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NETWORKING, BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Caterer & Planning Your Meal by David W. Walker Owner Atlanta Bread Company Huntsville

Planning a meal for a long meeting or corporate event? It may sound easy. But, as anyone who has been tasked with running a smooth event knows, there’s more to catering than simply ordering the right entrees and desserts. Establish a long term relationship with one or more caterers. Many have a specialty food type – sandwich and salad, morning pastries, pizza, even BBQ. Find an expert in each type who you can trust to take care of details. 1. Flexible, Reliable & Locally Owned – Many events have last

minute changes. Some events pop up out of thin air (meaning the boss forgot to mention it to you). Make sure your caterer is flexible. Can you depend on them to add additional meals or change a menu item last minute for special dietary needs? Will they take last minute orders? A locally owned caterer has a vested interest in being on time, taking care of the small details, and going the extra mile to take care of last minute requests. 2. Who Is Attending Your Event? – Executives in town for a power meeting may expect a different menu than a younger crowd who may want more vegetarian options. A holiday event for employee families will need choices for children and adults. 3. How Much Food – How do you ensure the food doesn’t run out without having trays of leftovers? This largely depends on the type of food you are serving, how long the meeting will last, and whether your guests will have eaten elsewhere before the meeting. Providing a variety of food makes determining the right amount a bit trickier. Some guests will take a little of everything and others will opt for only a sandwich or salad. Your caterer should be able to give you a good guideline. For multi day events, review after the first day to adjust the food up or down. 4. Type of Meal – Think about the event setting. If attendees will be going into breakout sessions, a box meal they can take with them makes more sense. If there is a long lunch break, sandwich and salad trays with more variety may be more appealing. 5. Variety – Don’t make the mistake of ordering only what you like. An expert caterer will help you set a menu mix with more general appeal. A menu with variety allows you to provide smaller portions so that people can choose based on preference.

6. Healthy Options – For a health conscience group, offer healthy options like salad, soups, veggie trays, gluten free, fruit bowls instead of cookies, etc. Many people prefer organic and natural ingredients and fresh, locally sourced foods. 7. Staying on Budget – It’s easy to provide a wonderful meal if a budget isn’t an object. But for most events, you will have a specified amount to work with. An expert caterer will help ensure you are offering a good variety and still stick to the budget. 8. Allergies/Special Diets – Be aware of any special needs. A group of a dozen or more may include vegetarians. There are many nutritious vegetarian sandwich and soup options besides salads. Food allergies or religious dietary restrictions should be communicated specifically to your caterer so they can take extra precautions to accommodate all needs. 9. Turn Key – Ask your caterer if they provide everything needed for the event. Not all caterers do. There is nothing worse than having people ready for lunch and finding out no one thought to provide the ice, plates or cups. 10. Set Up & Clean Up – Will your caterer take care of setup so that you can focus on other things, or will you need to assign someone to cover it? How long should you allocate for setup? Provide plenty of table space for all of the food, beverages, snacks, plates, cups and utensils. Don’t forget to have a few trash cans for guests to dispose of their plates when finished. David W. Walker - Owner Atlanta Bread Company Huntsville Cheryl and David Walker have operated Huntsville’s Atlanta Bread Bakery Café since 2002. They have catered for small and large business events for over a decade.

World Flavors Catered to Your Table Our delicious, healthy, and internationally inspired dishes are sure to satisfy all your catering needs.

DISCOVER MORE AT YOUR LOCAL ATLANTA BREAD. AtlantaBreadHuntsville.com (256) 922-2253 | Catering@AtlantaBreadHuntsville.com valleybusinesssource.com • 13

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