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The following excerpt is from the book "Start Your Own Restaurant and More" by Entrepreneur Media. Buy now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book if you use code SIDEHUSTLE2021 by 06/20/21.
Sound like your idea of having a good time working hard in the kitchen while everyone else is eating, drinking, and chatting in the living room? If your goal is to be in the hospitality industry, the answer should be a resounding yes.
Americans' love of food and entertainment has created a huge market for out-of-home caterers across the country. A wide range of social and business events offers caterers the opportunity to prepare delicious dishes and delicious prizes. In fact, mass catering has seen one of the strongest growth in the entire hospitality industry in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue.
Successful caterers are organized, consistent, and creative. You enjoy working in an environment that in some ways changes every day while in other ways it stays the same. While preparation, cleaning, and service often become routine, the places you travel to and the types of events you attend can vary widely. "Most restaurateurs hate catering for exactly the reason I love it: It's different every day," says Ann Crane, owner of Meyerhof’s Cuisine and Catering in Irvine, California. “A restaurateur is happy in a confined space where he is in control and doesn't have to worry about something leaving the building. With catering, you can get to the heart of your internal processes, but then you have to load everything into a truck and take it somewhere to set it up and you could lose control. ”Another attraction of catering is the strong relationship it has with customers. she says. “It's something very personal. Eating is a personal reflection of the host, be it in the corporate environment or at home. "
From the point of view of entry costs, catering is probably the most flexible of all catering businesses. While you need a commercial location, you can start small and build your equipment inventory as needed. You might even find an existing commercial kitchen to rent, as Maxine Turner did when she started Cuisine Unlimited, her catering operation in Salt Lake City. She worked in a school canteen for ten years before moving into her own commercial facility.
If you need something out of the ordinary at the beginning, like a champagne fountain for a wedding reception, you can usually rent it instead of buying it. And your food inventory is easy to control because in most cases you know in advance exactly how many people you are cooking for.
Off-premise caterers who bring the food to the customers – and not a catering department that works on-site in a hotel or convention center – can offer anything from gourmet breakfasts in bed for two to elegant dinners for 20 to charity events. Galas offer everything for more than 1,000 guests. Some caterers specialize in a certain type of food, e.g. B. cakes and pastries while others offer a wide range of services including flower arrangements, special props and costumes for theme parties and wedding coordination.
The three most important markets for out-of-home caterers are:
1. Corporate clients. The main need of this market is food for breakfast and lunch meetings, although there will be some demand for cocktail parties and dinners. Service can range from simply preparing a plate of food that will be delivered to the client's offices or a nearby location, to cooking an elaborate meal and arranging it at the meeting point.
2. Social events. Millions of dollars are spent on wedding receptions each year – much of that is spent on food. Other special events that are commonly held include bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversary dinners, birthday parties, and graduation ceremonies.
3. Cultural Organizations. Opera houses, museums, symphonies, and other cultural and community organizations often host events ranging from light hors d & # 39; oeuvres to formal dinners, sometimes for several thousand people.
You will find a tremendous overlap between these market groups. Turner started out with a mainly business clientele, serving continental breakfasts and packed lunches. As their business grew, corporate clients started hiring them for their personal social events such as weddings and parties. And while she's still making simple breakfast and lunch, she's also catered for events like the celebration of the 100th episode of the hit TV series Touched by an Angel, which was filmed in Salt Lake City.
There are of course a variety of other markets and specialties. You can cook for people with certain dietary restrictions, such as: B. with kosher, macrobiotic, gluten-free or other special requirements for the preparation of food. You can focus on afternoon tea, celebratory breakfasts, or even picnic baskets. Another popular niche market is cooking for dual-career couples who don't have time to cook for themselves. You can either go to their home and prepare meals there, or cook in your own facility and deliver the food ready to serve. Another option is to offer pre-cooked meals for several days or a week that your customers can simply reheat and serve. Let your imagination run wild on possible market ideas, then do some basic market research to see what is likely to work in your area. You can also see which caterers are already serving your region.
Top caterers can charge and get top prices for their services – but you and your food must be top quality. You should also keep an eye on some general market trends. Dissolute meals and copious meals are largely a thing of the past. Nowadays people eat less beef and more poultry and fish, and drink less brandy and more beer and wine. They're also more concerned about the bottom line than they used to be. Many caterers say these trends have forced them to be more creative cooks, working with spices and ethnic dishes rather than rich sauces.
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