Meet the Bettys: The Tenacious B

Caitlin Cullen embodies Betty Quadracci’s perserverence.

JOIN US IN HONORING THE 2020 BETTY AWARD WINNERS IN A VIRTUAL EVENT DECEMBER 15TH. AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR ANNA QUINDLEN WILL DELIVER THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND JOEL QUADRACCI OF QUAD WILL PRESENT REMARKS. 

In March, Caitlin Cullen lost more than $30,000 in catering business within 36 hours. After that, she was certain she’d have to shutter The Tandem, her Lindsay Heights restaurant, for good. So she decided to use her remaining ingredients to cook 85 free meals for her neighbors who needed them most. The meals were gone within two hours. The next day, the 33-year-old and her staff made twice the amount. They were taken even faster. “It became clear to me that we needed to do this,” says Cullen.  

Within a few weeks, The Tandem was running exclusively on donations and cooking upwards of 500 meals each day. In late April, World Central Kitchen, a global nonprofit that provides meals to families in need, committed to covering Cullen’s weekly costs. Over the next six months, Cullen tapped a slew of local restaurants which helped her churn out hundreds of meals a day.

When the operation ended in September, Cullen had funnelled $430,000 to 50 restaurants across Milwaukee and distributed upwards of 57,000 free meals. As for what’s next? “I stopped predicting the future in March,” says Cullen. But whatever the direction, Cullen’s compass is clear: Do what feels right.  


Caitlin Cullen is one of the 2020 recipients of a Betty Award. Each year, Milwaukee Magazine presents these awards as a tribute to the late Betty Quadracci, the magazine’s former publisher who founded Quad/Graphics with her husband Harry. Read more about this year’s honorees here


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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