Hocker’s grows catering offerings

Date Published: 
September 18, 2015

Coastal Point photos • Bob Bertram: G&E Hocker’s and Hocker’s Super Center have added another food trailer to their existing two, to offer the more choices for those looking for a BBQ catering service.Coastal Point photos • Bob Bertram: G&E Hocker’s and Hocker’s Super Center have added another food trailer to their existing two, to offer the more choices for those looking for a BBQ catering service.G&E Supermarket and Hocker’s Super Center have been Hocker-family-owned and -operated businesses for more than 50 years. Along with its deli, supercenter, gas station and convenience store, Hocker’s also offers catering services.

Last month, Hocker’s added a new food trailer to its Hocker’s BBQ fleet, continuing to expand their catering business.

“It’s just another avenue of our business where we like to diversify,” said Gerry Hocker. “The downturn of the economy kind of affected everybody. We were affected, as well, with our businesses. We looked into where we could diversify and what we could expand into, and avenues we could take that our competition couldn’t.”

“You have a lot of competition come in. You have to do things that your competition can’t, being that we’re locally owned,” added Greg Hocker. “We can branch out and do those other things that the other brand stores can’t do.”

Greg Hocker said the catering business and barbecue trailer started small but have continued to grow.

“People start asking about certain things that we had never even thought about making,” said Greg Hocker. “We started experimenting and making it, and now we can make pretty much just about anything anybody wants.”

It was those constant requests that caused Hocker’s to expand their catering capabilities.

“I always felt bad for pulling the trailer off of our parking lot to go to another event, and then our local customers who want Hocker’s BBQ, we were either not there or had our smaller trailer set up offering a very, very limited [menu].

“We were having people leaving our parking lot and coming to private events, trying to buy certain products from us.”

“The times our trailer had been pulled off of our Hocker’s parking lot, we were starting to get disappointed customers,” added Gerry Hocker. “We were at a point where the trailer needed to be at two places at one time, and that can’t happen. So we had to expand.”

The completely custom trailer includes a freezer, a cooler and fryers, among other amenities, and is 42 feet long from the tongue to the rear.

“We’re able to offer so much more with this trailer than we’ve ever been able to offer before,” said Greg Hocker of the BBQ trailer that primarily offered pit beef, pulled pork, ribs and hot dogs.

As an added bonus, Hocker said that, being in the grocery business, their catering abilities are seemingly endless.

“It’s nice having grocery stores that have so many suppliers. That gives me the ability, if you want something we don’t carry, I would do research and start preparing. I always do experiments just to make sure it’s good,” said Greg Hocker. “We’ve had people contact us about doing sushi-grade tuna for an event. I have suppliers that I can order that from.”

With their new rig, Hocker’s Catering & Events can serve hand-cut French fries fried in peanut oil, chicken tenders, funnel cakes and more.

“We can serve crabcakes, with our store-made crabcakes. For special events, we can even do our hot fresh fried chicken. We can do pretty much anything with this trailer.”

To test the new state-of-the-art trailer, a day after the trailer was delivered, Hocker’s staff drove it to Harrington to christen it at the Delaware Junction Country Music Festival.

“We ordered it, hoping it would be here for that event,” said Gerry Hocker.

“I really thank our employees for stepping up and helping us get through Delta Junction,” added Greg Hocker of their phenomenal staff.

Hocker said it was such a success that they definitely plan to return to Delaware Junction next year.

“We served a lot of people. We had a lot of compliments,” he said. “We even booked a couple of catering jobs for people who had never had had us before.”

Hocker said they received numerous compliments regarding their famous barbecue.

“It’s always nice to have a new customer come up and try your food for the first time,” said Greg Hocker, noting they almost sold out of brisket at Delaware Junction. “The responses we’ve gotten, even from the people who aren’t even from around here, were really, really, really good. We had quite a few people brag on the pulled pork and the brisket.”

This weekend, the trailer will be at the ’Boro Bash on Sept. 19. It will also be at the Millville Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 3 and Coast Day on Oct. 4. In the future, they hope to attend the Firefly and Big Barrel music festivals.

Those interested in having Hocker’s cater an event can call Hocker’s dedicated catering line.

“They will speak to my wife, and she will get the dates and things like that,” explained Greg Hocker. “She’ll ask them what they’re looking for, or if they want a package deal, and she’ll quote it out. We can do either drop off, you can pick it up yourself, or we can man the entire event.”

“When people call us for bookings and ask us what we can do, our question back to them is, ‘What is it that you’re wanting?’ And, most of the time, we’ve been able to provide exactly what they want,” added Gerry Hocker, noting that customers will need a confirmed headcount prior to the day of the event.

Along with their catering services, Hocker’s also now offers event planning.

“Another thing we’ve gotten into is event planning — we can do the tables, chairs, tents, lighting, dance floor, the linens. We can pretty much do everything now,” said Greg Hocker. “We’ve really, really focused on wedding cakes, and we have a tremendous lady doing cakes. Now, we can pretty much do everything but D.J.”

Hocker’s has continued to try and set itself apart with specialty offerings, such as homemade barbecue and in-house deer processing.

“We started the smokehouse for deer processing, but then it became so much more than processing,” said Greg Hocker.

“It’s been rather interesting,” said Gerry Hocker. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from it.”

Having served the community for more than half a century, the Hocker family say they love what they do, and what it brings to the area where they were born and raised.

“I’ve always loved food. When I was younger, I would get off the school bus and help Mom cook dinner and stuff like that,” Greg Hocker said, adding with a laugh, “I think my wife appreciates it, because I cook dinner just about every night.

“We grew up in it. It’s in our blood, to pass on the tradition and stay in the family business and keep it going as long as the local support us.”

“It’s thanks to the loyalty of our customers we’re still here,” added Gerry Hocker.

For Hocker’s Catering & Events inquires, call Hocker’s BBQ at (302) 858-1211.