Planning Outside Catering
Outside catering is an opportunity available to all food service establishments. You might be interested in the upsides and profitability of an outside cater business, indeed you might be getting some requests for such a service, but where do you start? Here’re the main items you need to analyze when planning and organizing an outside catering venture.
The key component in the success of your outside catering venture. Begin by using ingredients which you already have in your kitchen for the menu served in your restaurant. This is for many reason. The primary reason is that many of your first customers are going to be loyal patrons of your location which means they love your food! Don’t set them up for disappointment by offering something entirely different in your outside catering menu.
The second reason to stick close to your current menu is that by using the items you currently order you may be able to get better prices for these products from your supplier now that you’re going to be ordering them in larger quantities. It also means that if you don’t use this excess product it’s highly likely that it won’t go to waste and will be used in your restaurant.
There’s also the basic principle of: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! i.e. stick with what you already know and already do really well!
You’re effectively starting a new business when you start outside catering and that means you’re going to need the space and equipment to handle this. Remember, any service equipment i.e. hotel pans, service utensils, chafing dishes, that you send out will not be back until much later so your venue needs to be able survive without any of that equipment. This all means you’re probably going to have to purchase more.
You also need to store this equipment somewhere so make sure that you have the space available for that. You’re also going to need the space to store the food which you’re going to be preparing and serving. With most restaurant coolers, freezers and cabinets already brimming with product can you store enough product to run your restaurant and your new catering venture? Which can mean producing food for up to a hundred extra people.
Do you have the man power and man hours available to prepare these potentially large orders? Remember, all of the prep and cooking for these parties will take place around the regular time frame of your restaurant. Most restaurants are already stretched for staff and adding more to their workload might not sit well with your current employees.
Are you going to provide service staff for the events you’re catering too? If so do you have staff to do this and how are you going to get them to and from the location? Many outside catering service drop off items and service cutlery and then leave the event to serve themselves. To begin with this is probably the best option because, as mentioned before with back of house staff, there’s not really a surplus of staff in any restaurant.
It is more than likely that many of these items will be hot items. If so, you need to ensure that they’re delivered hot and served hot. This might require the purchase of special equipment to go in the vehicle you’re using to deliver these services. Not doing so is really going to tarnish the name of your business, not only to one table of customers but potentially to a large group of people; and this damages not just your outside catering one but your currently successful business too.
Outside catering can not only add another revenue stream to your business, often with minimal cost for setup, it is also a novel way of advertising to new customers attending the event whom may not have tried your food before. Getting it right is critical and taking all of the above factors into consideration when planning your outside catering will help to ensure the future success of this expansion of your business.