As catering sales for both business and consumer-oriented social occasions continue to increase, restaurants and other foodservice operators keep finding they have more opportunity than ever to boost their drop-off and on-demand delivery services.
Technomic Talks: Catering
Technomic. Sales for business catering has increased 7.2 percent per year since 2012, compared to 6 percent for consumer catering. Technomic attributes this growth to the lingering effects of the recent recession when the last study was conducted, and to convenience-seeking, socially-oriented Millennials who would rather order from their favorite restaurants than traditional caterers.During the past three years, sales of drop-off catering packages for both consumer social and business occasions increased 20 percent to a whopping $52.3 billion, according to
More restaurants have been able to expand delivery services through an explosion of third-party companies like leaders GrubHub and Seamless and newcomers Door Dash, DeliverHero and Postmates, the latter of which uses drivers as well as messengers on foot and bike for making fast deliveries via an app for food and non-food needs. Pinkberry, FOCUS Brands and even Starbucks have partnered with Postmates to offer or test delivery in some markets.
Trends in catering buffet setups continue to evolve, says Kathy Ruff, founder of Tablescapes, a Chicago-based, full-scale rental service supplying everything from unique pearl caviar spoons to tables and chairs to back-of-the-house equipment and supplies for caterers and chefs. “Customers are looking for homier, eclectic pieces that make the setting feel like a dinner party with their own signature style rather than just a banquet,” she says. “The trend is to have rental pieces that don’t look rented, so we always try to push the edge and look at things differently.”
In: Farmhouse chic, rustic elegance, mini serving vessels with petite silverware, mix-and-match plates, tables and chairs, wrought iron metal fixtures or bricks set over sterno to hold food
Out: Chafers and chafing dishes, big trays of casserole-like dishes
These step-by-step suggestions for restaurants and other foodservice operators looking to build or develop a drop-off catering program come from Jody Birnbaum, founder and president of Caterconsult, Inc., a Chicago-based consultancy providing catering and restaurant services for the foodservice industry.