Darlene Yachik knows business. And, she knows food. But the two skills combined do not completely account for her staying power in an industry that is competitive and often fickle. From the beginning, Darlene knew to add another important ingredient to the mix. Indulgence.
She learned the importance of the word when she first started her catering enterprise in 1974, providing hand-crafted trays of food for private aircraft crews served by the family aviation business in Roswell. Today, Indulgence Café and Catering is still going strong. Relocated to Albuquerque in 1989 and a fixture at its Fourth Street location for the past eight years, Indulgence has inspired the kind of loyalty that seems immune to either fate or fashion.
"We don't skimp," says Yachik of her business philosophy. "Everything is made from the freshest ingredients available. I'm a real stickler for that."
She is also a stickler for customized service. "As a full service catering company we'll do just about anything you need except baby sit." Darlene pauses a few seconds then laughs. "Come to think of it, we've done that."
While Darlene has some signature dishes-a spinach salad, amaretto sour cream cake, and blue corn chicken enchiladas, to name a few-she doesn't operate off a set menu. "We design our service around the client's event," she explains. "The budget, the theme, the number of people all determine our approach."
One weekend it could be Vietnamese for fifty, another a full-blown party with a King Kong theme, the next, an elegant outdoor wedding. Nothing is beyond Yachik's ability. In 1988 she even catered a dinner for now-president George W. Bush as he campaigned for his father's presidential bid.
Yachik carries that same attention to detail and desire to create a memorable culinary experience over into her café, opened three years ago to serve breakfast and lunch. Because the two operations share the same kitchen, customers are able to order many of the same dishes Darlene has created for her catering clients, most of which are offered as daily specials. A few of the fixed menu dishes include veggie quesadillas and sour dough pancakes for breakfast, and a variety of specialty soups and sandwiches for lunch, as well as those signature blue corn enchiladas.
Opened in response to the demand by her catering clients for access to her food on a more regular basis, the café has since become a favorite dining spot with locals who live and work in the neighborhood. Warm and personable and serving delicious, well priced food, Indulgence is a welcome anchor for the neighborhood, a kind of home away from home, where you can order without looking at the menu, where the waiter brings you coffee without having to ask, where conversations flow across to nearby tables.
Perhaps that homey atmosphere prevails because over the years nearly every member of Yachik's immediate family has been involved in the business, including her daughter, son, granddaughter, and grandson. Today son Jason remains as chef and grandson Dustyn helps out summers and during college breaks.
That sense of family also extends outward from the business into the surrounding community, most notably in Yachik's nearly ten-year involvement with Vintage Albuquerque. "I think the cause is terrific, what it does to help the children of this community," she says. "And it gives me the chance to get out and about at the Friday night tastings, meet friends and customers and just have a good time."
Indulgence Café and Catering is located at 6711 4th Street NW in Albuquerque. Open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. 505.345.8548.