If you own a restaurant and are looking for ways to expand, you may be thinking of adding catering to your list of services. This can be a great move. Customers who have dined in with you in the past will enjoy being able to order your food for their parties and gatherings. As you expand into catering, however, there are a few tips and pieces of advice that are important to consider.
Make sure you have the right equipment
Since you have a restaurant, you already have a lot of equipment you need — such as pots, pans, and cold storage equipment. However, there is some additional equipment you need to make sure you add to your collection. You'll need insulated containers to transport the food in. You'll need serving utensils for your catering staff to take with them. You'll probably also need a few buffet setups with warmers and serving dishes.
Trim down your menu
You will probably want to offer some of the dishes that your restaurant is known for on your catering menu, as this is what will attract your existing customers. However, there are likely to be some menu items that don't really lend themselves to catering. Serving gourmet burgers off-site, for example, can be tough because the buns get soggy. Plus, juggling a really long menu won't be easy for your catering staff when they're just starting out. Select the top 5 to 10 items on your menu that you think will stand up to catering service, and stick with those for the time being.
Hire specific staff
Some members of your restaurant team may want to work catering too, but asking your kitchen staff to take on all of this extra responsibility is a bit much. So, you will want to hire some extra people to just focus on the catering. A separate chef and a few cooks, plus a team or two or three caterers who handle the deliveries and service, tends to be a good place to start. However, every business's needs are different, and you'll need to assess your own staffing needs to determine who you need to hire.
Catering can be a great way to expand your restaurant business. With a little innovation and the tips above, you can be well on your way. You and your restaurant staff will enjoy the variety, and your guests will appreciate it, too.