What is the difference between a ‘Restaurant that Caters’ and a Professional Caterer?

What is the difference between a ‘Restaurant that Caters’ and a Professional Caterer?


Restaurant – Most restaurants that cater off-site events offer limited menu choices, such as strictly Mexican or strictly Italian food, so if you want Mexican and Italian you may need to contract with two different restaurants.  This can make your job much harder when planning an event.  Most cooks in restaurants are trained and specialize in the menu choices mainly on their own restaurant’s menu.

Professional Caterer – Uses industry professional chefs able to offer a nearly infinite variety for personalized menus.  They can create artistic buffets as well as crowd-pleasing chef-attended “action” food stations.  


Restaurants – Specialize in you coming to them. Cooks at restaurants that cater for off-site events typically prepare food in-house, move it into hot-boxes, and send it out with wait staff.  Hot boxes trap the heat, which can cause food to overcook and can also cause breaded items to become soggy during transport and holding times.  You rarely get the same quality you would enjoy ordering food fresh at the restaurant location.

Professional Caterer – Specializes in coming to your site.  Most caterers bring their equipment and talent to your event location.  Caterers will typically begin the preparation of their food at their commercial kitchen location, then have professional chefs complete preparation at your event site, resulting in fresher cuisine.

Equipment and Presentation

Restaurant – May provide limited equipment for your event such as disposable chafers, limited linens (usually white or checkered,) and may have limited resources to assist you with multiple facets of your event.


Professional Caterer – Most caterers employ event planners that can serve you as a “one-stop” shop.  They are equipped to assist you with all your event needs.  They can help with entertainment, centerpieces, specialty linens, rental equipment, seasoned employees, custom menus, valet parking, and many more event needs!


Helpful Hints

If you are planning a special event such as a wedding, corporate gathering, social event, or trying to impress your boss and/or clients, there are no “Do-Overs!”  Do your homework.   Ask for references.  Go see whomever you’re planning on hiring at an event in action if possible!  There certainly can be a huge difference between a “restaurant that caters” and a “professional caterer”.  We wish you all the best in planning your special event.

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