I am starting an event decor rental and ice sculpture business. I have a BS degree in Hospitality Management and have owned my own restaurant, which I went broke financially and physically in. I am now trying to start over and build this business up on a shoestring. I am a cook and very passionate about it and I also love decorating tablescapes for events. I would love to get into catering but with having to have a commercial kitchen and all the expenses that goes with it is just not in my budget right now.
My question is an idea I found on someone's web site for event services. They list catering and when I clicked to see what they offered, it said that their menu was provided by a famous local restaurant. They have the menu to pick dishes and the price person person just like any other caterer would have. They just aren't cooking it.
I was thinking this may be a way to make some extra money with my event service doing catering but without having to have the commercial kitchen. What do you think? I am trying to figure out how this could be a win win situation for both me and the restaurant. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
#1. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 0
It sounds fine - you're just outsourcing the cooking. Have you talked to any of your local restaurants yet to see whether any of them would be interested in providing such services? Not all restaurants have the capacity to provide so many meals in one day. So, you would really need to talk to a couple. Also, would they be willing to give you price breaks so that you could actually offer affordable services?
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#2. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 1
I agree. That would be a great idea. I would also choose 2-5 restaurants to feature at most in order to avoid overwhelming people with too many choices. What if you also provided paper utensils and decorations for the event? You could require a minimum deposit up front that would give you the cash flow to buy the materials.
#3. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 2
Thanks to you guys that responded. I had never heard of anyone catering that didn't cook the food themselves until I came across the website for this event services out of south Louisianna. And yes, I do plan to provide the table decor and set-up. I already have several chaffing pans and other catering dishes. I am wanting to also build up inventory to rent table and chair linens and maybe a chocolate fountain also.
#4. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 0 Mon Sep-28-09 07:46 AM by Pepperfire
I think this is a lovely idea and a very good way to get around having to have your own kitchen.
Here are my questions; more for you to think about than for you to answer to me...
Will your customers know who the restaurants are? Because I don't think you have to tell them who the chef is, and this leaves you free to brand yourself without being married to a chef who may or may not leave a particular restaurant over time. You may want to marry yourself to the restaurant and/or the chef in exchange for discounting because, in essence, you'll be marketing their restaurant if it's their brand you're working under.
What if the restaurant you've been working with suddenly goes out of business... what is your backup plan?
Who is ensuring that the kitchen you are "fronting" is inspected? Will you be allowed to do spot checks every now and again?
My thoughts that will help you move forward...
I'm not sure where you are, but you will want to have a chat with the lovely folks at the end of the phone for the FDA to find out what sort of licensing and registration you WILL need. Don't be afraid to ask them all sorts of stupid questions, they are really very helpful in making sure you are in compliance from the get go. Also, if State administrators come into play, get cozy with them.
My personal experience has shown that even if you aren't compliant when they do inspect you, if they are aware that you did everything in your power to BE compliant, they will help you get that way without treating you like a criminal. So your best friends are the compliance people you have to deal with.
Good luck with it. It sounds like it should be a fun business.
#5. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 4
Thanks Tina for your reply. I was thinking of asking the owners of my former restaurant since I helped them to get it back open when they started it. They have deep pockets and revamped the whole restaurant and added an upstairs lounge. I am frinds with the family and don't think I would have a problem with their kitchen being unsanitary, they know how crazy I am about keeping things clean and compliant with the local health department, which is the office that inspects all restaurants in our area.
I was just wondering if it was acceptable for a caterer to do this and if it would be profitable for myself as well as the restaurant. I am from south Mississippi about sixty miles from the Gulf Coast.
I had planned to talk to the health dept. to see if I would need a catering license since I wouldn't be cooking the food, just delivering and setting up at the event. Why would the FDA be involved?
#6. "RE: Catering idea, need help" In response to Reply # 5
>I had planned to talk to the health dept. to see if I would >need a catering license since I wouldn't be cooking the food, >just delivering and setting up at the event. Why would the FDA >be involved?
FDA... health department... I'm afraid I don't know who the people to talk to are down there. I'm here in Canada.