or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apps for 500 on a budget?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
My question is as follows;
I was recently contacted by a potential client that is looking to do an art show with 500 guests. They're interested in light appetizer's that would include a total of around 3-4 items and one of them could be a fancy dip. All "finger type foods". The event will last for three hours (6pm-9pm) and all apps will sit at room temp (no heating treys or ice). It is for a drop off style, and we won't provide any linens, dinner ware, or even drinks… Food only.

So here's the kicker.... they only have $700.00 to spend. I have very little experience with appetizers only. My gut tells me that there’s no way to feed that many people at $1.40/head without totally running out of product. But, my primary experience is with dinners, lunches etc.
Should I just walk away from something like this? Or does this not sound so unrealistic to those who have done something similar in the past?

Any information would be greatly appreciated!
BTW… I’m thrilled to have found this site. I’ve been BBQ catering for about the last 4 years, and was turned on to this site by a friend in the biz. I hope that I can contribute as much information as I can gain!

Cheers!:beer:
post #2 of 19

Why are you considering this?

Yikes! You can't get a soda at a fast food place for that price!
RUN!!!!
post #3 of 19
Massive quantities of flavored hummos and pita chips.
You can make a whole lot of hummos for $15-20

Several wheels of brie with some fruit goo on top
Crostinis
$70ish

Sugar Snaps blanched with a non oily drizzle or dunk
$40


pinwheel roll ups if you do them......


Whatever you make should not be labor intensive.....
I'd not want my name near it, that being said there are alot of people asking for food donations all the time, some of the things listed above show up at the freeby parties.

Anything you can piggy back on.......last week I had extra heirloom tomatoes from a party and made gazpacho with them. We had alot of caponata and hummos at the kitchen. Sometimes you just make extra and it's not expontial work...

Chicken skewers are fairly inexpensive to make, it's just you are not manning the party so 3+ hours for chicken is not a good idea.

You can make money on it if you want to.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #4 of 19
If that $700.00 includes your profit, have a beer instead of doing it.

I also want to eat fresh lobster for $1.00 lb., but it aint happening:bounce:
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
post #5 of 19
Always go with your gut, in all aspects of life. It's the only thing including yourself, that won't lie to you.
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
post #6 of 19

500 people 3 hours?? $700.00 impossible

Haveing been in catering business over 40 years. I am telling you DO NOT DUE THIS FUNCTION. Here is why.
1. It is for 3 more 4 hours
2.It is from 6pm(dinner time)to 9pm, people will come hungry and have not had dinner.
3.They are trying to do it as cheap as they can and if they run out(which you will) have you to blame, and its your reputation.
4.Figureing the bare minimum of 3 Hors d per hour thats 9 total ,times 500 people is 4500 pieces is less then 16 cents per. You cant even serve chips and peanuts for this,let alone make any money.
I would graciously bow out, tell them to buy themselves some salsa and chips and thats it.
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thankyou! Thankyou!

Wow, great replies and information! Thank you for all for the responses!

Sounds like I will walk away from it.
post #8 of 19
Let me get this straight. It's unstaffed drop off food, right?
They will refill the platters during the evening or put out new platters/bowls.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #9 of 19
I really wouldn't. Consider your time doing dishes, power and gas bill, gas for the van, time for delivery and pickup, putting in the order, writing the contract, and the actual time you use preparing the stuff. That's like $300 right there at least.
post #10 of 19
plus paper cost, napkins, plates, flatwear, and platters.
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
Reply
post #11 of 19
budget event.....

they are doing beverages, so they have napkins.

low budget=they supply the napkins for finger food...there are no plates, forks etc.

Disposable platters

They pickup from your kitchen, or there is a delivery fee.

There are ways you can do it if you need to and clear several hundred dollars. Depends on if this is a slow time and you need the money or the exact opposite it's busy and it can piggyback on work you are already doing.

LOW BUDGET......unfortunately I'm familiar with this term all too well.
Some non-profits or benefits give unrealistic budgets.....so if it works out (read above) I take it.

Again, this is just a food drop off on disposable platters....no staff, no equipment per se, no papergoods, just X amount of food they deal with.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
I actually spoke with the client this afternoon. She completely understood that there just wasn't left over after costs for it to be worth it. Of course I didn't use those exact words, but all the same. She told me that several of the other catering companies replied with two dips, chips and pita bread. So she wasn't surprised by my response.

I also learned (during that conversation) that most of the guests will only stay around 30-45mins or so. And that they typically run out of food for their events? That I found surprising. They are a non-for profit group, and do generally work on a budget. Although, she said that this was a much smaller budget than in the past. Sounds like there are some new chiefs in charge that need to realize that the quality (and quantity) of the foods they serve are going be much less satisfying than events in the past if the budget stays that tight.

I have plenty of trouble saying no sometimes. But after some thought and especially after hearing all of the educated responses... this one was easy. Not too mention, I don't want to be "that" caterer. "Wow the food ran out really early.. Who was the caterer?" or "Just dips and chips? Don't think we'll be using those guys again.". I'll let someone else be "that guy".
post #13 of 19
yikes!

yeh
that would be a

no from me.

tell her to come back to you when she has all the money.
post #14 of 19
Unless I was busy elsewhere, I'd certainly do it. Like shroom said, lots of hummus and pita chips, roasted corn and black bean salsa with tortilla chips, some carrots, celery, scallions. Maybe a dessert platter with small inexpensive cookies. I'd make the food look really nice when I dropped it off- keeping the back ups hidden so they're forced to replenish rather than leave it out getting crusty. I think $200 food cost would be high for this event with the items mentioned. I'd take the $500 and put it in my pocket. What about 10 pound bag of chicken tenders at SAm's for under $20 cubed and marinated. Stick them on toothpicks with a chunk of pineapple or a basil leaf, buffalo marinade with BC dipping sauce.
post #15 of 19
When you read the responses it is apparent who has their own small catering company and who works for a large one.

Not all things are equal, in that some posters on this thread have enough to not worry about a quick $700 gig.....for others it's gravy, easy money. Does not detract otherwise from what we do on a regular basis.


You are looking at a few hours labor, nominal food costs, potential foot in the door. Just don't put your business cards out nor any distinguishing signage shtuff. Few ask at these events who catered.....Only if your staff and signage are present would they even know.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #16 of 19
Exactly! I'd just as soon take the money as someone else. I do some really nice things and have a great reputation in the area. That doesn't mean I have $10K weddings every weekend, either. That $500 would fill my heating fuel tank - well half fill it, anyway.:eek:
post #17 of 19
The way we got to be the largest social on and off premise caterer in the U.S (11 1/2 million dollar gross is by turning down gigs like this. We didn"t have to worry about the sponsors of the art show. as they new what they were paying for and getting. Our main concern was our reputation to the other 690 guest who may have said to themselves "they are out of food, what cheap junk who is the caterer? No way do I want to be associated with this..Good fund raisers over the years have learned, give quality and you will take in more.
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #18 of 19

good turn down

My 2 cents: not all business is good business. With all due respect, there is a reason why you get a lot of calls for budget events. If you take one it will spread like wild fire in the non profit world that you will do these type of events. The only way I would accept a budget catering like this, if the end of the year dinner contract came with it or I did all the labor myself and had nothing going on that weekend. That means no way this time of year. Putting your name on an event like this for a couple hundred dollars(if that) is not a wise choice.
Events like this take away from the important things such as profitable caterings, time with family, employee moral.

I feel you did the right thing.

Jimmie
"Can't stand the heat call JJ"S Kitchen"

JJ's (Almost Famous BBQ)
Reply
"Can't stand the heat call JJ"S Kitchen"

JJ's (Almost Famous BBQ)
Reply
post #19 of 19
Listen to shroomgirl, first and foremost!

Then I would look at what else I was doing that day(week) for other events. Your production for another party may be able to be scaled for this group - at least the nice parts. Then, Sysco nub baby carrots, cut green beans, grape tomatoes, green onions, etc can be a low or no labor veggie extravaganza. Get two types of bread - baguette and focaccia - and slice so they look different, then make crostini. Leftover bread is even better. Make two or three dips from veg in your cooler, then add Ranch Dressing and Boursin cheese to the offering. Finally, tell them that you're making "snacks" for at most 2 hours, at their risk.

At the most, you'll make $150 on this, but that's real money sometimes.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Catering