Why Call a Caterer When I’m Surrounded by Restaurants? Restaurants vs. Caterers
Okay—we’re a little biased. But, with our 30 years of experience in the business, who could blame us? That’s right, we’ve been providing full-service catering for events all over Chicago since 1989, and our vetted service excellence reveals our age.
We’ve got events big and small down pat, within an ever-shifting, quickly-changing industry. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by us that the catering industry has expanded to include many independent local eateries, as well as big Chicago restaurant groups. So what’s the right choice for you? Restaurant vs. traditional catering service: we diverge from our brick and mortar companions in three distinct areas: menus, delivery and event service.
What Is a Boutique Catering Service?
Boutique businesses are small, highly personalized and often stray from the conventions of their big name companions. In the catering industry, this means a hands-on client approach, customized menus and and an individualistic outlook on events big and small. Being “boutique” by no means implies that we can’t cater the biggest, baddest corporate galas, holiday parties, launches, fashion shows, store openings and more! Our sales and office operations teams are small, but our service staff is mighty—we’ve covered staffed events with guest counts over 2,000 with the same personal touch we would give a backyard birthday party.
Lots of local Chicago eateries have expanded their business to include catering—but what exactly are they offering? Because of the nature of the business, restaurants have standard menus off of which they must work. Many will have a separate “catering” menu, with modified options from the dine-in version, plus some extras. If you love the restaurant’s options, that’s great! But what about your guests? Will they have enough variety? Will there be dishes suitable for those with dietary restrictions?
Caterers build their businesses around their ability to be flexible—offsite venues, unaffiliated vendors, last-minute timing changes, etc. Our menus are more than flexible – they’re inspirational templates. Our sales staff, through a one-on-one conversation with the client, will assemble a menu tailored to you and your event. We specialize in lively, flavorful dishes for all—endless vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher-style, egg-free menu swaps with no fees or fuss. Plus, if you have a favorite restaurant dish or heirloom family recipe, tell us! We love incorporating and reinterpreting food that feels personal to you.
While many restaurants do deliver these days, it’s important to understand exactly the terms of the delivery. As with any sort of delivery service, there’s likely a fee attached—what does that fee cover? Food delivery for events is so much more than a truck and a loading dock. Once the food arrives, is the restaurant tasked with setup or does that fall to the venue? Or to you? Also, inquire about serveware and vessels—if you’re planning for a buffet using the equipment provided by the restaurant, you’ll want to ensure If food is prepared before reaching the site of the event, how is it kept warm (or cold)? Will there be a chef onsite to ensure quality?
For caterers, successful delivery is the name of the game. That is what we do so we’re giving you our A game. Delivery is inherently integrated as a part of our entire process, from the packing to the unpacking, the packaging to the setup, and everything in between. First, we offer you our serveware options. For drop-off catering, we offer clear and black plates and bowls for a slightly elevated look, as well as compostable dinnerware for the option to be as eco-friendly as possible. All catering deliveries include complimentary concierge setup, meaning our crew members bring it into the space and set it all up correctly. For staffed events, we prep some food in our kitchen, but our onsite chefs prepare as much as we can onsite for ultimate freshness.
*crickets* Kidding! Restaurants are excellently-staffed at their brick and mortar locations—they know their business depends happy customers, who depend on attentive waitstaff. But what about off-premise? If your favorite spot in the city is part of a bigger restaurant group, it probably has a division of servers, bartenders and chefs dedicated to off-premise catering. But if you’re ordering from a “boutique” restaurant, you (or the venue) may be stuck hiring your own event staff. ?
In an ideal world, our food would speak for itself. But, as of 2019, our food can’t talk. So we have our well-vetted, first-class waitstaff to speak for it. Many of our onsite front-of-house directors have worked with us since the early days of our business (we’re talking decades-long relationships here!). We trust our events staff because it’s composed of people we know personally, who understand our food, style, presentation and clientele. All staffing charges for our events are included in our initial proposals, so there’s no surprise surcharge to get the food from the kitchen to the guests in a timely, professional manner.