I recently spoke at a restaurant trade show in Florida, and while I was there, I chatted with a catering sales person for a high-end restaurant where catering sales are growing at a healthy pace. I went online to review their catering pics and could not believe what I saw. Their catering sales may be off the charts, but their station presentation is extremely out of date. I couldn’t help but imagine what their sales could be if they updated their style of catering.
Even if you have a nostalgia-themed restaurant or play “oldies” as your background music, you must stay current and cutting-edge in your catering decor to keep your catering customers coming back again and again.
What I want to address today is the practice of “scrunching,” along with risers, staff uniforms, platters, condiment bowls and chalk.
“Scrunching” is the 1990s look of scrunching the extra fabric from an oversized tablecloth on the buffet table then putting food platters on top of it. First things first: destroy all pics of your buffets that show scrunching. Think simple, clean lines, modern. And, if you are using that Velcro stick-on skirting—stop and burn it!
Yes, elevation is key for a food station or buffet, but boxes on a table covered with a tablecloth are dated. There are plenty of modern or copper risers with clean lines. You can find them easily through restaurant supply stores, even Amazon.com. Or, if you want a more rustic look, use wooden crates branded with your logo.
Do you still dress your staff in a black cummerbund, white shirt and black bow tie? Go for something more current, such as simple black shirts with clean white aprons.
Are you passing hors d’oeuvres at parties? Forget the silver trays. Don’t even think about cheap black plastic. Use clean-lined, modern, narrow white melamine or china. If you want something more rustic, try a small bread board.
What about platters for the buffet or a station? I have found some great white melamine and china platters at regular restaurant supply stores. If you want a disposable option, use bamboo platters and bowls. Also check out the tree trunk platters that are everywhere you look right now.
Now onto condiment “bowls” at your food stations and buffet tables. There are so many current hip alternatives to bowls. Small cast iron skillets, tiny six-inch strainers, individual fry baskets for crackers, square jars for dressings and sauces, mini mason jars (yep, these are still in style).
And lastly, let’s talk chalk. It is a craze—from chalkboards big and small to signs on easels. There’s even chalk tape. All of it is easy, inexpensive and fun. Use small labels for your condiments and big signs to name your food stations or to display a menu.
Your customers can still enjoy that fabulous pork belly you are famous for, but the pork doesn’t have to “present” itself in a dated fashion. Stay catering-current and I guarantee you will book more events and your customers will pay more to book you. Why? Because they are paying you to elevate their event in taste and style. And because they hire you to make them look good.