Stretch Your F & B Dollars – Part III

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in Insider Tips | 1 comment

Stretch Your F & B Dollars – Part III

The last two articles were based on stretching your dollars on the cocktail and dinner portion of your programs. This article will focus on “stations” and the networking opportunities.

As ALWAYS, define the goal of your event. Let us also look at how the timing plays into this scenario. Typically, we attend events to network, find business and renew relationships. With that said, “stations events” are one of the best ways to accomplish that goal. We need to also look at how best to utilize our time. What I mean here is how long does this event last? Are there other components to the event; for example, will dinner follow, will there be a time in which there needs to be a presentation? Are there entertainment factors added to this event, either for the “wow” or as a celebratory piece? These questions and others will really assist you in determining how your event and the F & B dollars are spent, and where we could trim.

Let’s look at 1st the duration, usually three or at the most four hours. If we start off with passed hors-d’oeuvres then the opening of the stations could be done about ½ hour or 45 minutes after the opening of the doors. This will allow for a good majority of your guests to arrive. This also saves you a few (yes that is correct) nickels, dimes and quarters! We could then concentrate our dollars on the stations. Here again with simple fresh items (vegetables, flowers, etc.) we are able to enhance the presentation of the station. If our budget allows, there are some very creative table designers and decorators, who I am blessed to call friends that will do an awesome job for you. (Let me know and I will give you their information). However, when we look at trimming it all added up.
The stations need to measure up to you and your clients goals. The menu for example needs to “be dinner”, then you do need to have some items to “fill-you-up”. A good way to do that is starch!

Given my heritage, I am very fond of pasta. There are more ways to do pasta than I can begin to explain here, but when you are constructing the menu, look at the items that you are placing with the pasta. Are you sautéing shrimp and scallops? Do you need to? Well if the answer is “yes” I want that look and statement, then I would say, how about a wonderful pasta (your favorite) sautéed in a shrimp sauce and garnished w/ a large shrimp or u-10 sea scallop. You get the presentation and instead of needing any shrimp and scallops… you use it where you also get an impact, right there on top. This idea may require an additional staff person, but in the big picture, the staff person will cost you less than 2 0r 3 shrimp per person.

Let’s say that you need to have carving station. You really want tenderloin, and your client loves the idea, but is not willing to spend the dollars for tenderloin to be carved for the guests. How could we satisfy that request? Well here is an approach that I used recently, I worked with the catering manager and chef to develop a station in which we incorporated a slice of tenderloin (not multiple) and had it served with a really rich mushroom risotto as an accompaniment with a great demi-glace sauce. This cut down the number of tenderloins that I would have needed for the event (this was for 300 attendees) and allowed us to have a great plate presentation at about 1/3 the cost of the carving station. I found a few quarters here!

The overall misconception that buffets “cost” more because it is more food, more labor etc. is a good argument, if you do not look at ways to be creative in your menu construction, table needs and layout. Remember that it all, every piece of the event, is made up of dollars. You need to look at ways to trim the nickels, dimes and quarters.

How about “Networking” (I promised that I would get this in)? When you are planning a “stations event” make sure that you know your space and the logistics. We all like to go to an event that is “full” but not too crowded. Make sure that you are able to spread the stations and bars out with enough room for the guest to get around, get to the stations and get out from the station to enjoy their plate. Make sure that you have enough room also for “high top” tables. This acts as a “gathering place” for four or five people, without the commitment of a seat. That means that I could go to a high top with my plate, join the group, have a conversation, eat my food and move on to network more…  and of course enjoy the stations.

So the idea really is speak with your caterer/catering manager and get creative, once you know your goal and of course your budget. It’s the nickels, dimes and quarters that we find which will make the difference. It is also how well we are able to work with others in our industry to accomplish our goals.

Happy Events to us all! And Enjoy!!!

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