You have just started your offsite catering business and may have limited funds or be on a strict budget to allow for other food service expenses. You require many items in order to hold your first few events. There are basic supplies and equipment that you can slowly build up as your catering sales increase and your business becomes more successful. Renting what you need may be an option at first, but over time having your own supplies like commercial freezers and equipment will prove to be a much more practical and lucrative solution.
Ovens, Grills, Fryers, Coolers, Freezers, Walk-Ins, and Broilers
These are the high-dollar items that will be needed. Make a point to shop around and take bids from vendors. Visit the slightly used or dented showrooms for some real bargains that will help you get off the ground. Watch for restaurant closing sales where you can pick up used equipment at even lower prices.
These stainless steel tables are a must for your prep cooks. They will clean easily and provide sanitary surfaces for all of your preparing and plating needs. Begin with only a few and build up on a few more as soon as your business expands.
Pots and Pans
Quality pots and pans are a must. These are items you cannot skimp on. To be effective, they must hold up to days of wear and tear and clean easily. Start with a few basic sizes and add more pots and pans to your kitchen inventory as needed.
China, Silver, and Glassware
These items are extremely important because they are not hidden behind kitchen doors. These distinctive supplies are what your clients and guests will see and use at every event. It is important to purchase what matches the theme of the party. For example, a barbecue theme would use blue and white speckled tin plates; a wedding would require fine china. Flatware should also match the type of dishes used. Glassware should be very presentable and sturdy enough to hold up through usage, cleaning, and travel. One of the biggest mistakes new caterers are guilty of is buying glassware that breaks easily and shows every single water spot.
Buffets may be the easiest route to go when you first get started. Chafing dishes are essentials you cannot live without. Purchase basic, inexpensive styles at first and then build up to the more decorative and sturdier models in the future.
Dessert and cake stands, silver trays, and buffet decor may be items that will be added when more funds are available, but they can make a huge difference in your presentations. Start small and add more as your events begin to vary in theme.
Don’t forget the items staff members will need to properly care for guests at the events. Aprons, trays, tray stands, bus tubs, carts, and other service items will be used regularly, so attempt to stock up on these items as soon as possible.
Specialty linens can be rented for high-end events such as anniversaries, weddings, and corporate parties. Regular linens can be purchased and used for other functions such as meetings, children’s parties, and club gatherings. Purchase a few basic colors of tablecloths such as white, ivory, or black that will fit with any theme, and don’t forget complementing napkins. Begin with a few basic and standard sizes and build from there.