Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweat the Details When Choosing a Caterer

Here's a great article from the Palm Beach Post about what to consider when deciding on the right caterer for your party.  If you'd like to make a reservation with Bogart's for your next party or event, call Jamie at (561)395-7682

Sweat the details when choosing a caterer
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Steak or seafood? Wine or cocktails? Sit-down or buffet? Saturday or weekday?
Dozens of decisions add up when you're hiring a caterer. And in the end, you'll probably spend more than you intended, just like Mary-Ann Iskander, now a West Palm Beach resident who writes the WestPalmer blog.

Choosing a caterer

-Above all, sit down with the caterer and make sure you are comfortable with them. Did they listen to what you wanted? Were they flexible? Does their style mesh with the style of your party?

-Many people choose a caterer based on the price they want to pay, but there's more to price than the per-person rate.

-There are many things people may want from their special event that are part of the venue pricing in some places and add-on pricing in others. Want table-side wine service? You may have to pay for extra servers.  Want to use the audio-visual equipment? You may have to pay a fee. Want chairs and linens? Yes, even those dinner staples are extra with some venues and caterers.

-More importantly, price can get you quality: tastier food, service with a smile and spotless clean-up...You get what you pay for."

Saving money

-Be prepared to pay per guest. A cocktail party with passed hors d'oeuvres will cost $15 to $45 a person depending on the food and extras, and you may still have to pay for the service staff and equipment.

-Whether a wedding or other event, using non-traditional days like Thursday or Sunday and off-season months like July and August, will help cut the costs

-Buffets will use cost less than a sit-down dinner, and you can serve a special drink and wine rather than have a full bar.

-Most of the time if you're being trendy, you cannot also be thrifty. Popular add-ons are dessert tables and late-night buffets to round out a big party.

-The written proposal should include all charges: tax, service charge, whether you need to tip the staff, etc. 

Choosing your food

Maybe macaroni and cheese is the guest-of-honor's favorite food - feature it on each plate. To alleviate the issue of getting guests to choose an entree, you can serve two small entrees on one plate - a dual plate. 

-Feed your guests enough food for the time the event covers. Plan six to eight pieces of hors d'oeuvres per person per hour for a cocktail reception.
-Be aware that some things will cost you extra, like fees for a bartender, a chef station on a buffet or cake cutting fees of $2.50 to $5 a person

-Do you need a special menu: gluten-free, no nuts, vegetarian

What about a special theme?

-If you find the right caterer, you should be able to incorporate your theme into the food and decor. Just remember that if you want servers to wear costumes, it will have to be something that doesn't interfere with their job, Zeigler says. Go for a hat, a sash, a T-shirt with a slogan. And be prepared to pay for the special clothing.

-When you sit down to discuss it with the caterer, bring photos and examples. See if your caterer is receptive.

To read the full article click here.

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