If you've been running a restaurant for a while and are looking for ways to expand, you may be thinking of starting to offer catering services. Your loyal customers who have come to love your restaurant food will surely enjoy being able to order it off-site for parties and gatherings, too. Here are a few tips that should serve you well as you start to expand into catering.
Don't offer everything on your current menu.
Your first thought may be to simply offer the same dishes you offer at your restaurant for your catering services. But unless you have a very basic restaurant menu, this is probably too much. Likely, not everything on your menu is suitable to be made in large batches, and some things won't travel well. Spend some time thinking through your options, and select only a few items to offer at first. These should be favorites among your customers, but they should also be dishes your kitchen crew can make in large quantities comfortably.
Hire more staff.
If you have a lot of part-time staff members who would like to work more hours, then you may be able to expand into catering with the staff you have. But usually, it is best to hire new staff when you expand into catering. This way, catering staff can focus on their catering jobs, and your ordinary restaurant staff can focus on their restaurant jobs. There will be fewer scheduling conflicts with separate personnel, too.
Check with your local health department.
In many areas, health departments require a separate permit for restaurants that offer catering. To receive this permit, you may need to show that you have the proper equipment to keep food warm and sanitary during transportation. So, before you begin doing any catering work, contact your local health department and make them aware of the change. You may have to spend a little time satisfying their requirements before you can officially start offering catering.
Decide whether you're going to serve off-site.
Some catering companies simply drop the food off for customers to serve themselves. Others send staff to serve the food. Either approach is fine, but make sure you decide on an approach early on, as it will impact the staff you hire and the equipment you buy.
Expanding into catering can be a good way to expand your restaurant. Just keep the advice above in mind as you make this big move.