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Getting Into Catering

dimeMost restaurants have or would live to have a thriving catering business to augment sales.  A restaurant with a successful catering business typically increases sales sales by10% to 20%.  Here is a great article with advice from experienced caters on equipment, deposits, and marketing.  

“Our biggest catering customers are schools, offices and churches,” says Preston. “We market our service on our menus, on the Web, in the paper, and in schools and offices. We also hand out catering information at functions, feature it in our EClub newsletter, visit local businesses and leave info (then follow up with a phone call), and get involved in local charity events.” If you’re worried about spending too much money on advertising in the beginning, Skvorecz says, “Start slow and advertise to your existing customers by printing out your offerings and placing an easily visible sign on your countertop. Get through a holiday period and see how it goes; then consider expanding your ads into the Sunday paper or other media.” The possibilities for game days alone are amazing, according to Skvorecz. You can free up a lot of your time on days such as Super Bowl Sunday if customers have called ahead to cater their parties and already have their food before the game even starts.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the proper equipment,” says Preston. “Keep your hot food hot and your cold food cold with a stackable Cambro (hot box); invest in midto high-quality chafing dishes; and don’t forget your canned heat! Make sure all catering platters, plates, flatware and serving utensils are kept in storage, and never (unless you want to buy more) put them into restaurant/pizzeria circulation.” Preston also advises being a stickler for details: “Be sure to qualify special requests and leave no loose ends,” he says. “The devil is in the details; I use email, which gives me a written record, which wins all discussions.” Get a deposit, too: “I shoot for 50% and will accept no less than 25%,” he says. “Of course, that can change with repeat customers.”

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.


  1. I’m a multi-unit Jersey Mike’s Subs franchisee and our catering sales suffer from lack of manpower. Most large catering orders require delivery, setup, server, and cleanup, but frankly that is not easy for me to coordinate staffwise. So our catering tends to be smaller batches for parties and group meetings.

  2. I like the catering add on. One of the few franchise food operations I am very positive on is in large part because of how much value is driven by its catering operations.

    Not every food lends itself to catering readily, some are far more cost effective than others. And there are quality control issues that need to be considered. Chinese, Pasta, BBQ among others are items that can, in general, maintain their quality and are very cost effective to cater.


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