2007 Catering Study: And the survey says ...

The desire to operate foodservice in a more environmentally friendly manner isn’t necessarily a driving force in catering.

Better early than late: On average, 30% of catering revenue comes from breakfast and 42% comes from lunch, with only 22% of business being for dinners. Another 6% comes from special events.

Predictably, B&I operators do 90% of their catering during the day, while universities are much more likely to cater dinners. Those respondents said 31% of their average catering revenue comes from this daypart.

For those earlier dayparts, drop-off service is more often requested than any type of sit-down meal. Survey respondents said that 66% of their breakfast business is drop-off, as is 57% of luncheon business. By contrast, only 31% of dinner business is drop-off.  

Anecdotally, operators are seeing a move away from sit-down and waitservice functions, with more requests coming for buffet-style meals and drop-off services such as boxed lunches.

“Our largest growth has been in delivery service on campus,” says Brenda Ryan-Newton, director of catering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “With marketing and our catering Web page giving more easy access to our customer base, we have seen a substantial increase in this business.”

Citing the budget mindfulness of many university clients, she adds, “We tend to cater more buffets than sit-down dinners. It appears that our university sponsored sit-down meals are used mainly for large fundraising purposes.”

Other operators concur.

“We have seen more of an increase in simple delivery catering, box meals, etc.,” says Jim McAdam, owner of James Michael’s Catering on the campus of Eastman Chemical. “Our biggest decline is in sit-down meals.”

Echoing McAdam’s comments was Opal Spears, manager for HoneyBaked Ham, another Eastman caterer. “We’ve seen an increase in delivery, boxed lunches and buffets,” she says. “When people meet, they eat.”

Pick it up: Todd Foutty, director of foodservice for MetroHealth System in Cleveland, also notes a rise in the desire for buffets, as well as for pick-up, rather than delivery, service. “Pick-up is gaining because hospital departments are being forced to reduce their catering costs,” Foutty says. “Taking out the delivery/labor component reduces the cost to the department and the facility as a whole.”
He adds that catering volume at MetroHealth is rising in general because of cost concerns. “Internal catering is far less costly than when departments order from an outside vendor,” he explains.

Tony Almeida, director of nutrition services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J., agrees, adding that his prices encourage departments to upscale events.

“Our clients want to impress their guests with a high-end food presentation,” Almeida says. “We can do a high-end event for $30 a person, and still cost only half of what an outside caterer would charge.” Almeida also notes an increase in the demand for buffet service, but not necessarily for cost reasons.

“Our catering service has seen an increase in buffet dining because of the selections that can be offered, and the diversity of the guests,” he explains.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources