sharing that passion with the next client and the next. So far that’s how our business has been able to grow, by impacting guests with our services who then choose to reach out to us about their upcoming events.
Photo Credit: Alan Weiner Photography
What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
I think we still live in a world where our category of service is niche and small. In one way it’s nice because it automatically means the clients who choose to book us value what we do and find quality bar service at their event integral to the success of the evening. Our potential client base at large however, sometimes underestimates the importance of a good beverage program at their event. Sometimes cutting corners at bar services is how clients manage their entire budgets, even though we are working hard to show that exceptional bar service is a treat for guests and an easy way to elevate the experience. Along with other bar caterers, we’re constantly growing our genre and helping clients, and guests who might be future clients that fantastic bar service is as necessary as all the other moving parts of the big day.
Do you work solo or do you have a studio and/or team?
For small events it will always be my partner Malia and I because we work so fantastically together that we can provide specific, intentional service for parties under 50 or so people. In larger events we have a staff of experienced and trained bartenders who work with us and who we feel represent our level of craftsmanship and service and ultimately our brand.
What do you attribute to your success as a wedding bar caterer? What do you think makes you stand apart from others in your field?
Experience, knowledge and aesthetic. High volume, craft bartending is not easy experience to gain but I’ve cut my teeth at some of the most fast-paced, craft bars and that equates to a standard of hyper-efficiency and mandatory coordination of the smallest details. It also means improvisation to get the job done and done well. Creating bars and bar experiences in new and unfamiliar locations and venues at every new event is no small feat and the more we can properly prepare, the smoother the event goes and knowing problems before they even occur is where years of experience kicks in. In terms of aesthetic, we are passionate about having a striking setup that looks effortless and inviting; this is half of the equation. Something that looks good from the outside and actually delivers, that’s what we’ve got to offer.
At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
They should hire us around the same time they hire their food caterer. With a strong vision for the direction of the food, clients should also envision the direction of their bar program. They should always remember, food is served for just a portion of their event, while the bar remains a major part for the entire evening. We think that’s pretty substantial and worthy of special consideration!
Photo Credit: Olivia Ashton Photography
Where do you draw inspiration? Are there any current trends you are excited about?
We maintain our jobs in the industry so that we always have a finger on the pulse when it comes to current bartending and cocktailing trends. By remaining in the scene we always have a keen eye for what the food and beverage scene delivers today and that enables us to bring those same ideas and standards to special events. And since we’re in the Pacific Northwest, we’re particularly inspired by the seasons: by the different elements that are available to us at different times of the year. A trip to the Farmers Market always inspires us and teaches us something new and exciting. I noticed couples are moving away from a lot of the rustic look and steering their creative direction into clean and chic. were super excited to see how this aesthetic develops!
What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
What quality of spirits, syrups and juices will you be using? Some caterers will come in with bids lower than others but typically that means their quality is not as good. You get what you pay for and on your very special day it’s worth it to make sure your package reflects that. Don’t settle for sub-par services!
What is your best advice for wedding clients?
Be able to articulate your vision and be confident about what you want to see at your wedding. If we know exactly what you want, we know exactly how to deliver to you. We can consult and aid couples through the process and the logistics easily if couples can share their vision with us. We want our clients to be delighted with our services so we want to know your expectations so that we can exceed them.
Anything else you’d like couples to know about you?
We’re a couple too! And we’re super friendly – ask any questions you might have!
What other local wedding professional (s) are currently inspiring you?
We’re currently inspired by all of the hardworking wedding coordinators out there. We love working with couples who have hired coordinators because we see how important that role is in helping couples manifest their vision. Coordinators seem to always be working with couples and bending over backwards to be that comfort and strength that is so necessary in such a complex planning stage. To all the coordinators out there, we commend you, and we appreciate all your hard work!
Featured images on this post by Viktoriya Bogdanova Photography.