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Avoid the Hidden Costs of Outside Catering: 9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Caterer for Your Ne

You have an event coming up soon and there's absolutely no reason to push the panic button. Whether it's a milestone birthday, a family reunion with guests from all over the globe or an over-the-top wedding extravaganza, choosing the right caterer—quite simply—makes or breaks your special event.

The good news: You don’t have to break the bank. Look for a venue that’s all-inclusive to avoid being charged—additionally—for the special touches you expect. You want your event to be all about socializing and bonding over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a buffet or sit-down dinner, and, you want it to be hassle-free. Perhaps you're looking to create something on a grand scale, or maybe your event lends itself to a smaller and more intimate gathering. In either case, consider these 10 things to make sure you get the most bang from your event buck.

  1. Your needs and the size of event. Making sure there is enough food to feed your attendees is crucial. Select a caterer that is flexible, whether it's going to be just nibbles and cocktails or a full-blown sit-down dinner.

  2. [endif]Location. Make your event convenient for everyone; free parking is a great bonus.

  3. Cost. Wouldn’t it be great if the sky were the limit? In most cases, a budget needs to be maintained. Look for a caterer with flexible options. Ideally, you’d select a venue with a solid list of all-inclusive options. Make sure you know what’s included, and be wary of and smart with add-on costs. Weigh your choices with your expectations.

  4. Flexibility. Accommodating food allergies and dietary restrictions is almost always part of a menu planning today. Find a chef who is both flexible and creative in providing a selection that satisfies everyone.

  5. Preparation. Having food prepared off-site? Many caterers are experts at this, but there tend to be limitations. Are setups and flatware included? Linens required? Look at all options and make sure you grasp the concept before deciding.

  1. Staff available. Typical guidelines for serving staff include: [if !supportLists] ● [endif]Buffet: Assume two servers for every 30 guests. For larger groups, you should also figure two or three additional runners to clear dishes and restock chafing stations.[if !supportLists] ● [endif]Sit-down dinner: Assume one server for every two tables, with additional servers to handle drink service.[if !supportLists] ● [endif]Bar staff: Figure on at least one bartender, and one barback, for every 50 guests. Additional bartenders may be needed if you plan to feature specialty drink stations.

  2. Tastings and tours. Does your caterer have sample menus to taste? Does the caterer mount local events that you can visit to see how things flow? Will the caterer allow tours of the event facility? These are all valid reasons when deciding who will handle your special needs.

  1. [endif]Details. Before signing a contract, take your time to review clauses, timing and expectations. Considerations about menu and cocktail aesthetics to details about any food remaining after the event should be discussed, as well.

  2. Customer reviews. Word-of-mouth reviews are easy to find via social media, but make sure you talk to trusted friends and colleagues as well. Try to learn if the caterer can handle unexpected situations such as weather, faulty equipment or surprise guests?

Brandi Eaton, sales operations manager at Normandy Farm, has booked close to 1,000 weddings since beginning her tenure four years ago. She is also instrumental in partnering with the team of chefs to come up with personalized menus. “Our venue is not only stunning to look at, but it's family-owned—and the pride, integrity and reinvesting to keep us current with today's market is off the charts,” she said. “That pride becomes evident in the professional team that we have here as well. Our goal is to please the client, and we do it exceptionally well.”

As one of the Philadelphia's top all-inclusive venues, we not only streamline the process with our experts but we exceed expectations by saving costs (and headaches) typically associated with catering.

Need more information? Call us at (215) 616-8500.

Located just 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and situated in the heart of Blue Bell, Pa., Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center is more than a meticulously restored American landmark—it's a fully wired, high-tech hospitality venue. Relax on our grand terrace, sip a cocktail in America's oldest silo, play a challenging game of golf on our championship course, plan an event with us or dine on our delectable farm-to-table cuisine. It all adds up to One Historic Experience.

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