Though industrial grills are his go-to for high-volume events, Lyman Graham likes the versatility of home grills for smaller catering gigs with fewer than 150 people, such as welcome-back barbecues or school field trips.
Graham, foodservice director for Carlsbad Municipal Schools, Dexter Consolidated Schools and Roswell Independent School District, all in New Mexico, says he prefers the portability of residential models in these instances. “Home grills have wheels so you can just come in and roll them,” he says. “If the wind starts blowing, you can [easily] turn the grill around the other way so it doesn’t blow in your face.”
Graham also finds his staff is more comfortable handling smaller grills, because they’re used to using them at home. Still, he hosts training sessions to ensure everyone knows how to operate them safely.
The smaller propane grills can be cost-effective, $200 to $400 at a local hardware store. And when an event winds down, Graham finds the cleanup to be more streamlined. That’s because he often uses charcoal for his commercial grill and must wait for embers to die out before he can return it to a storage warehouse.