Restaurant Industry Insights

The Next Catering Boom, a Strategic Move for Restaurants?

As the return-to-office trend gains momentum, numerous companies require employees to spend several days weekly in the office. This shift provides a unique chance for restaurants to meet the increasing demand for catered lunches, drawing employees away from home workspaces and back to their office desks.

Catering Market Overview

The U.S. catering sector achieved an impressive $72.7 billion in the previous year, and the future looks promising. Expert Market Research forecasts an annual growth rate of 6.2% from 2024 to 2032, envisioning the market to exceed $124 billion by 2032. Social and business catering are flourishing, with offices using food incentives to motivate their workforce and consumers hosting more events. Free or discounted meals have become crucial tools for companies aiming to bring employees back to the office and enhance team engagement, which is an opportunity for you.

Strategic Move for Restaurants

TouchBistro’s 2024 State of Restaurants Report reveals that 54% of restaurants plan to introduce catering services this year, outpacing other revenue-boosting strategies. Workplace catering isn’t merely a trend; it’s a strategic move for restaurant operators. It facilitates efficient labor management quick product turnover, and tends to be more labor-efficient. Catering orders, when taken in advance, empower restaurants to optimize staffing, ensuring they can meet demand effectively.

Office Catering and the Hybrid Workforce

The rise of the hybrid workforce is driving the surge in office catering. Companies are hoping to entice employees with meals and other perks. With predictable demand on Tuesday through Thursday – peak hybrid workdays – restaurants can strategically plan their operations.

Catering to Consumer Preferences

Consumer preferences should influence catering menus, calling for flexibility with vegan, gluten-free, and allergy-friendly options. The trend of individual meals and boxed lunches, popularized during the pandemic, remains popular. Consider simple menus that you can make at scale, items that hold well if not eaten quickly, and positively represent your restaurant’s food. As restaurants evolve, partnering with third-party vendors and delivery services becomes a strategic move for smaller establishments to expand their catering business despite potential high fees.

Building Your Own Catering Business

Investing in building your private catering can be invaluable. Saving on third-party fees should be enough incentive to tackle the challenges of growing a catering program. A second significant advantage is that many corporate clients tip generously, a perk third-party services often absorb for their delivery drivers. Selling directly allows your staff to share in the windfall, enhancing their engagement and morale.

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