Catering restaurants are a great way to provide food service for special events and occasions. They offer mouthwatering dishes that can appeal to anyone's taste. Plus, such eateries can serve large parties.
If you’re thinking about starting a restaurant catering business, there are a few things you need to know. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what catering restaurants are, the advantages of running one, and how to build a catering menu that will please your customers and help your business succeed.
What Is Restaurant Catering?
Restaurant catering is a service restaurant provides to deliver food for any event or occasion. Restaurant caterers usually provide an assortment of meals and snacks, as well as setup, decoration, and cleanup services. The menu options vary depending on the restaurant but may include items like hors d’oeuvres, entrees, salads, desserts, and beverages.
Restaurant caterers can also provide customized menus, buffet-style setups, or sit-down dinners with the wait staff. Additionally, they offer various levels of service ranging from simple delivery to full-service catering that includes everything required for the entire event.
Restaurant catering provides a convenient solution for those hosting events who want quality food without having to do all of the work themselves. Catering options can also come in handy for those with busy schedules. With restaurant catering, guests can enjoy delicious food without any hassle.
On Premise vs Off Premise Catering
There are two main types of catering: on premise and off premise.
On premise catering means that the food is prepared and served at the same location. On the other hand, off premise catering means that the food is prepared elsewhere and brought to the event location.
Let’s take a closer look at each type below:
On Premise Catering
On premise catering is when the caterer comes to the event venue and prepares on-site meals. This means that they bring all of their cooking equipment, supplies, and ingredients with them.
The caterer will then set up a buffet, serve individual plates, or provide staff to wait tables during the event. On premise catering provides a more intimate experience for guests as everything is prepared fresh at the venue itself.
Off Premise Catering
Off premise catering typically refers to meal delivery services where food is prepared in a commercial kitchen and delivered directly to the customer’s home or an off-site location like a church hall or community center. Off premise catering can often be less expensive than on-premises catering since it eliminates additional costs associated with bringing a caterer on-site.
Off-premise catering is often more convenient since customers don’t have to worry about the extra setup and clean-up associated with an on-site event. In addition, some off-premises catering services also offer additional benefits like buffet setups and wait staff for an additional fee.
Building a Catering Menu
As a caterer, you are responsible for providing your clients with various delicious food items. But before you can do that, you first need to create a catering menu. This document will outline the dishes and snacks you plan to serve. Crafting a complete catering menu is a must. After all, the food is what will drive success.
Here are six tips to help you get started:
- Serving Style
Consider the serving style you want to offer when building a catering menu. Do you want to serve buffet-style, family-style, or plated meals? Buffet-style is an excellent option for more casual events as guests can select their food and portions.
Family style catering allows for larger portions of fewer dishes to be served at each table. Plated meals are the most formal option and involve single servings carefully presented on plates at each place setting.
Consider the equipment necessary for services, such as chafing dishes, warmers, and serving utensils. Depending on the type of service you provide (or the venue where your catering will take place), additional restaurant equipment may be required and should be taken into account when planning meals.
- Incorporating Your Existing Menu
If your restaurant offers a variety of meals, you can pull from those options for your catering menu. This helps ensure that the dishes are familiar to customers and will help add some variety to the menu. Consider adding signature dishes, seasonal menu items, and specialties when creating the catering menu.
- Adding New Menu Items
When adding new items to your catering menu, it’s important to consider the tastes and preferences of your customers. Research local food trends to identify potential items you can add that will appeal to a broad range of diners.
Look for fast and easy-to-prepare recipes that still look and taste delicious. Balance flavors using complementary ingredients such as herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Consider adding vegan-friendly or gluten-free options for guests with dietary restrictions. When creating the recipe descriptions on your catering menu, use colorful language to entice customers and excite them about ordering from you.
- Know Your Numbers
Cost per Plate
This is one of the most important steps in building a catering menu. Knowing your cost per plate will allow you to gauge how much you should charge for each item on your menu and if adding or removing any items would be a practical decision.
To figure out your cost per plate, take your total food cost divided by the total number of guests served.
Cost per Plate (Total Food Cost ÷ Total Guests Served)
This number can vary greatly depending on the type of cuisine and ingredients used, but it’s important to know so that you can properly price your dishes and ensure profitability. Additionally, many caterers also factor in their overhead costs when pricing out menus to ensure they cover all associated costs with running a business.
It’s important to understand your numbers when building a catering menu.
- Gross revenue is the total amount made from sales before expenses are accounted for.
- Food cost is how much it costs to purchase ingredients and prepare dishes for sale.
- Labor cost takes into account the wages of employees involved in food preparation, service, and clean up.
- Materials cost covers any additional supplies such as tableware or other items necessary to carry out an event.
Once all these figures have been calculated, you will then be able to determine your profit margin.
Gross Revenue – Food Cost – Labor Cost – Materials Cost = Profit
Having this information can help you decide which dishes are more profitable and which ones should be removed from your menu. Knowing your numbers can also help guide decision-making when pricing dishes or changing portion sizes.
By better understanding your catering menu’s financials, you can ensure that you are staying within a reasonable budget and maintaining a healthy profit margin.
- Offering Catering Year-Round
It’s important to offer catering services year-round so that customers can always count on you when they need food for special occasions or want something different. Consider the seasonality of certain foods and plan accordingly.
For example, add lighter options such as salads and cold sandwiches in the spring and summer months, while in winter months, opt for heartier fare like stews and casseroles. This will help keep your menu exciting throughout the year. Offering seasonal specials is also a great idea to attract more customers.
Advantages of Catering Business
The restaurant catering businesses offer many benefits to business owners and customers.
For restaurants, catering services can be a great way to increase profits by expanding their reach and customer base and diversifying their menu options. Additionally, catering offers increased flexibility in terms of location and scheduling. Businesses can easily provide catering services on-site or off-site at any event or venue. In doing so, such eateries can cater to every one of their customers.
For customers, the benefits are numerous: convenience; cost savings; quality assurance; personalization; flexibility; and more. Customers can order from the familiar menu items they know they enjoy while also having the opportunity to customize orders according to their budget and event. Additionally, customers can save on both cost and time by ordering from a restaurant catering business since they don’t have to worry about the costs associated with preparing or taking the time out of their busy schedules to pick up food items.
The advantages of restaurant catering are clear: it’s an efficient, cost-effective way for restaurants to expand their customer base and diversify their offerings while simplifying meal preparation for customers. With quality assurance and customizable options, there is something for everyone when opting for restaurant catering services.
Frequently Asked Questions About Catering Restaurants
Catering is a booming industry, and it can be challenging to know where to start if you’re considering getting into the business. Here are some frequently asked questions that will help shed some light on what catering restaurants entail.
What Is the Difference Between a Restaurant and Catering?
The primary difference between a restaurant and catering is the location of where food is served. Restaurants serve food on their premises, while caterers bring the food to the customer’s venue. Additionally, restaurants often have regular dishes available daily or weekly, while catering services may provide more customized menus and options for each event.
What Is a Full Service Caterer?
A full-service caterer provides a comprehensive range of services for any event. They provide food and beverage catering and other services such as event planning, rentals, styling, decor, and staffing. Their staff includes bartenders, kitchen staff, front of house personnel such as servers or hostesses, and bussers to clear tables after guests have left.
Is Catering Cheaper Than Cooking?
When creating a menu for a special event like a wedding, graduation, or corporate gathering, many assume that catering is more expensive than cooking the food. But this isn’t necessarily always true. Considering the time, effort, and cost of ingredients needed for an entire meal, catering can often be much more affordable than making all the dishes from scratch.
What Is a Catering Person Called?
A catering person is most commonly referred to as a caterer. Caterers are responsible for providing food and services related to food preparation, presentation, and service at special events or occasions. This can include catering for weddings, corporate events, private parties, festivals, school functions, or any other event where food is served.
What Are 3 Segments of Catering?
Catering is an industry that is composed of three distinct segments:
- Commercial Segment: The commercial segment involves independent caterers, hotel and motel caterers, restaurant catering firms, private clubs, and other similar services.
- Non-commercial Segment: The non-commercial segment involves catering for schools, healthcare facilities, transportation catering, college and university catering, business/industry accounts, and recreational food service.
- Military Segment: The military segment provides catering services for military and diplomatic functions.
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