2006 Catering Study: Spreading the word

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

Yearly reminder: “One of the biggest challenges we face is people will look at our Web site and think that is all we do,” he says. “So we do a Taste of Catering once a year—we invite customers and university decision-makers to a food fair that highlights new menu ideas and reintroduces us to our customer base.”

One of the goals of these efforts is to convince customers that Brigham Young University Dining “can create any type of meal to go with their event,” Wright continues. For example, a recent Scottish dinner staged by the English department honoring the poet Robert Burns featured smoked salmon chowder, beet greens salad, potato scones, herb-crusted lamb with root vegetables.”

Breakfast is mostly a drop-off business, the study shows. Sixty-two percent of breakfast revenue among all operators that cater breakfast comes from drop-off events, compared to 38% for full service. Logically, the opposite is true for dinner: three-quarters of revenue is full-service, one-quarter is drop-off. For lunch, the business splits nearly evenly at 45%/55%.

Catering menu expansion often helps operators broaden business in individual day parts, operators suggest. “New catering menu items include low-carb breakfast wraps, yogurt parfaits and make-your-own granola bar,” says Emil Grosso, president of Sebastians Café and Catering, which manages foodservice at a multi-tenant site (One Beacon Street) in Boston.

New family-style light entrees include grilled salmon salad and cumin-lime crusted chicken salad. “We have also brought a taste of our retail cafés to our catering menu with an expanded custom salad bar section and signature sandwich selections,” Grosso adds. New dessert themes include an ‘Espresso Pick Me Up’ featuring cappuccino and mini cheesecakes.

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