Caterer a perfect 2-for-2

? OP caterer has second annual winning entry in the River Forest Memorial Day parade.

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By JOHN YOO

The Perfect Dinner, 809 South Blvd., won first place in the last year's River Forest Memorial Day parade with its "Freedom at Dinner" entry, in which the Statue of Liberty held The Perfect Dinner menu and raised a whisk pronouncing freedom at the dinner hour.

This year, they won again.

This year's theme was "Family Dinner Magic," in which everyone?#34;and everything?#34;at the dinner table came to life.

"We wanted to portray the feeling our customers get when they get their family dinner," said Karen Gruber, co-owner of The Perfect Dinner. "They feel rejuvenated, just like a scene from 'The Beauty and The Beast.'"

Jill Haas, executive chef and co-owner of the caterer, played The Perfect Dinner fairy godmother who brought both family and the table to life.

Owners' and customers' children participated in the parade as dancing knives, forks, spoons, candelabra and the table.

The entourage was accompanied by a jazzed-up version of "Be Our Guest," scored and directed by Linda Van Dyke, Oak Park clarinet and saxophone teacher. The members of the band were OPRF students: Alex McLeese, Kevin Swanson, Nicholas Eooman and Brian Smith.

"This was better and much bigger than our entry last year," Gruber said. "We wanted to make a big impression and explain to our customers the personality and the character of our business."

Also displayed on the float was The Perfect Dinner signage, designed and constructed by Leslie Alderman, River Forest resident and owner of Studioa, a graphic design firm.

Following the parade, coupons and menus were handed out to the spectators.

The Perfect Dinner opened in September 2003, and is operated by four locals: Deborah Beuttler, Dianne Dinkel, Jill Haas and Karen Gruber.

"Many people heard of us but they have never tried our dinners," said Gruber. "This was a great opportunity for us to tell them who we are and what the unique aspect of our business is."

Guided by the philosophy, "to preserve the ideal of the family dinner, even in the midst of today's busy lifestyles," The Perfect Dinner provides fresh-made, family-favorite dinners and catering. Some of the top recipes include: meatloaf, chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas and pork tenderloin.

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