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The cost to Cater...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am planning a family reunion for my family for next summer (mid June 2015).

I would like to have the reunion catered and hosted by professionals. I'm trying to calculate how much money each family should contribute to the cost of the event by gathering information from professionals who cater events.

If all goes as planned, I'm expecting to feed about 150-200 people.
I would like a buffet style set up so people can eat as much they please.
Menu Items would be the standard soul food items:

Short Ribs
Chicken parts (Fried & Grilled)
Hot Links
Hamburgers
Hot dogs
Hot Wings/ Bbq wings
Hot dog& hamburger buns
rolls or cornbread muffins


Mac n Cheese
Baked Beans
Potatoe Salad
Corn On the Cob
Green salad w/condiments
Red Beans n Rice
Alfredo pasta w/chicken n broccoli

Currently undecided on who will supply the desserts.

Food warmers and chaffers will need to be supplied by the catering company as well as the serving utensils. We will provide all the plates, eating utensils and napkins and drinks.

I'm not sure if I'm missing anything for the above food. If so please let me know.

For of the above menu what would it cost to have someone with a staff of about 3-4 work the entire day at the event maintaining the food, serving ect....
post #2 of 17

Firstly, being as how you have your menu planned pretty thoroughly, I'm a bit confused why you're here asking

what caterers charge. Why not simply call caterers in your area, outline the gig as you did here and ask them for a

price proposal? 

 

Secondly, I can easily handle  150-200 guests, buffet service,  with myself and one other person. Sure its nice to

have a third to be a runner when things run out, etc, but not necessary. 

 

Thirdly, I learned long ago not to trust a client who promises to provide essential items like plates, napkins and

utensils.  I've simply been burnt too many times, typically delaying the service time (once it was over an HOUR)

while "My sister Mable should be here with the utensils any time now. I'll try calling her again."

I therefore began ALWAYS bringing all service ware items with me, and yes, I charged for it, no discount for client

promises. Once they learned it made little difference in the price they usually told me what they wanted and I

procured it. :) 

post #3 of 17
Id say 30ish per person.its a lot of meat. 6,000$ ++

A lot if dishes in general. 13 dishes and dessert. Looks good. No seafood....

Why not have one caterer supply all food including dessert, its the same kind of problem as Meez mentioned about promises. Nothing better than fixing another caterers desserts at the " end" of the day. Or they are a no show and it looks bad on the entree caterer. Or there dessert sucks. Or all the above ha.

Meez, you can handle the 200 yourself. Its a buffet. I suppose someone to do the hauling and washing couldnt hurt. Me personally I'd bring some people. Depends if prep is done on site I and cooking.

Whats the venue?

Meez, other caterers; if you are doing this buffet do you charge for the food plus the plate, linen, glassware and cutlery rental? That would be an extra what, 8$ each? Charge for cleanup too?
Do you build the grat into the quote as well? Charge for chaffers, coffee, tea? Coffee was the hardest part of my last large off site, went through 3 power outlets. Need to make sure you have the proper breakers!
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your replies... Meez I'm a woman of my word and and if I say I'm bringing something it will be there with me as I said it would be. I would not pay a catering co to supply something I will be supplying. The purpose of posting on this site opposed to calling different places is because it's more convenient for me. I'd like to get an idea of multiple people's cost to see what the median amount will be so I can get a general idea.

I appreciate the feed back...
post #5 of 17

Most caterers are 'complete' service---so anything that is needed to serve the foods is going to be included in the cost--and not an option.

 

 

This might be different if you are simply picking up a given number of pans of food at the caterers kitchen-

-but if the caterer is going to set up the buffets,ready for service---Expect the caterer to provide everything.

 

 

For that sized group, I would want two double sided buffets--or the lines will be so long that the guest will heap up the plates with to much food,

 

knowing that a trip back for seconds would be hopeless---

 

I suggest you call a couple of local caterers and let them talk--listen to their suggestions--they have the experience with groups of that size and

should be able to guide your selections and serving methods---

 

We had some really good menus for family reunions---most popular were cooked on the grill--this put on a nice show and kept the atmosphere casual and friendly---

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeswoods View Post
 

Most caterers are 'complete' service---so anything that is needed to serve the foods is going to be included in the cost--and not an option.

 

That is exactly right--included in the cost, not an option, and not itemized as such.

Thank you Mike for thimbalizing that!

Price quote based on providing full service. Once you start fragmenting the components, letting clients pick and

choose what they provide vs what you provide, and negotiate price reductions accordingly, you're sabotaging the

smooth running vessel.

And when it doesn't go right, even when it's because the client didn't bring or provide something, no one

knows this. The caterer looks bad, and reputation suffers. It's not a judgement of someone's word or

integrity. It's the fact that "Murphy" can be a vindictive bastid. 

post #7 of 17
Quote:
 We will provide all the plates, eating utensils and napkins
 

As others have stated, most caterers will provide all that included in their price. It is like going to restaurant, where as a normal course of business, you are provided with all of that included in the price. There is no real advantage to providing your own, only added hassle and possible snags to you on a day that you are supposed to be enjoying your family without being distracted by a myriad of planning details.

 

Also don't forget the fact that if you provide all that, you wash all that!!!

 

Also no matter how careful and professional catering staff is, plates do get broken, forks do wind up in the trash, etc.

 

Let the caterer do, what caterers do. That is why you hired them in the first place.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #8 of 17
Seems like the client in this situemation Nycai26, isnt getting the answer to their question. How much are yall charging?


Plates or no plates like that really matters much. Bring plates and napkins for backup if you are inclined but the client in my opinion is right in having the option to use their own.

Catering in my mind is me filling a need and if someone wants me to use their bone china, I'll use it. Want your special minnie mouse paper plates you picked up at the dollar store? Sure! Ha. It takes all kinds. You have matching napkins? Great. Im probably not taking any money off the price of my food and in fact people dont usually ask me to.

I am not a large catering company ( can handle 200+ but I dont cater outside function a lot) obviously this skews my POV to the customers side because that is my main goal, serving the clients needs.

I think the bigger companies get the more rules and procedures and streamlined it gets, rightly so. I hope to get ther as well someday. However, even when the larger catering company ( Hotel) I work for does an offsite catering we will use the dishes provided if asked to.

Why take your own dishes to a different venue that is fully stocked and wants you using their stuff? Im just not fully understanding the hardlined "we provide everything" approach. Your invited to cater the white house; your going to insist they use your utensils? Ha. Just an example to see how Im seeing things. People tend to have nice plates or have it rented already something in mind or a million different scenarios could come up.
post #9 of 17
Quote:

Plates or no plates like that really matters much. Bring plates and napkins for backup if you are inclined but the client

in my opinion is right in having the option to use their own.

Exactly. And those backups are figured into the overall cost. :) I've never had a problem with a client providing their own....

ANYthing really. Just don't expect me to leave mine at home, and dont expect a big cost break because of it. The basic service

provides certain things--that's just one of them. 

Quote:

Why take your own dishes to a different venue that is fully stocked and wants you using their stuff? Im just not fully understanding the

hardlined "we provide everything" approach. Your invited to cater the white house; your going to insist they use your utensils? Ha. 

No. I wasn't talking about china and silver and bone tea cups, Chefboy. I meant disposables. Real china and utinsels and linens

would fall under extras, specifically rentals, either from me, or through me as a middle man. If the client says "I want to use my

Grandma Margie's really nice china and silver, and our linen napkins with solid gold napkin rings", well that's perfectly fine.

So long as they sign a wavier absolving me of responsibility for loss or damage during the event, we're golden. And I'll still

have my nicer, disposable backups with me just in case. :D Same with the Sponge Bob plates and napkins. You use yours, I'll 

have mine handy. If that doesn' "seem right, cuz they're included somewhere in the cost, there are other ways we can discount you. 

The mentality here is "self-containment"-- once you're at the event site, you can rarely "go back" for something you forgot or now

need--even if the event is fairly local. You're usually just too busy, or can't spare the manpower.

 

Quote:
Seems like the client in this situemation Nycai26, isnt getting the answer to their question. How much are yall charging?"

Well not all necessary info was given, but being as OP is in my own area, (presumably LA, Orange or San Diego counties) I'll have a

lash...thumbnail of course....since I'm curious now. :)

 

First it's a lot of food, so food cost will be inordinately high. The good news is there's nothing very expensive.  I see essentially

1 app,  6 main dishes, 5 side dishes, salad &  bread. (I consider the chicken/broccoli alfredo a main dish) My standard for a served

buffet is no apps, 2 meat-mains, 2 sides (usually a starch and a veg) , salad and bread, drinks, coffee if requested and 2 desserts, (1

choc, 1 other). Disposable service ware. One hour and a half of serving.  So extra charges  for apps, extra sides, extra mains,

extended service time, real china/silverware, and real linens. (as opposed to vinyl)

 

In my experience when going through such a menu with a client, they realize they really don't need all that food, because a plate

will only hold so much--as will stomachs. So what you're really providing is a smorgasbord of choices, with a lot of food left over.

Which the client is paying for, so logic usually wins and the menu is reduced.

 

But...assuming that's not the case here, the two highest cost mains would be the ribs and chicken, so those would be included.

Sides would be a choice of any two of those, I don't care. And for that menu for 200 GHCount, I'd throw in the wings complimentary.

So, rough estimate on standard service plus the extra sides and entree's comes out to $22.40 per person, or about $4,480.00  total.

post #10 of 17

This member is still in the planning stage and is learning from us,I hope.

 

NYCia26 hit a couple of hot buttons amongst the pros here---

 

Hopefully she has gotten a little insight into the way a caterer works and thinks--

 

Number one----when a customer wants something done that puts the caterer at risk (providing serving ware) the cost savings will be nil.

 

When food from another vender might be provided (deserts ) the caterer might pass on the job due to possible liability issues (food born illness)

 

Creating a menu before consulting with the preferred caterer---this can lead to two things----an elevated price because the caterer is unsure of the

typical consumption of the unfamiliar entrees--or the caterer will not wish to bid on the job at all.

 

I hope this thread has taught a thing or two----

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeswoods View Post

This member is still in the planning stage and is learning from us,I hope.

I hope this thread has taught a thing or two---
I presume you are referring to me Mike? Please. Don't be so naive. Ive been catering for years. rude.

Ah well pick me apart some more if you will, I AM here to learn also. show me the way ha.

Ive learned a thing or two, and I will run my business my way thank you very much. And yes I have a business plan how many business plans have you written? Care to share it with me?

Meez; thank you for your kind PM, you are very gracious. And Mike I will continue to post here, please; enjoy.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefboyOG View Post


I presume you are referring to me Mike? Please. Don't be so naive. Ive been catering for years. rude.

Ah well pick me apart some more if you will, I AM here to learn also. show me the way ha.

Ive learned a thing or two, and I will run my business my way thank you very much. And yes I have a business plan how many business plans have you written? Care to share it with me?

Meez; thank you for your kind PM, you are very gracious. And Mike I will continue to post here, please; enjoy.


I can't answer for @Mikeswoods but I read it as the member he was referring to was @Nycai26.

 

Often times, I find that it is not "all about me", despite what my frail ego will is telling me.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #13 of 17
Yeah you are right I am having a bad day.

I think Im really missing that 1 hr its saving time today. Gah. Sorry ha.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeswoods View Post
 

This member is still in the planning stage and is learning from us,I hope.

 

NYCia26 hit a couple of hot buttons amongst the pros here---

 

Hopefully she has gotten a little insight into the way a caterer works and thinks--

 

Number one----when a customer wants something done that puts the caterer at risk (providing serving ware) the cost savings will be nil.

 

When food from another vender might be provided (deserts ) the caterer might pass on the job due to possible liability issues (food born illness)

 

Creating a menu before consulting with the preferred caterer---this can lead to two things----an elevated price because the caterer is unsure of the

typical consumption of the unfamiliar entrees--or the caterer will not wish to bid on the job at all.

 

I hope this thread has taught a thing or two----

Exactly right on several points. You kind of have to make enough of each entree to feed the entire party, or you get unhappy guests, when 

say, they finally get there from the end of the line and the Chicken Alfredo is all gone. So when you have enough to feed say, 160 people

out of 200, times SIX entrees and FIVE sides, well that's actually enough food for several hundred people. The result is a lot left in your pans

and boxes. If that's what they really want, they can of course be accommodated. But most would-be clients think all that "variety" is good, until 

it's explained to them like that. 

 

And you're also right that I and others might simply pass on that menu, due to needing more people to handle and maintain it...

it all just brings the price too high for what it is, and my estimate was no doubt low. (always is when I guesstimate ) 

Which brings up another point, the best style of service. Though OP didn't specify self service, reference was made to "can eat

as much they please" , as well as all-day-long service.

Which hints at an AYCE buffet emulation, such as China Buffet etc. While OP's expanded menu lends itself ok to this type service,

should the menu be reduced to 2 or 3 meat mains and 2 or 3 sides,  then IMO its far wiser to control meat portions by using main

dish serving stations. Putting trays of meat mains out for 200 to help themselves can get you into trouble, it's certainly happened to

me more than once. 

 

Finally, point also well taken about sharing a venue/event with another caterer. Unless I know them, I'm wary, not only liability and

other reasons, but the tendency to try to "show up" the competitor and win over the new referrals can be distracting......

and unprofessional IMO. 

post #15 of 17
Finally jumping in just as the party is winding down......
I get the whole idea of having an abundance of food so everyone can eat until they bust a gut but then you get into the whole time and temp problem, right?
So do we have some back up pans waiting in the wings?
Being held "in the safe zone" waiting to be heated to the correct temp and switched out with the now unsafe to consume leftovers (just sitting there waiting to inflict pain and suffering upon the unsuspecting guests) ....hmmmm?
So boom boom there goes the food cost escalating once again.

mimi
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Finally jumping in just as the party is winding down......

Which means you get to pick up the tab Mimi. Good thing its not a REAL party eh? 


 

Quote:

So do we have some back up pans waiting in the wings?
Being held "in the safe zone" waiting to be heated to the correct temp and switched out with the now unsafe to consume

leftovers (just sitting there waiting to inflict pain and suffering upon the unsuspecting guests) ....hmmmm?

But of course! That's what Cambro boxes are for.:rolleyes:

Another method being, provided you brought enough chaffer setups, is to keep a backup pan next to the active pan, with a foil

top or tight lid on it. Plus an electrical ZAP wire, so them nosey guests don't go messin' with it! (happens all the time--ARGH!) 

Anywho, everything stays at or above 135°F as per the man with the clipboard and pen!

post #17 of 17
I have never catered a family reunion but have been to many.
Showed up very late to one (way more than fashionable) and someone insisted on bringing me a plate.
Was on my way to our beach place for a week.
Spent the next two days shall we say indisposed.....
Buffets have never been my favorite form of service.

mimi
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