Health dept requirements
If your customers love your food, eventually someone is going to ask you to cater their wedding, office party or other event. If you intend to serve food to people off-site and you charge for it (revenue) you must have a certain licenses. If you're currently a restaurant your license will cover catering (in most states). In this section, we discuss the requirements and several options for how to set-up a catering operation and interact with local Health Departments.
If you cater to anyone as a business, you must have a food liability insurance policy to protect yourself against legal action anyone gets sick or injured in conjunction with your services. We present some common options for coverage that various venues will require if you wish to cater to clients on corporate or government owned properties. There are also venues that do not allow outside catering firms unless they have very specific coverage in place - intended to limit or restrict outside people from not using "inside services".
There are large catering companies and restaurants that allow their clients to pick from a wide range of food items and then there's restaurants that offer a selected menu with preconfigured packages. Careful planning of a limited number of tasty and attractive packages, with up-charges for substitutions, is highly recommended for small restaurants. In this section, we present examples of preconfigured menu packages with price, cost and profit.
Catering will create challenges for your kitchen. In addition to preparing food for the restaurant throughout the day, making large amounts of food for an outside event will require additional staff (or additional hours of existing staff) to prep, cook and pack food for an event. This section presents various configurations for catering, the number of staff required and typical hours spent off-site.
For catering off-site, you will need the ability to serve large amounts of food to a lot of people, sometimes multiple tables serving down both sides. Chafing dishes, bowls, baskets, ice chests, credit card remote processing and more are just a few of the things you should have in your inventory. This section details the various equipment needs and solutions for just about any catering event up to 500 people. We provide detail catering checklists and examples of situations where odd things happen when you aren't prepared.
Portioning & Presentation
Two very important aspects your catering clients is portion size and how it is presented. To be highly profitable in catering, your kitchen must control waste and portion size for each item served. Portioning is really important but there are numerous other factors will affect how much people eat at any given event - every event is different.
If you intend to do catering you will probably need some type of business looking vehicle to transport your food and equipment to a client site. All hot and cold foods must be kept at their appropriate safe temperatures throughout the process (restaurant kitchen to the guest table). We provide numerous reasons why you should have a catering specialized vehicle, how it can be used to increase your efficiency, profitability, community involvement and brand identification.