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Why did my Caterer include a Service Fee?

I get this question a lot. From the moment we are contacted by a client, we are on the clock; long office hours, menu creation, invoicing, food sourcing, food prep, staffing, coordination with event planners, revision and confirmation calls, setup, delivery, breakdown, etc, all take an extensive amount of time. We try to operate as transparently as possible so my answer is this, "An incredible amount of unseen work goes into delivering delicious food to a location. The quality of service we provide means that you will not have to worry about us on the day of your event."

No, many nationwide food service providers don't add a service fee for dropping off breakfast sandwiches and coffee or foil pans of fajitas. They tend to work on a different scale, they heat and serve preprepared food from a major production facility that was transported in a vacuum seal bag a week ago and pay their staff much less.

It should also be addressed, a service fee is not gratuity. Gratuity is divided among non-owner and non-managment staff. However, due to the unpredictable nature of gratuity in catering services, we have opted to pay our staff well so that we can retain a quality team. Gratuity is always appreciated by our hard-working team as it shows they were appreciated by the client.

Because we offer catering and food truck services, there is occasional confusion about why a service fee would be added to a food truck booking. The answer is, it entirely depends on the type of service that is being requested from the food truck. Many times, the food truck is simply serving as a catering vehicle and backdrop. When there is a set menu for which the host has paid for the entire meal, a service fee is included. This does not apply to public events where individual customers are ordering and paying for their food.

To further understand why we include a service fee on a catered type event, please continue reading.

Service Fee

A standard component of the bill for catering services, it serves to account for various expenses associated with delivering a high-quality catering experience. This fee is distinct from the basic cost of the food and beverages provided. Let's explore the reasons why a service fee is typically included:

  1. Staffing and Labor Costs: Catering entails more than just preparing and delivering food; it requires a team of skilled professionals to set up, serve guests, and handle post-event cleanup. The service fee helps cover the wages, benefits, and training of the catering staff involved. This includes chefs, servers, bartenders, event managers, and other personnel necessary to ensure efficient operations.

  2. Event Planning and Coordination: Caterers invest considerable time and effort in meticulously planning and coordinating every aspect of an event. This includes consultations with the client, customized menu creation, venue coordination, logistical arrangements, and event design. The service fee compensates for the expertise and coordination efforts of the catering team.

  3. Equipment and Supplies: Caterers require specialized equipment, serving utensils, tableware, linens, and other supplies to execute an event successfully. The service fee helps cover the costs of maintaining and replenishing these items, ensuring they are clean, presentable, and suitable for the occasion.

  4. Setup and Cleanup: A professional catering service assumes responsibility for the setup and cleanup of the event space. This involves arranging tables, chairs, linens, decorations, and ensuring the venue is left clean and orderly after the event. The service fee contributes to compensating for the time, effort, and labor invested in these tasks.

  5. Additional Services: Depending on the caterer and the specific event, the service fee may encompass additional services. These could include cake cutting, coat check, valet parking, audiovisual setup, or event coordination beyond the standard catering responsibilities.

By including this fee, the catering company can deliver a comprehensive service, allowing you to enjoy the event without having to worry about logistical details.

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