Catering Preparation 101: The Art of Event Space Layout

Every big event you cater takes meticulous planning to run smoothly and successfully. A crucial part of your catering preparation should be visually laying out the event space, so you, your staff, and your clients...

Every big event you cater takes meticulous planning to run smoothly and successfully. A crucial part of your catering preparation should be visually laying out the event space, so you, your staff, and your clients know exactly where everything will be. After all, every detail has its time and place.

Catering Preparation Photo by Star Event on Unsplash

Your catering preparation depends on the layout and type of event.

1. Banquets

From weddings to award ceremonies and charity events, the banquet layout is a popular seating style for event planners and attendees. It usually consists of multiple individual tables with a group of people at each. For caterers, this type of sit-down meal usually means having servers. While buffets can be an option, banquet style seating with sit-down service is usually more efficient.

Banquets Photo by Star Event on Unsplash

2. Conferences

Conferences come in all sizes, and the seating is generally arranged to have the middle and front of the room as focal points. Classic seating styles like double rectangle layouts and classroom setups might not always work anymore due to attendees' demand for more experiential meetings. Mapping out the seating arrangement beforehand becomes crucial to accommodate these changing preferences.

3. Outdoor Events

Outdoor events present a unique opportunity for caterers. These high-volume events often take place in venues like parks, beaches, or amusement parks and usually don't have set seating. The headcount can vary, so it's important to consider factors like shade, proximity to main attractions, and positioning yourself strategically to attract attention.

Outdoor Event Photo by Star Event on Unsplash

4. Nontraditional Events

Nontraditional venues and events are becoming more common. Think aquariums, warehouses, and parking lots. These unconventional spaces often come with unique seating arrangements and layout challenges. Make sure to include all these challenges in your event diagram and share them with your staff as part of your catering preparation.

The 5 Items That Should Be On Every Catering Checklist

1. Detailed and Signed Contract

A detailed, signed contract should be one of the first items on your catering checklist. It should include the menu, expected tasks, event floor plan, and breakdown of the day's events. No detail is too small when it comes to event planning.

2. Special Needs and Dietary Restrictions

Consider special needs and dietary restrictions of your attendees. Providing options for everyone, whether it's vegetarian, gluten-free, or other preferences, shows thoughtfulness and care. Additionally, consider needs like accessibility for attendees with disabilities or a mother's room.

Catering Ideas Photo by Star Event on Unsplash

3. Vendor Contact Sheet

Keep a list of all vendors involved in the event, including their arrival times and day-of contact person with a phone number. This will help you stay organized and address any issues that may arise without alarming your client.

4. Venue Walk Through

Schedule a walk-through of the venue with your client to confirm the flow of the event. Create an event diagram to eliminate any confusion. Visualizing the setup ensures that you have enough space and allows your clients to picture their event before it happens.

5. Post-Event Expectations

Don't forget about what happens after the event. Determine responsibilities for tasks like taking centerpieces home or cleaning up the venue. Taking care of these minor details will leave a lasting positive impression on your clients.

Remember, as a caterer, planning for the room layout should always be part of your preparation process. By mapping out the specific nuances in advance, you'll be ready to take on any event and ensure its success.

Still have some questions about catering preparation?

If you still have questions or need further assistance with your catering preparations, feel free to reach out to us. We're here to help streamline your catering prep and make a big impact on your bottom line.

Looking to streamline your catering prep? Check out how our event catering software and event layout software can speed things up and have a big impact on your bottom line.