Food is a huge part of the culture at Thumbtack so it only seems obvious that the people behind that food would be as well. That’s certainly true for Aly Self and Stacey Ferguson the masterminds behind Team Salt Lake’s food program.
And their history with Thumbtack goes way, way back—from feeding a team of ten at Thumbtack’s makeshift office at the Marriott Hotel, to Salt Lake offices number one and two. Aly and Stacey have come a long way from hauling chafing dishes to and from daily lunch service in knee-high snow; these days the culinary duo, and their three-person kitchen team feed an office of 270+ five days of lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between.
“Eating is such a big part of what it means to work at Thumbtack, and that’s a special thing to be a part of,” says Aly.
When Aly Met Stacey
Long before they fed lunch and dinner to the 279 tackers in Team Salt Lake, Aly and Stacey were undergraduates at Utah Valley University, sharing refrigerator space at the school’s on-campus kitchen. Stacey was a late entry into the culinary program, and Aly, who had just finished her bachelor’s at Utah Valley, was back on campus helping to set up the school’s flagship culinary internship program. The two became fast friends and co-chefs.
When Stacey’s internship at a local banquet hall became a full-time gig, Aly came on board to help. And when the owners decided to sell that venue in late 2011, Stacey and Aly decided to apply for a business license and Self Impressions Catering was born.
For three years, they rented the banquet hall kitchen and catered all of the events. Along the way they also opened a brick and mortar of their own, a quick service deli in American Fork. On Saturday nights once a month, the duo would flip the restaurant to serve fine dining four-course meals—each Saturday a new theme.
How Aly + Stacey Found Thumbtack
When Stacey and Aly decided to close their restaurant to focus on their catering business in 2013, a handful of their most loyal followers made the transition with them. One SEO company in Salt Lake City proposed a trade: they would run Self Impressions’ SEO strategy in exchange for homemade treats.
One day that SEO company signed them up as Thumbtack pros.
“We kept getting these emails from interested customers and wondered what the heck was going on. Running a restaurant, you get scammed all the time, so we were definitely skeptical,” Aly remembers. So (in true Tack fashion) they ran a test. Stacey created a customer account on Thumbtack and paid five dollars to respond to her own catering request. It checked out.
A couple hundred quotes later, Self Impressions Catering received a request on Thumbtack, from Thumbtack. The culinary duo were confused: “I remember at the time thinking that Thumbtack was actually quoting for us, which in retrospect is pretty funny. But then we responded and Jenny Cook (from People Ops) replied, and we realized what was going on.”
How Thumbtack Found Aly + Stacey
Aly and Stacey became two of Team Salt Lake’s first 15 employees, trudging 100 pound hot boxes in and out of TSL’s stand-in office at the Marriot Hotel, while the first Salt Lake City office was being built.
When the office was ready, the chafing dishes kept coming. Aly and Stacey went from feeding that first class of 20 to just over 100, transporting food in and out of the office each day, sometimes in knee-high snow. In August 2016, TSL moved into a new office and Stacey and Aly moved into their first ever Thumbtack kitchen.
“It’s a night and day difference,” says Stacey. Certain foods like pasta and starchy vegetables which don’t hold well are now back on the menu. Fish, which would have once sat in a chafing dish for four-plus hours, is now a TSL specialty. The four hour food limit is now a thing of the past.
What the Future Holds
These days, there are more cooks in the TSL kitchen—five to be precise. Veronica Aguilera joined Aly and Stacey three years ago, and Marisela Rolon has been working with the team for a little over two years. Barb Walker, the kitchen’s most recent addition, started working full-time as of March. It’s a cohesive, close-knit team, and together they’re taking on bigger and better things, from seafood and build-your-own-pizza nights, to snacks and drinks.
“Food is the one thing that brings the whole office together,” Stacey explains.“Downstairs everything is departmentalized but when you come upstairs it’s just lunchtime.”