Are you venturing into the restaurant catering business for the first time? If so, you should make a list of the essential supplies and equipment you will need. You probably know about the obvious, such as serving supplies and containers, but there is so much more to consider. A few of the fundamental supplies you will most likely utilize include beverage stations, food warmers and folding furniture. Consider the following for your business:
1. Beverage Dispensers or Stations
This is a definite essential for any catering business or restaurant. Choose from insulated or non-insulated beverage dispensers, electric models, airpots and more.
Beverage Dispensers: Obviously, an insulated beverage dispenser will keep beverages colder for a longer period of time than a non-insulated model. The 3 and 5 gallon models are generally most popular. A stainless steel dispenser offers the best durability, as plastic dispensers may need to eventually be replaced. Unlike stainless steel, some plastic dispensers may retain odors. Just about all beverage dispensers should include a drip-free spigot.
Electric Beverage Dispensers: If you want to keep your drinks cold for a long period of time, the electric dispenser is a good option. Also, this type of dispenser is used for pre-mixing beverages. Look for a model with a high efficiency pump and an agitate circulation feature that helps mix the drink for even distribution. It should also feature easy-to-read measuring marks on the bowl.
Stainless Steel Airpot: For restaurant and catering use, it's best to choose a high capacity airpot that will keep coffee hot for several hours. A removable lid will allow for easy cleaning. Cleaning with vinegar and water is a good method. Also, look for a glass liner and vacuum insulation, as this will help keep beverages hot.
2. Chafing Dish or Chafer
This is used for keeping your buffet style foods warm and ready to serve. Chafers come in various styles and sizes, including round, rectangular, oval and even griddle style. You can choose a fuel-powered model that works with chafing fuel or an electric-powered chafing dish. If your catering event is outdoors, the fuel-powered model might not be the best choice, especially on a windy or rainy day. Electric chafers are also safer around small children and pets, as there are no flames to deal with.
Some chafers feature lift off covers, while others are retractable or made with a roll-top. The roll top or retractable chafing dishes are convenient for self-serve buffets, as the lid does not have to be removed. You might also prefer a hinged lid which will open without the need for removal. A glass lid will allow you to view the contents without having to open the chafing dish.
3. Folding Furniture
Restaurant catering supplies you will need includes folding furniture. Banquet and buffet tables are a must. You'll find styles including round, oval and rectangular, as well as materials such as metal or plastic resin. A two-tier table is convenient, as it allows you to separate food items, and an underneath rack will hold paper plates and supplies.
4. Mobile Catering Equipment
Look for specialty mobile equipment such as stainless steel condiment carts and portable bars. A condiment cart will include a motorized pump for dispensing mustard, ketchup and sauces. Look for a model that also includes bins for storing condiment pouches and sauces. Wheeled swivel casters with a locking system or brakes is an important feature.
The portable bar will store wine bottles and liquor and also have wheeled casters for mobility. Look for pull-out shelves or drawers, as well as a removable bottle caddy. Many portable bars also include some type of recessed ice bucket.
When purchasing restaurant catering equipment and supplies, you might want to inquire about previously owned products. Buying gently-used equipment may save you money. For more information, contact a business such as Louis Wohl & Sons Inc.