Do you ever see stickers in restaurant windows displaying the different food delivery and restaurant catering companies they work with? These platforms and services are everywhere! And with expanding corporate budgets for catering and the convenience of delivery, demand is only growing.
Between direct-to-consumer or large format catering, there are lots of ways to reach hungry diners. Each company has different standards and procedures which can make it tough to keep up. But tapping into these new revenue streams – especially for slower meal periods – can be a game-changer for your bottom line.
There’s a lot to consider when setting up your restaurant with these platforms, so we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to get started. You’ll be set up for restaurant catering success in no time!
1) Dedicate staff to manage restaurant catering orders
Restaurant catering is no small feat if your kitchen is tiny and your staff is used to busy dinner rushes in smaller portions. Office catering orders are typically larger than your 4 or 6 person table, often feeding offices of 30, 60, even hundreds. Orders like this can sometimes take days of preparation and require trained staff to fulfill them.
The problem? Labor is expensive. And with a turnover rate over 70% across the restaurant industry in the US, it can seem like there are better things to focus on than investing in more bodies. In reality, turnover is expensive when you have to account for recruiting, hiring, and training. Investing in workers through training and learning opportunities keeps employees engaged longer.
Training staff (or better yet, hiring a dedicated catering team) can help your restaurant meet the demand for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of diners. When you’re down to the wire, the delivery will go much smoother with well-trained staff or extra hands to tend to minor details. Dedicated eyes on an order will keep your kitchen organized, on-time, and presented in the best way possible.
2) Nail down your operations
Executing a meal that tells the story you want to share takes a lot of work. But, well-trained staff are only as good as the training they receive. It’s crucial to nail down your restaurant catering operations so they can keep up with food and equipment orders and days-worth of prep. The key to restaurant catering success is developing a repeatable process no matter what is ordered or how many people you are feeding.
Restaurant catering training can include standardized procedures such as how far in advance cold and hot items should be prepped. Setting food safety procedures specifically for large orders is also a surefire way to deliver the highest quality meal possible.
Put your best food forward (pun intended!) by investing time into training and food prepping standards. Your team will deliver the best experience possible for diners, and of course, make your life easier later down the road!
Case Study: Bini’s Kitchen
Bini’s Kitchen in San Francisco is an excellent example of a restaurant that ramped up its catering operations through Chewse and other companies. A few years ago, freshly graduated from La Cocina, Bini wanted to expand her Nepali home-style cooking beyond farmer’s markets and food trucks. She partnered with restaurant catering companies to tap into high-volume catering, training employees on preparation, and cooking in massive quantities.
Fast forward a couple of years, Bini has now expanded to two walk-up kiosks and a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Between in-house sales and catering orders, her team of 15 dedicated momo-makers serves up 21,000 momos on average each week.
3) Know what works for you
It can be difficult to figure out how to translate your food to delivery. Individual boxed lunches? Extensive menu of crowd favorites or a pared-down version? Lunch only? The world is your oyster!
If you want to ramp up slowly, start out with menu items you can prep and execute in large quantities. Choose items strategically to make sure your team is well-equipped to serve meals consistently for every order.
If you decide to streamline your restaurant catering menu, try to feature crowd favorites and signature dishes. This is your chance to leave a lasting impression on diners outside of your daily restaurant guests and entice them to visit in person. Another way to strategize your menu is by cross-utilizing ingredients in different dishes. Doing so will help reduce food waste and cut down on food costs.
A lot goes into serving up a plate of food! So, nurturing close relationships with your food and equipment suppliers will help your bottom line while meeting the demand for large and on-demand orders. You’ll get great prices on bulk food items and provide the highest quality meals with the freshest ingredients.
Honorable mention tips
Tight operations, well-trained staff, and figuring out your bread-and-butter are only part of the equation. Investing in durable and biodegradable packaging (which doesn’t have to be that expensive!) keeps food secure and the planet happy. No one wants sauces and oils to leak on their lunch table so secure packaging makes sure food is kept safe from point A to B.
Additionally, developing good relationships with your platforms-of-choice can help your team clarify any last-minute questions, menu hiccups, or system improvements. It takes all of us to ensure diners are happy with their restaurant catering service. At Chewse, we take feedback seriously – it’s the only way we can offer stellar service! Our Restaurant team is always eager to receive and provide feedback for long-term success.
Benefits of restaurant catering
Partnering with restaurant catering companies provides more exposure and opens up more revenue streams, especially during slow meal periods. With Chewse, you focus on your craft while we handle the rest. You won’t have to worry about setting up a whole new space, marketing, or delivery logistics.