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    6 Replies Latest reply on May 10, 2009 3:03 PM by Nancy08

    An idea for a small catering business, comments?

    BrassJmes Adventurer
      I came up with this idea after eating yet another tasteless meal in the company I work for
      A lot of big firms use big catering services to feed their employees during lunch, but what about the medium/small companies?
      How about starting a small catering service... just making home-made foods and maybe pastries, BUT! make it a small shop in an industrial area and offer small and medium businesses to feed their employees for lunch

      Does anyone have any thoughts on this matter?
      The costs involved?
      The market?

      I havn't done any research on the subject, as this is really far from the type of business I'm looking to start... but would like to see people's comments
      Would help me see where my head's at, and if I'm looking at things the right way

      Thanks in advance

        • Re: An idea for a small catering business, comments?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          An idea for a small catering business

          If I came up with an idea of starting a small catering business, I would visit SCORE.

          SCORE is FREE and can help you.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          • Re: An idea for a small catering business, comments?
            Iwrite Pioneer
            I think the idea is a good one. The real challenge is finding a good cook and developing a great menu. Food services is a hard field but when done right it can be a great business to run.

            Everything is going to revolve around the food. Great food will sell itself. I had a client with a bread basket business, and to generate customers she would drop off a small sample basket with a card to the offices in her area. Her business took off, she even ended up supplying breads for one of the best brunches in Milwaukee. It was amazing to watch that business take off. She even took a sample basket to the bank when she went to inquire about a loan. The bank became one her weekly customers and she got the loan.

            I think folks are looking for good affordable food. If you can deliver that on a consistent basis, I say go for it. But do not be fooled, this is hard work.
            • Re: An idea for a small catering business, comments?
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              In most locales, food that is prepared for sale to the public must be prepared in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen - the average home kitchen can't qualify without major renovations. So in many cases, the opportunity you identified is definitely there, but you can't make the numbers work since many of the start-up and overhead costs are nearly as much for a small operation as a large one (yet revenues will be much less).

              Individuals who are doing this successfully commonly take one of three approaches: (1) a regular catering operation, which generates revenue from sources besides the target market you mentioned (i.e. weddings, parties, etc.); (2) a mobile kitchen (i.e., preparing the food in and selling the food from a "lunch wagon" -- it's generally cheaper/easier to get one of those and obtain the necessary permits than to buy/lease a commercial kitchen); (3) offer breakfast and morning "break" food/service rather than lunch (breakfast type foods generally have a higher profit margin, and you can avoid some of the storage and handling issues that can add overhead costs to preparing/serving lunch).

              Hope that helps. Good luck.
              • Re: An idea for a small catering business, comments?
                ZARANTE Newbie
                I may know someone that works in tha tindustry and put you in contact with him, he may be able to tell you some of the things you may need to do... let me know. my email is and my name is Alvaro Zarante / Miami Shores
                • Re: An idea for a small catering business, comments?
                  Nancy08 Wayfarer
                  What you are talking about is actually what Paula Deen started with "The Bag Lady and Sons." You might want to check out the following

                  This is the link to Cooking with Denay's Online Learning Center and it was a catering class for novice cooks/caterers. My neighbor took the course and loved it. I am not a cook so I don't know but you might want to contact the educational director and learn more.