2006 Catering Study: Spreading the word

Half say catering revenue grew in 2006, led by colleges (70% of them) and B&I (66%).

Three years ago, catering customers at Marathon Oil often turned to outside caterers. Now, Carroll of Sodexo says, “probably about 98% order from us. We have at least two vans on the road delivering to other accounts—some are former Sodexho accounts where we’ve continued with catering.”

The foodservice team at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, Texas, is also capturing upwards of 90% of in-organization catering business. But that doesn’t stop the team from pursuing off-premise customers. “We did quite a bit of catering with the Salvation Army during the hurricanes of 2005,” says Daniel Coté, executive area chef for Morrison Management Specialists. “We fed evacuees [about 3,000 to 4,000 meals]; last summer, we did over 10,000 meals for the Salvation Army. We also do catering for a synagogue in town, using their kitchen.”


Day parts, drop off help boost catering profits
Plus: Catering menus help showcase the talents of your culinary staff.

Just as non-commercial foodservice is highly segmented by day part, so is catering. Luncheons and lunch meetings comprise 39% of the catering revenue, followed by breakfast (28%), dinners and banquets (26%) and special events such as festivals and, say, campus parties (7%).

Catering at Pennsbury (Pa.) School District, for example, ranges from morning and afternoon coffee breaks, breakfasts and luncheons to afternoon meetings and some dinners, according to Steve Kline, foodservice director for Metz & Associates, which manages foodservice for the district. Catering revenue totals about $40,000 a year.

Standing up: The budget for catering is somewhat limited, but Kline says he’s trying to stay current with trends in order to expand his offerings. “We have gotten away from sit-down meals,” he explains. “Customers want to do more stand-up [events] and grazing, which gives us an opportunity to do different things.” That includes putting more meal production elements out in front of customers: fresh items, carving stations and even chefs, Kline notes.

In addition, he’s “dabbling in heavier hors d’oeuvres” and has developed programs for pizza and birthday parties.
B&I caterers do the most breakfast business (35% of revenue) while hospitals get the most from lunchtime business (48% of their catering revenue).

Colleges, meanwhile, lead in the dinner category: 36% of catering revenue. To grow that business, Dean Wright, director of dining services at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, finds it necessary to increase customer education of what his department offers.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

Ideas and Innovation
fsd screenshot web

A full year has passed since we redesigned FoodService Director magazine, taking the publication from its longtime tabloid dimensions to a more convenient size and more creative design, and recasting the content to provide actionable, peer-to-peer insights and ideas for FSDs.

Now we are thrilled to announce that we’ve extended the makeover to our website as well. The new FoodServiceDirector.com has been redesigned to be more engaging and even easier to use. We’ve made it faster to find information, from recipes to HR best practices, that will help you run your facility better....

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most of us in the Bay Area are, if not...

FSD Resources