Outdoor catering offers many opportunities for food truck operators. Here are five tips to help food truck operators prepare for an outdoor catering event.
With the onset of summer in much of the country, more and more people are planning to hold their events outdoors and that’s good news for food truck operators. But while the warmer months are perfect for outdoor catering at events such as weddings and picnics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way food service operators plan events. events.
Social distancing guidelines have forced many venues to allow indoor dining at a reduced capacity, while others have stopped eating indoors altogether and moved to serving guests on their outdoor patio.
Hosting catering events can open up a number of opportunities for a food truck business, but first, a food truck operator must be prepared to create dishes outside of a typical kitchen setting.
Check out these top five outdoor dining tips to help you prepare for that next outdoor event.
1. Familiarize yourself with your site
It’s best to visit the venue before the event so you can plan your outdoor catering setup and see the resources that are available to you.
The layout of the venue may dictate the equipment you will need as well as your service plan. For example, if you work from a truck that needs to be parked out of sight of guests, it’s important to know how far your servers will need to haul dishes and other supplies from your prep space. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the space is large enough to accommodate your guests while promoting social distancing.
If you can’t get to the site before the day of the event, be sure to contact the site representative and tell them about the site plan. Don’t forget to ask questions about the smallest details that you might have discovered if you had seen the site. Asking questions about the terrain, location of electrical hookups, and lighting levels can easily be overlooked, but these details can influence your ability to work on the day of the event.
2. Know your zoning restrictions and have the required permits
Zoning ordinances are generally used to differentiate between commercial and residential spaces, and often define how a particular geographic area may be used.
Local government policies may imply zoning restrictions for the event, particularly if you are working in a temporary space such as a closed street or parking lot.
In many places, permits are also required for approval from the health department, fire marshal, and other officials. If you don’t plan the event, make sure you know the approved plans to avoid fines.
3. Plan your menu according to the space
When choosing your menu items, consider how outside conditions might affect what your guests would like to eat. Some factors that could influence your decision include available space, time of year, and noise level.
For example, if your guests are dining next to loudspeakers that are playing loud music, some guests may not want to sit for very long and would prefer easily transportable food to be taken to a quieter location.
Customers in crowded dining areas may feel the same way. On the other hand, guests at an outdoor wedding are usually willing to be seated for a full meal, regardless of the noise level or the number of people present.
4. Have a backup plan in case of bad weather
One of the trickiest aspects of outdoor dining is the weather, which can instantly put your meal service out of service if you’re not prepared for it. However, it’s important not to assume the event is canceled if the weather turns out to be less than ideal.
Preparing for inclement weather with the right protocols and supplies can help save your event in the event of a storm. For example, having a canopy tent handy can provide shelter for your guests as well as your gear.
When installing, take the time to check that the extension cords and generators powering your equipment can be safely protected from the rain. Many outdoor catering supplies aren’t completely waterproof, so covering your prep area is a must to protect them.
Failure to prepare a contingency plan could embarrass you on the day of the event and could hamper your ability to complete your duties.
5. Choose equipment compatible with the space
Cooking outside of a traditional kitchen can present many challenges for those unaccustomed to it. Without the comforts of a kitchen, having the right outdoor catering equipment for your space can determine how well your event runs. Below are some key things to consider when deciding how to create your temporary outdoor kitchen.
Power sources and connections. Having a power source is useful for any refrigerators or cabinets you might need for food preparation. Even if the venue provides one, consider having a generator and extension cords on hand to ensure your equipment can be powered when you arrive on site.
When buying a generator, make sure that its voltage is compatible with your equipment. You don’t want to invest in a generator that has less capacity than your equipment requires.
Liquid propane or natural gas for cooking. Decide if you want to work with liquid propane or natural gas as the heat source for cooking.
Liquid propane is more energy efficient, so you may not need to bring as many heavy tanks with you to your location. On the other hand, natural gas is often more cost effective than propane.
When selecting your power source, don’t feel limited by the option your equipment is already configured for. In many cases, you can purchase conversion kits to make your supplies compatible with the selected source. Be sure to have a professional install your conversion kit securely before your event.
Portable cooking equipment. If you host outdoor events often, you may want to invest in mobile outdoor catering equipment. Supplies such as outdoor grills and portable gas stoves are easy to move from place to place. Plus, there are plenty of options designed for simple setup, so you can connect to power and start cooking.
Outdoor catering events can help your business make the most of the warmer months. Additionally, as we continue to promote social distancing, outdoor events provide a safer environment for your guests and staff than indoor events.
This article was provided by The Webstaurant Store.