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From Nations Restaurant News – Catering at-home parties a boon for restaurants

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Catering at-home parties a boon for restaurants

By Mark Brandau

CHICAGO (Aug. 17, 2009)

 While the recession has taken a considerable toll on restaurant-based private parties and business catering for corporate lunches or meetings — sandwich chain Così said catering sales plummeted 27.5 percent decline in its last quarter — the restaurant industry has a $33.3 billion opportunity to grow consumer catering sales, Technomic found.

Technomic principal Melissa Wilson said the Chicago-based research firm was surprised that the potential for providing catered food to consumers’ homes was this large. As the recession continues to drive people to their homes for entertainment, she said, restaurants need to follow them there.

“This is where your customers are,” Wilson said. “They used to use restaurants as social venues, but now they’re entertaining at home. They’ve told us they plan to continue doing so because they’re enjoying socializing with friends at each other’s homes. In fact, 40 percent of consumers say they expect to entertain at home more often over the coming year.”

Read the rest of the article here:

This is definitely something that can help restaurants, especially independent restaurants with loyal customer bases. Several restaurants in my area have formed separate catering companies that serve the home market. At least one of them tries to serve different dayparts, doing breakfasts and lunches with special menu items. This restaurant is open for dinner only, so this allows them to help avoid either cannibalizing their current business or interfering with their in-restaurant operations by not diverting kitchen attention from in-dining room guests. They maximize their kitchen real estate by producing more sales per sq. foot. It’s a win-win all around.

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