Pivot, Plan & Remain Poised – Part 3: Food & Beverage

This post is part of the series, “Pivot, Plan & Remain Poised,” where The Event Group team explores how to manage events amid, and post-COVID-19.

The Event Group is back with its third post in the “Pivot, Plan & Remain Poised” series to discuss one of the most important aspects of any event, food, and beverage. For this post, we asked caterers we’ve worked with from around the country to tell us how they are adjusting.

Pivot

When the pandemic hit, our catering friends had to find new and innovative ways to keep serving their clientele.

Common Plea Catering (CPC) – Pittsburgh, PA:

· “Handcrafted” – Common Plea Catering’s new division, “Handcrafted”, is a site where you can order individual, pre-made meals that can be delivered to your home, office or picked up from CPC’s commissary in the Strip. They have made their delivery and pick up process as contactless as possible, in order to keep staff and clients safe.

· When restrictions on gatherings began to lift in Pennsylvania, Common Plea added items to CPC Handcrafted that would feed smaller groups of 8-25 guests. Items added include hot entrees and sides, Common Plea’s signature “Grazing Boxes,” and a few adult beverage packages. Handcrafted delivers not only to private residences but to local businesses who have smaller groups of employees working and want to provide lunch or dinner while they are at work.

Cru Catering – Charleston, SC:

· Cru Kits: Cru’s chefs designed four-course menus that come in a box that clients can pick up at multiple locations. The boxes come with pre-cooked items ready to be reheated. Cru did this as a way for clients to have a fast, easy, food option as well as to give them variety in their dining options. Think you’ll have trouble? The chefs have also developed convenient instructions to make it even easier, and hassle-free, when putting together everything at home.

· Virtual gala kit program – Cru recently partnered on several fundraisers and award ceremonies. Guests were able to select a food kit option for their household or business that was delivered the day of the event, fully packed, with descriptions and reheating instructions. Cru also has the ability to include the client’s logos and/or other information to further personalize each package. The organization’s Cru worked with also delivered a floral centerpiece, wine or beverages, as well as a package of materials and other personalized items for their virtual events. Everyone was able to tune in together and enjoy the meal and event from the comfort of their home!

Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events – Emeryville, CA:

· Paula LeDuc at Home: Offering seasonal multi-course Prix Fixe dinners, cocktails, cocktail hour kits, provisions, and wine – for delivery or pick-up at their kitchen in Emeryville

· Dinner and a Movie – Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Paula LeDuc’s team shows movies in their private lot. Dinner, beverages, and gourmet movie snacks are served by their staff and enjoyed by guests in the comfort and safety of their own vehicle.

· Gifts by Paula LeDuc – The team works with clients to create custom one-of-a-kind boxes for their employees, clients, and the community.

Plan

Caterers across the country have developed creative ways to move forward with in-person events while following all required health mandates. From wearing face masks and gloves to taking staff temperatures, they’ve made sure that their guests remain as safe as possible.

One of the ways our caterers have planned around new mandates is by limiting as much person to person contact as possible. Both Cru & Common Plea Catering have modified food and beverage service in a variety of ways. They currently have culinarians making plates at stations and passing them to the guests, they individually plate hors d’oeuvres, and tray pass beverages to reduce the number of people standing around a stationary bar. In addition, Cru Catering is utilizing more disposables so there is no cross-over or multiple uses, offering coasters with cute sayings or personalization to cover passed cocktails, and composing hors d’oeuvres in small boxes for guests to pick up.

Remain Poised

“Overall, the team at CPC realizes that we’ve got to make this ‘new normal’ work in order for us all to succeed and continue to gain our business back,” said Maggie Gooch, Common Plea Catering’s director of events. “No one has been exempt from the effects of COVID-19 and we are working hard to re-focus and adapt to the frequent changes in our industry.”

From a business perspective, Cru Catering noted that they are watching budgets, limiting staff, and altering job descriptions so that they can retain as many staff as possible.

The uncertainty of each day makes Pivoting, Planning, and Remaining Poised an integral part to the success of any event. Caterers from around the country continue to find unique ways to navigate the changing landscape of food and beverage service.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to the individuals at the catering companies that provided information for this blog post – Maggie at Common Plea Catering, Jenna and Angel at Cru Catering, and Nancy and Caroline at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering and Events. Keep up the amazing work!

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