Catering season is here!
And that means it’s time to stock up on everything your catering business needs. At Restaurant Equipment Solutions, we have all the catering equipment and supplies that are vital to your success!
In addition to selling outstanding equipment, we aim to be as knowledgeable and helpful as we can. That means we are always doing research and reaching out to leaders in the community so that we can better assist you. Recently, we reached out to Vassilli “Bill” Bouloukos of The Happy Catering Company regarding catering Best Practices. Bouloukos is owner and Happiness Consultant over at Happy Catering, and he gave us some wonderful insight and a deeper look into the world of catering.
The Happy Catering Company has been serving the Birmingham metro area for over 20 years. They cater all kinds of events, including weddings, business receptions, special events, and more. On WeddingWire.com, they have received a 4.9/5 rating for their excellent service and delicious food selection. They are well-connected in the Birmingham community and are able to offer referrals for other parts of the wedding or event with which you may need help.
You can read our conversation with Bouloukos below for insight into the nuanced business that is catering.
RES: What is the best way for people to find a caterer in their area?
Bill: The Happy Catering Company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Our growth in a city the size of Birmingham has surprisingly been from word of mouth. Of course with the wide popularity of social media we have increased sales due to Facebook, Instagram and wedding social media pages.
RES: How should a customer determine how much food to order?
Bill: We meet with our clients and discuss their needs. We go through a series of questions, a survey, to make sure we are listening and addressing all of their needs. Every catering [event] is different. From the information we gather we can formulate the amount of food the client should order to have a successful and memorable event.
RES: How long in advance should a customer order their food?
Bill: Due to the fact that we are a catering company and not a restaurant that just delivers what is on their menu, we book up fast. In other words since every event’s menu is specially designed for the client and not a black and white menu we try to meet as soon as possible and work towards earning their trust so we can hold the date. We have events that reserve us over a year out in order to assure them we will be handling their events.
RES: How long should a caterer have food prepared and ready before the event he or she is catering?
Bill: We prepare and are on the job site as many as three hours prior to the guests arriving. Many details have to be put in place to pull off a successful event.
RES: What is the best way to make arrangements for people with specific dietary needs?
Bill: Once again most of that is asked in the initial meeting. We ask if there any dietary or allergy specific concerns. We’ve prepared separate meals for guests with requests many times.
RES: For restaurants that are looking into starting a catering business, should they have totally separate menu items or should their restaurant and catering menus look similar?
Bill: Having started in the restaurant business, we realized from the start that our catering menu had to be completely different from our restaurant menu.
RES: What are some of the best ways for a catering company to promote/market their business?
Bill: Local civic groups, sponsoring meals for non-profit organizations, working closely with local schools, and chamber of commerce events.
RES: What are some best practices for customer service?
Bill: Respond, respond, respond! It’s not a secret that we are usually the first to answer and respond to client requests with a meeting or proposal. That is the number one reason many count on the Happy Catering Company for their events. If there is a situation or complaint handle it immediately.
RES: What are a few of the differences between business catering and event catering?
Bill: Most business catering events are built around a productive day and timing is everything. Corporate clients like dependability along with quality of our food. Event caterings have a wide variety of styling, timing and expectations. Many event clients have not had to entertain 100 to 500 guests. In preparing a menu you must find items that everyone will enjoy. That can be intimidating to most. The Happy Catering Company has become Birmingham’s go-to caterer due to the reason we can prepare a menu that will reassure the client that their event will be successful.
RES: In your opinion, what is the best piece of equipment to have on hand for a caterer or catering company?
Bill: In our line of work it’s the portable hot boxes by Cambro as well as the portable electric stand-up warming units. The chafing dishes and the transportation containers are very crucial for product holding and safe food handling for off-site events.
RES: What is the biggest difference between a traditional heat source and an induction heat source? Do you have a preference?
Bill:Very good question. In the past, of course, traditional heat source was our only option. However today we depend on Induction heat source for off-site catering jobs. The magnetic technology heats up the vessel very fast for our action stations. In the past we depended on Butane and it was hit-or-miss. Of course, we continue to use both because there is a place for both in the catering business.