How To Start A Catering Business – Resources Included

June 23, 2018 848 views

How to Start a Catering Business: Are You Aware of These Issues?

Catering Business Overview:

Your day as a caterer may start very early, with you preparing meals, organizing and loading equipment, and food into vans to drive to party locations. Parties may be weddings, graduations, events, engagements, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, retirement parties, etc.

After setting up, you must serve the food according to schedule and finally, everything must be cleaned up and packed up before you leave the party.

Skill Set:

  • A background in culinary arts.
  • Party-planning skills.
  • The knowledge of proper dining etiquette.
  • An eye for decorating.
  • Time management skills.
  • People skills.
  • Common Business Skills.

Employee Considerations:

Hours of Operation:

Open for inquiries from 9 am to 5 pm. Actual events, may anytime, but usually in the afternoon and evening.

Equipment and Supplies

  • Kitchen equipment and utensils
  • Serving utensils, dishes, and silverware
  • Mixers, juicers, food blenders
  • Skillets, pots, pans
  • Tables and linens
  • Condiment trays with salt, pepper, cream, sugar, etc.
  • Means of transportation
  • Refrigeration unit(s)
  • Specialty equipment such as panini grills and chocolate fountains
  • Van or box truck
  • A large assortment of food warmers
  • Office Equipment

Monthly Expenses To Consider:

In addition to our list of common business expenses, your catering service will require a budget for the ongoing cost of acquiring the food you will be serving, disposable supplies such as (Sterno cans, possibly plastic ware such as glasses dishes, for casual events, and cleaning supplies.


You will need a food handler’s permit for both you and your employees. If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages, you will also need a liquor license.

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Startup Cost:

Entrepreneur Magazine estimates that startup costs can range from $10,000 USD to $50,000 USD.

Tips & Considerations:

  • Regular checks will be conducted by health officials.
  • Food temperature must be monitored at all times.
  • You must conform to all applicable food service laws.
  • Consider the type of catering you want. Some specialize in weddings. Others may only cook vegan meals. Some run a restaurant in conjunction with catering. There are even franchises such as Café Ala Carte®.
  • It may take a full day, week, or even month, to prepare for a full-course event. Other events may only require finger foods that only take a few hours to prepare and set up.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • There is an opportunity for high revenue.
  • Freedom of being your own boss.
  • A wide variety of creativity in menu planning.

The Cons:

  • You may encounter considerable competition.
  • Working long hours, including holidays.
  • Dealing with people at stressful special events, like weddings.
  • Staying current with all food service rules and regulations.

Type of Customers You Need to Attract:

The types of customers vary greatly. Caterers serve weddings, fundraisers, parties, religious ceremonies like christenings and bar mitzvahs, and many other events. Smaller caterers may serve breakfast or lunches at offices.


According to Inc.com, the catering industry is a $7 billion USD business annually.
A survey done by the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) reports that in 2010, 44% of their members noticed an increase in business party clients.

For more statistical information, please refer to Valuation Resources and First Research.


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A Day in the Life of a Caterer

Life of Brian: A Day in the Life of a Caterer

A Day in the Life of a Caterer

One Day in the Life of a Caterer

A Day in the Life of a Caterer

Business Plan:

Catering Business Plan Template – 9+ Free Word, Excel, PDF Format Download

Catering Business Articles & Tips:

6 Steps to Starting Your Very Own Catering Company

Starting a Catering Business

How to Start a Catering Business

How to Start a Self-Catering Business

How to Start a Catering Business

How to Start a Catering Business

Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business

Expert Catering Tips – Knowing How Much Food is Enough!

10 Things To Be A Better Caterer

10 Steps to Catering Success

Industry Niche


Niches are caterers’ low-hanging fruit

Niche Catering Ideas

Catering Books:

Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation

The Everything Guide to Starting and Running a Catering Business

Off-Premise Catering Management

How to Start a Home-based Catering Business (Home-Based Business Series)

Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation

How to Start a Catering Business

How to Start a Home-Based Catering Business, 5th

Catering Training / Courses:

What Training is Necessary for a Career in Catering?

Education for Catering

Caterer Training

Catering Training Courses

The 20 Best Culinary Schools

Best Culinary Schools in America

Best Cooking Schools Around the World

Catering Forums:

Professional Catering

Catering, Vending, and Cooking For The Masses

Discussion Forum

Catering Software:

Best Catering Software 2016 Reviews

The world’s best catering software

Catering Management CRM

Top 11 Best Catering Software

Best Catering Software

Catering Supplies & Equipment:

Catering Supplies

Catering Supplies specializes in wedding reception catering supplies

Catering Equipment

Catering Supplies Cheap

Catering Equipment and Supplies


National Association for Catering and Events

The International Caterers Association

The Association of Club Catering Professionals

Hospital Caterers Association

Established Businesses & Websites:

Top 5 Caterers: San Francisco


Tri-State’s Premier Wedding & Event Caterer

CulinArt Catering Site

Cleaver Co.

Tasty Catering

Jay’s Catering

Catering By Seasons

R&R Catering!

Pure Joy Catering

Rebecca Jean Catering

Catering by Uptown

Whoa Nelly Catering

Rocky Top Catering

Catering Franchise Opportunities:

Catering Franchise Opportunities

Food Catering Franchise Opportunities

Catering Franchise Opportunities, Catering Franchises for Sale

Catering Franchise Opportunities

Catering Businesses For Sale:

Catering Services Businesses for Sale

Catering Businesses For Sale in US

Catering Businesses For Sale

Catering Business For Sale USA

Catering News And Industry Sites:


Hospitality & Catering News

Catering Trade Publication

News, trends, and analysis for the catering equipment industry

Hospitality Net Industry News

Hospitality News

Catering Trends:

Trends & Style | Catersource

2016 catering trends restaurant operators should know

12 top wedding food trends

Catering Trends You’ll Discover in 2016

8 Hot New Wedding Food Trends For 2016

Catering Trends to Try at Your Restaurant


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