Food Factoid: Catering, if executed well is a profit center for restaurants that can seldom be equaled by serving plate after plate of appetizer, entrée, salad or dessert. The reasons are simple- food costs are already established- waste is already accounted for- and with the exception of one uncontrollable glitch or another- seldom does a well planned event, executed perfectly not turn a sizeable profit for staff and management.
Yes, catering is any positive cash flow looking accountant’s perennial friend. Once the reputation of great catering and private party perfection is established it becomes a regular line item that directly filters a profit to the bottom line.
That’s why I can’t understand why so many restaurants fill the position of catering director with people who have little customer service experience, lack style and do not have the least inkling of what it takes to turn a catering event into a memorable occasion.
The lyrics of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen frame most catering events: This is no one night stand, it’s a real occasion. That’s how the customer sees it. And, that’s how they want to remember it.
I recently had an event catered at a well known
Arriving ten minutes before the event was to begin the buffet table wasn’t completely set, the food was still being prepared and a half an hour into the lunch the desserts were still not presented on the table. When this was brought up to the catering director she claimed the desserts always come out later. She maintained she had being doing her job for 25 years and didn’t really need any advice on how to present a table.
I really didn’t want to discuss the director’s portfolio of experience as in my world, the restaurant world, the customer is always right. (There have been a few exceptions to that philosophy but that is for another column.)
The moral to the story is simple- put a little extra into every catering event. If the customer has a problem, fix it. At forty-bucks a head for lunch, style should be included.
And for all of us who don’t have 25 years in the business- thank god- I will offer some sure fire catering tips tomorrow to turn a one night stand into a real occasion.