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July's Featured Speaker: Sandy Korem, The Catering Coach

Sandy will be part of our Women's Entrepreneurs Circle and also presenting education sessions about catering operations on Sunday, August 23 at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and Tuesday, October 6 at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show.

The Big Money Maker
An introduction to full-service and off-premise catering

If you’re not catering, you’re leaving money on the table. Adding a full-service catering division to your restaurant is a great way to add revenues to your business.

Here are my tips for setting up a successful catering division in any restaurant.

Don’t panic… punt. You must have a non-kitchen event supervisor who can handle anything. You need a commanding supervisor who can deliver under any circumstance. My personal motto is “don’t panic… punt.” I once had a water main blow15 minutes before 350 guests were to arrive for a seated dinner reception in a tent. Trust me, we found water for 350 people in record time. 
Be prepared. I am not trying to scare you, but think of the worst circumstances for an off-premise catering event. You have to be prepared for anything. An off-premise caterer should be able to grill a steak with a lighter! You must have the ability to be resourceful and not let the issue panic the staff and most importantly, the client.

Create checklists and more checklists. You must have detailed checklists for all of your supplies and materials. Our company has total “sets” of event and kitchen supplies in large plastic tubs that are ready to go at a moment’s notice. They go with us to every event so that if the premise comes up short, we don’t.

Train versatile staff. I prefer to hire and train staff that can work in the kitchen and on the floor. Cross training is important.

Have the right staff. The character and background of the staff is critical. Background checks must be done on all staff going into someone’s home. Your clients trust that you have hired the right person to be in their home. 
Dress the staff well. A good-looking staff goes a long way to impress your guests. Dress them alike, all starched and pressed. Cummerbunds and bow ties are out. Long sleeves are preferred. You may not mind tattoos, but does your client? My company owns the wait staff shirts. They are cleaned and brought to each event. Each staff member is charged per event for the use of the shirt. Don’t let them buy their own and bring it to the event. If you do, you will be disappointed by what some people consider cleaned and ironed.

Pay your staff well. If you pay cheap, you don’t get loyalty. We pay $15 - $20 per hour per staff member. Captain is $24 per hour. We have some staff that has been with us for more than 14 years. We charge the client $30 - $33 per hour for each staff member with increased rates per hour during the holiday season.

If you are interested in a “What to Pack” checklist to see what we pack for off-site events, contact me at, and write “What to Pack” in the subject line. I’ll send you a copy.

More about Sandy Korem:

Sandy Korem is the CEO and founder of The Festive Kitchen, a one-of-a kind catering company based in Dallas Texas. No other catering company in America has established such a diverse and profitable “take-home catering” division. In 2008, Sandy was awarded the White House Food Service Medallion for outstanding service to President George W Bush. Her company, The Catering Coach, helps restaurateurs maximize their off-site catering potential and, if desired, establish a ”take-home catering “ revenue stream. Sandy uses her 20 years of experience to teach independent restaurant owners how to increase sales and profits with little or no investment and maximize earning potential by adding catering to their existing business. For more information about Sandy, visit


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