Catering Tips, Tricks, and Products

I’ve been on all sides of the catering business. As a patron, I’ve reaped the benefits of the seemingly endless spoils of catering. As a worker, I have worked for a major food chain as they adopted a catering program and worked at a bar that catered many graduation parties. Now, I’m a PJP employee working among all the tools restaurants need for catering.

Time Management & Prep

Often overlooked is the extra time, space, and labor needed for a healthy catering business. If you own or manage a restaurant that offers catering services, it’s pertinent that you set time and space aside for your catering duties. Factor in the quantities of prep work necessary to prep for both regular business and catering to avoid doing the same tasks twice.

When designing your catering menu, consider the amount of fridge space available. Often catering platters will need to be preserved for long periods of time waiting for pick-up. Offering dishes that are easy to store and retain their flavor when re-heated will make life much easier. Fridge space can be difficult to make more of, consider an insulated food carrier specifically for your catering needs.

Go Easy on the Dishwasher

Catering events can get messy. To-go catering creates dirty equipment in the back of house and hosting a catered event can create a nightmare for your dishwasher. To minimize the stress, consider ways to cut down on minimize the influx of dishes and the severity of the cleaning necessary. Utilizing pan liners could save your dishwasher from frustrating minutes spent scrubbing pans of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. This can keep the kitchen flowing at it’s regular pace during potentially busy hours.

Staff Appropriately

Are you responsible for delivering your catering? When do you prep? Are you hosting an event? The time your company spends preparing, serving, and delivering for the catering portion of your business will likely take place during regular business hours. It’s important to staff appropriately.

If hosting a catered event at your establishment, make sure that the tip is included with the event cost, and devote at least one server to the event. The same principle goes for off-site delivery, be sure to staff a trustworthy delivery driver or have a manager with some free time!

Off-Site Catering

The catering business is a high-pressure business. Catering customers are often event planners, managers, or average Joe’s hosting parties that mean a lot to them. Taking the extra steps to make sure the customer’s order is correct is essential. Equally as important is setting your customers up for success with the correct packaging and appliances. Be sure that you are using sturdy and reliable packaging, ensure that hoagie trays are locked in and reliable, and prevent leaks and spills.

Providing single-use plates, cutlery, and tongs is a sure-fire way to stand out amongst the competition. If you can cut back on the amount of work that your customers must do, you will be doing them a huge favor.

Standing Out

Innovation is present in the catering business. There are new ideas sprouting everyday to make things easier for restaurant managers. PJP offers the Sterno SpeedHeat Flameless Catering System, an alternative to the standard chafers, flames, and accessories. The Sterno SpeedHeat System is lightweight, easy, and perfect for places subject to open flame restrictions. They are single-use and great for drop-off catering!


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Steve Norris


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