5 Tips for Restaurant Catering Success: Supplies, Ideas, and More

Buffet Food by Catering ServiceIf you run a restaurant, it can be a very profitable (but very scary) notion to try to get into the catering business. On the one hand, you are already making a bunch of food every day and catering basically just increases your audience. On the other hand, catering offers its own unique set of challenges and potential pitfalls.

Want to up your foodservice game? Here are some tips for success moving from restaurateur to caterer.

1. Decide On Your Service

There are lots of different kinds of catering, and each comes with a unique set of operations. For example, catering a business luncheon, a wedding, and a kindergarten class field trip are three very different kinds of catering. Before you make any other decisions, decide what kinds of events you intend to cater, making sure they match the kinds of food you can produce.

2. Decide On Your Menu

A catering menu needs to be simple, easy to execute in bulk, easy to transport, and just as tasty as the dishes you serve in-house. Simple in this case means giving the client a few main dishes choices, a few side dish choices, and a few dessert choices. Prices should be higher than you would charge at your restaurant because you need to cover transportation, setup and other expenses that come with catering. Keep in mind that you won’t have most of your restaurant equipment on-site; everything should be delicious when warmed over some chafing dishes or otherwise maintained in warming and holding cabinets during the drive over to the event.

3. Assign Responsibilities

Don’t just jump into catering assuming that your existing staff can handle it. Hire an event organizer who is not part of your regular restaurant staff, and then work out how your existing staff is going to make the event food alongside the normal restaurant fare. Having them work on off-peak hours making catering food is a common choice, but hiring further cooks to work nights or swing shifts preparing for upcoming events can be a viable option as well.

4. Perfect Your Paperwork

You should be able to show your customer a line-item bill of all of your charges when the event is complete. In addition, you should have a good enough grasp of your projected costs that you can give a solid estimate of how profitable a given event will be for you. Events should universally require a nonrefundable deposit that will at least cover the cost of the additional ingredients you purchased should the event be canceled at the last minute.

5. Employ the Boy Scout Motto

Yep, we mean “Be Prepared.” Being prepared for the worst-case scenarios is what catering is all about. You should have a ‘panic kit’ in your van that has an extra several of everything vital to success, from fuel for your warming plates to extra dishes in case someone drops a stack on the way in.

Tags: catering, food service, holding cabinets, restaurant industry, restaurant tips

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