5 Basics of Starting a Restaurant Catering Service

With the current lockdowns, restaurant owners are suffering from several months of drastically reduced operations. Restaurants already tapped on alternative energy so that they can resume with less operating costs. Every year, more and more US restaurateurs cook with solar energy.

Although there are restrictions in accepting several customers recently, this can be a chance for restaurants to transition to alternative energy. Using solar ovens or using induction appliances are great options. Furthermore, restaurateurs can experiment with catering services to boost sales.

What Is Restaurant Catering?

Restaurant catering is simply defined as a restaurant business offering a catering service. It is being practiced in 2 ways: ‘on-premise catering’, wherein clients come to the restaurant, and ‘off-premise catering’, wherein the restaurant brings the food to the client’s intended location. Among the common events that a restaurant may cater are:

  • Luncheons
  • Birthday Parties
  • Anniversary Parties
  • Weddings
  • Business Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Holiday Gatherings

How to Start a Restaurant Catering?

All restaurants have the potential to expand to the catering business. Before doing so, here are 5 tips you have to consider doing first.

1. Work on the Menu and the Necessary Fees

What you usually offer in your restaurant, certainly it is expected that it will also be offered on your catering service. Once you established what type of catering practice you apply, the selection of the menu can be easy. For on-premise catering, you can use all the faculties you have since an event is held at your location. However, the challenge lies in off-premise catering.

In off-premise catering, foods are expected to be in ‘ready-to-eat’ serving. This means, there is typically no cooking involved at the event location. If you are this type of restaurant caterer, make sure to select the meals that work in that arrangement. You must consider the travel time and the storage capabilities you have while transporting.

Now that you have selected the appropriate foods, it is time to adjust the pricing. Most catering businesses based their pricing on the number of people their food packages can be good of. So, if you can cook for 30 people, then the price must be at least equal to the price of one serving offered at your restaurant multiplied by 30.

However, such pricing is only good for delivering the food only, not catering to the restaurant experience. There is a difference between catering service and delivery service. In catering service, you don’t only serve the food. You are also investing in other aspects such as reheating fees, decoration, and more. Here are other fees that you can charge to your customer:

  • Delivery
  • Clean up
  • Room accommodation
  • Cake cutting
  • Dance floor usage
  • Bartender

2. Build Good Management

Since catering service is usually an expansion of your restaurant operations to boost sales, this means that you need additional personnel. As much as possible, you must have dedicated management for the catering service alone.

Good management involves serving people beyond the restaurant’s environment. Since a catering business is dependent on the booking of clients, there can be a different type of handling involved.

Management may deal with emergencies and remember that there are many meals for dozens of people, compared to the store wherein a manager has to deal with one meal at a time. Aside from that, operations run only for a few hours with possibly a remote kitchen. There will be situations where compromise is tempting. It takes a good manager to keep it all handled.

3. Promote the Service

Nowadays, it is easy to promote your services. With the power of social media, you can reach a variety of audiences with a single post. You can capitalize on the reputation of your existing restaurant and market your catering service as an extension of the experience you usually offer.

Digital promotion is the new trend and so far, many have proven it to be highly effective. Be transparent of the specifics though and be careful not to tap on baiting tactics.

4. Train Staff

Now that you have good management, you know what’s next: the muscle. Your staff for your catering service is of a different breed from the staff operating at your store. There can be different skillsets involved and the amount of personnel is limited. One staff of your catering service might be doing a workload equivalent to 2 or more of your restaurant staff.

5. Invest in Beneficial Things

In catering service, you can invest in things that won’t affect the resources of your restaurant. You can start on utensils and focus on acquiring environment-friendly disposables compared to silverware. Aside from that, you can allot transportation dedicated to catering alone. There can be many things to invest on, as long as it makes your catering more efficient and effective.


Knowing the basics can lead your business to improve. Although it may be challenging in this pandemic period, you can still attain success by solidifying your foundation and working your way upward.

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