Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that event planning can be an overwhelming experience, and with this FAQ, we hope that we can answer all of your questions and put your mind at ease. It is important to us that our clients know what to expect when making the important decision of selecting a catering company.
What Information Must I Provide In Order To Receive A Menu Proposal/Sample Menu/Quote?
The following information helps us to give the most accurate prices and to create a great menu proposal:
- Contact person’s name, billing address, phone number, and email.
- Event type (birthday party, bridal shower, etc.), date, time, and venue (ballroom, private living room, etc.)
- Event theme or style (Latin-influences, pastel colors, etc.)
- Food specifications (kosher, gluten –free, lots of chocolate, vegetarian, etc.)
- Any additional non-catering specific needs you’d like us to coordinate (linen rental, tables/chairs rental, décor, entertainment, etc.)
- Anything else you think we ought to know to get the best possible sense of the experience you want to give your guests.
What Makes Special Events Catering By Les Unique?
- We customize our menus for every event, which allows us to design your menu perfectly for your vision, preferences, and to suit any style.
- We cook or finish all of our food on-site so it is as fresh as possible when it reaches your guests.
- We train all our staff in house so your guests will receive top-notch service.
- We can coordinate your rental needs for tables/chairs/linens, as well as taking care of your floral, cake, and most all other needs to add elegance and value to your event. This saves you time, money, and the headache of keeping track of zillions of vendors!
For Your Information
Since Special Events Catering by Les customizes menus for every event, there are endless possibilities and styles for what you can serve your guests. The most popular option is an evening reception with passed hors d’ oeuvres to start, a pre-plated salad, a buffet dinner, and a dessert or cake station. The types of cuisine you choose and the time of your reception primarily determine menu price. Of course, we can add to or subtract any options you choose!
The Hors D’Oeuvres Myth
Many request an hors d’ oeuvres only event thinking it may be less expensive than a traditional dinner. This is not necessarily true. If the reception is held during dinner time (5-8pm) guests and their appetites will be ready for dinner (even if the invitation says otherwise). Individual hors d’ oeuvres are more labor intensive to make, and in turn more costly than a classic buffet because of the quantity needed to feed guests during the typical dinner time. An hors d‘oeuvres reception is a great option for early afternoon or late weddings (2-5pm or 8-11pm).
Keep in mind as you are planning your event that the cost of the menu is usually about 40-50% of the total amount you will spend with a caterer. The other 50-60% will go towards labor, bar service, rentals (plates, glassware, flatware, linens, etc), service charge, and tax. Remember, we can take care of all of your bar services and rentals at a better price than if you go it alone!
Ways to Save While Still Having Great Food
If you have a limited budget you might consider a breakfast or brunch event. These menus are typically 30% less expensive than dinner. Another way to lower your menu cost is by doing a dessert reception, where your guests can sample an elaborate display of sweet treats. This works well if the ceremony is around 7:30p.m. You can even take it a step further and offer wine pairings with each dessert.
Which Service Style Is Right For You
Service style is one of the most important decisions to consider when planning the catering portion of your event. Think about how you want things to flow and what the experience will be like for your guests.
Buffet dinners are one of the most popular service styles. At Special Events Catering by Les, we take pride in presenting the food in creative and unique ways and believe buffets should look as beautiful as the rest of the event. We often pair a pre-plated salad course with our buffets to ease guest flow. We also can recommend the appropriate number of buffets necessary to serve all of your guests in a timely manner with minimal lines. By choosing a buffet, the cost of the food may be higher than a plated meal because the guests (not our chefs) usually determine portion size.
Plated dinners are the most formal and elegant service style, where every course is served to your guests. They are typically more expensive because of the increased labor needed to serve all guests in a timely manner. Our goal is to serve all guests in under 20 minutes. A dual entrée (small portion of two entrees, i.e. beef and fish) is a great way to avoid having to compile orders from guests on rsvp cards and also helps with the speed and efficiency of dinner service.
Family style dinners are a fun and creative way for your guests to interact with each other. A large platter or bowl of each item is brought to the table and guests pass it around helping to serve each other. Staffing requirements are similar to plated dinners. It also requires that guests are willing to be part of the service.
Stations are a fun and unique way to incorporate a wide variety of menu options and creativity. Two to four food stations are set up around the room and guests can move from station to station sampling a variety of foods. This works best for weddings with a more relaxed time frame. Additional plates are required so guests can sample food from all stations over a longer period of time. Many of our stations have action components where a chef will be making or assembling a food item to order for each guest.
Behind The Scenes
Are You Experienced? Licensed?
Our company is licensed and holds a liquor license, in addition to having more than 30 years of experience. We are fully insured as well. Venues typically keep copies of this paperwork on file, but if your venue needs this information, let us know and we’ll get it right to them!
Can You Give Me Some References?
Our website includes many quotes… those aren’t stock quotes or random things we’ve made up, they’re verbatim words straight from the clients’ mouths!
How are Staff Hours Calculated?
- Staff hours are estimated portal-to-portal, which means the time our event staff leaves the Special Events Catering by Les headquarters until the time they return at the end of the night.
- We require at least two hours of set up for events and at least one hour of clean up, minimum, and we are happy to provide a personalized estimate for your proposal, as this hinges on many event-specific details.
What is the Industry Standard Surcharge?
The Surcharge is not a gratuity and is calculated on food and beverage sales. The surcharge is used to supplement the wages of all of our staff, not just the staff working each individual event. This includes the wages of the staff that loads and cleans the equipment, the cooks that prepare the food in the kitchen, and the event staff. The surcharge is also used to retain and train our event staff so we are able to avoid using temporary staffing services. It also helps offset the non-catering related elements of a party such as administrative costs, vehicle maintenance, gas for the vehicles, and insurance costs.
Is Gratuity Included on the Proposal?
Our wait staff does not rely on gratuity for their compensation; They are paid fair wages well above minimum wage, not a tip credit wage or a “waiter’s wage.” Gratuity is not included in our proposal. If you believe the staff at your event exceeded your expectations, please feel free to give them a gratuity at the end of the night. You may also add that gratuity to your final payment and we will distribute the gratuity accordingly.
How is Sales Tax Calculated?
Your tax depends on the location of the event – not the billing address. Cities and Counties around the state have different rates to be collected. Caterers are required by law to collect sales tax on food, equipment, labor, and service charges.
Trained and Professional Staff
All of our service staff are hired and trained in house by our management team. We do not use temporary staffing services, which means your guests will receive top notch service. Our staff typically arrives two hours prior to the start of the event for set up and will be there until at least one hour after guests depart to clean up.
Wine and Spirits for the Evening
The service of alcohol will depend on the venue you choose for your event. Unlike many other catering companies, we hold a liquor license and are able to offer you a full array of options, as well as staff. We look forward to serving your guests your favorites, their favorites, and we can even create a specialty cocktail in your honor- just ask!
Rentals Help Make Your Vision a Reality
Rental items can enhance the overall feel of your event. At Special Events Catering by Les, we are able to facilitate the rental of a variety of plates, glassware, tables, chairs and décor. Our staff can help determine your rental needs based on your venue, number of guests, and a few other event-specific details.
In addition to staff and food, our proposal will include all of these items so you will be able to see the total cost for catering on one bill. If the venue you select has an exclusive contract with a rental company, we are happy to coordinate the rentals for you and include it in our proposal.
We hope this information has been helpful. Please contact us with the details listed above to receive your personalized custom menu proposal!