What is the difference between drop-off catering and an attended buffet?
Drop Off Service
When drop-off service is contracted, Cincinnati Catering will arrive at the event location approximately one-half hour prior to the designated eating time (unless otherwise arranged). The delivery person will cover the provided buffet table with a disposable paper table cover and arrange your food items on the table. All of these foods will come to the client in disposable throwaway aluminum pans. Disposable serving utensils are included as well. However, there is now way to keep heating the food once our delivery person has left (unless you have your own oven). Cincinnati Catering does not leave equipment behind. The client does have the option to purchase disposable chafing dishes from Cincinnati Catering (with advance notice) or purchase them at a local party store.
A drop-off service fee and delivery fee usually apply in this instance.
When attended service is contracted, Cincinnati Catering will arrive at the event location approximately one hour prior to the designated eating time (unless otherwise arranged). The buffet attendant will cover the provided buffet tables (usually 2-8') with white linen tablecloths and black overlays. White linen skirting will also be provided on the buffet tables at the Silver, Gold, and Platinum wedding levels of service when there are at least 150 guests. Additionally, all hot foods will be presented in silver chafing dishes with heat under them. The buffet line will be set up self-serve and guests may serve themselves from either side of the buffet tables assuming space permits. The attendant will replenish the buffet line and break it down following the event.
The buffet attendant / grillperson / carver will be present at the event long enough to feed the guests at one time. If additional serving time is desired beyond Cincinnati Catering's standard serving window, additional personnel charges may apply. Cincinnati Catering reserves the right to determine the appropriate serving duration based upon the guaranteed number of guests.
What do I do to reserve your services?
Cincinnati Catering requires a $200.00 deposit to reserve a date for a particular event as well as a signed order. The $200.00 deposit is non-refundable and will not be returned to the client upon cancelling an event. As long as the event proceeds, the deposit will be deducted from the final balance.
When is the final payment and final guest count due? And how late can you accept last minute changes?
For personal parties, the final guest count is due two weeks prior to the event date along with final payment. Final payment may be made with cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.
For corporate parties, the final guest count is due one week prior to the event date. Final payment may be made with cash, check, purchase order, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Invoicing options may be available with advance approval from Cincinnati Catering.
Cincinnati Catering will make every effort to accommodate guest count increases after the above mentioned deadlines if possible. Clients may not reduce the guest count after the deadlines noted above. If the client fails to call in the appropriate guest count and is unable to be reached by Cincinnati Catering for some reason, it will be assumed that the client is accepting the highest guest count of the range on the original quote provided and will be billed accordingly.
Do you provide delivery services?
Cincinnati catering does provide delivery service for a nominal fee based upon the delivery location. Delivery service is an option with a minimum of $200.00 food and/or beverage order. Clients are always welcome to pick up their order at Cincinnati Catering's office to avoid the delivery charge.
May I keep the leftover food?
It is Cincinnati Catering's policy to offer the clients the option to keep the leftover food from the Buffet Line if desired. It is the client's responsibility to provide the appropriate pans for the leftovers if he or she chooses to keep them. With advance notice, Cincinnati Catering can provide the leftover pans for a flat fee of $10.00. Cincinnati Catering does donate leftover food to a local soup kitchen where health regulations permit. The client must advise Cincinnati Catering of his or her intent to keep the leftovers no later than the time when the guaranteed guest count is given.
How many buffet lines are usually set up?
Cincinnati Catering generally follows these guidelines when determining the number of full buffet line setups:
a. 199 guests or less - 1 full buffet line setup (access from both sides of the tables)
b. 200 guests to 399 guests - 2 full buffet line setups (access from both sides of the tables)
c. 400 guests and above - 3 full buffet line setups (access from both sides of the tables)
If the client desires more buffet line setups than what the guest count warrants, a $125.00 charge may be incurred for each additional setup.
A buffet line is general open for one (1) hour unless other advance arrangements have been made.
Do you provide tables?
Cincinnati Catering does not provide tables either for the buffet or guests. It is the responsibility of the client or the client's venue to supply an adequate number of tables. If this is a problem, please discuss rental options with your catering consultant.
Will you cut my wedding cake?
With certain wedding packages, Cincinnati Catering includes wedding cake cutting services. These services may also be purchased a la carte if needed.
Cincinnati Catering does include black foam cake plates, white plastic forks, and white paper cocktail napkins with the Gold and Platinum level wedding services. Additional upgrade options are available as well.
Cincinnati Catering will not be held liable for any missing cake parts or pieces that need to be returned to the baker.
Should I choose a buffet-style meal or a seated dinner?
Meals can be presented to your guests in two major methods... buffet style or seated dinner. In order to choose what is most appropriate for you, we are presenting pros and cons for each style.
A buffet style meal is generally less expensive than a seated dinner. This is due to the amount of service staff that is needed to prep and serve the meals on-site. Buffet style service is generally considered a more relaxed option. Additionally, it allows for more variety in the food selections and increases the likelihood that everyone will find something they enjoy on the buffet. Buffet style critics will say the downside is the wait time for guests.
While seated dinner service tends to be a bit pricier, it is generally the more elegant option and may offer guests a bit more relaxation. Ideally, all of the guests are served at the same time.
Seated dinners can be a bit challenging in the planning and executing stages. You'll have to decide if you are offering everyone the same meal or allowing an RSVP for a specific meal/entree. If you are allowing the RSVP, you'll need to collect and organize all of the RSVPs as well as coordinate an assigned seating chart. Last, you may find more food waste with this option because your picky eaters won't be cleaning their plates.
Marriage of the Two?
So, what if there are aspects that you like from both of these styles? How about blending the two to take advantage of the perks on both sides. The solution could be a buffet style meal on china. This option gives you some of the benefits of a buffet such as food variety and cost savings while the china dinner plates, flatware, and linen napkins give you the elegance of the seated dinner. You can even choose to add touches that are reminiscent of a seated dinner such as a pre-set salad or pre-set water goblet.
There are some ways to help reduce the negatives associated with each of the options. First, the buffet. When space permits, it is advisable to use both sides of each buffet line to allow faster access for your guests. Additionally, you can request a Captain's Call service either from your caterer or DJ to invite guests to the buffet in an orderly fashion a couple of tables at a time.
For the seated dinner, be sure to find out how many wait staff will be present at your reception. Generally, a good rule of thumb is 1 server per 2 or 3 standard guest tables. By ensuring this ratio, your guests are more likely to be served at the same time, so you don't have some guests finished eating before others are served. And, for the seated dinner option, be sure your venue has enough "behind-the-scenes" prep space.