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Should I Choose a Buffet-Style Meal or a Seated Dinner?
Monday, March 13, 2017

Meals can be presented to your guests in two main 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.

Buffet 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.

Seated Dinner

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 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.

Other Factors

There are some ways to help reduce the negatives associated with each of the options. Let’s first discuss 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 few tables at a time to reduce the time standing in line.

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.

Ready to speak with a professional concerning your upcoming catering needs in the Cincinnati area? Consider setting up a consultation or tasting appointment with a Cincinnati Catering professional. This valuable session gives you one-on-one access to our knowledgeable staff who will answer any questions you have. Additionally, he or she can offer guidance in many other areas related to your planning.

Please call 513.541.2626.


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