Typical inspiration for starting a catering company. Now what?
Maybe the most important question that would-be caterers don’t think through completely before starting a catering company is, “Where will I prepare my food?” Seems like an obvious question, doesn’t it? In truth, all start up caterers probably do ask themselves this question, but all too often their answer is to prepare food in their own kitchen and transport it to the site. “What’s wrong with that,” you say?
According to the health department in most states (all that I’m aware of, but I admittedly have not researched it), it is not safe to sell food prepared in a kitchen that has not been inspected and licensed by your health department. At least, it’s not legal. Health departments require restaurants and caterers to operate kitchens that are equipped with NSF approved equipment, meet certain electrical and plumbing requirements, and all food safety codes concerning everything from shelf heights to cooler temperatures. Simply put, a standard home kitchen won’t do.
Many start up caterers seem to have no qualms about breaking the law, or at least are ignorant of it, so what does a conscientious citizen who wants to abide by the law do if they want to start up a catering company but don’t have the funds to lease a commercial kitchen right off the bat?
In the past, caterers looking to abide by health department rules needed to borrow/rent a kitchen from a restaurant or church to prepare their food in. Churches are great partners for this, as their kitchens are rarely used and often pretty big. Restaurants with space to rent are a little harder to come by. They have to work around their own business to let someone else come in and prepare food. Sometimes you can find a breakfast and lunch spot that will allow you to use the space at night, or occasionally you can find a restaurant with such a large kitchen they just have space to spare.
If you are asking this same question for yourself because you are wanting to start a catering company, then today is your lucky day. Just today, I happened upon a growing movement that I was previously unaware of. Small business conscious communities are finding facilities to offer something called “incubator kitchens” or “culinary incubators” to small business owners who need kitchen space to prepare food for parties, or produce and package food for retail sales (this usually requires additional licensing). Some even have space availabe to rent for parties and events, making them essentially “banquet halls” with open food policies.
These culinary incubators charge low hourly rates to business owners to rent space to prepare food in a safe, compliant, licensed kitchen. One such kitchen in my own city only charges $15 per hour to rent. Many of these kitchens are located inside non-profit business development centers that are not looking to make money, but rather to foster small business growth.
While it’s still a great option for a caterer to borrow a church kitchen in exchange for a percentage contribution from the sale of their food, these new incubator kitchens sound like an incredible idea that could help a lot of new caterers get their business started with very little cash outlay. To help you try and locate one, here is a map of incubator kitchens all over the country from culinaryincubator.com. If you don’t find one on here near you, don’t give up, Google “culinary incubator” and “incubator kitchen” in your area to see if there is one near you.
An article about restaurant consumer demographic data from the National Restaurant Association’s Annual Report. Make sure to read all the pages…
Great article by Roy Bergold via QSRMagazine.com
In order to effectively convey what it takes to create an effective logo, I think it is important to outline the qualities of an effective logo.
- An effective logo is easy to recognize, even at a glance or at a distance
- An effective logo is easy to remember
- An effective logo tells people who you are
- An effective logo tells people what you do
- An effective logo suggests your service style
An effective logo may also have one “bonus” attribute that can make it not only effective, but outstanding. Your logo may also convey your unique selling point.
Knowing what it is that an effective logo conveys, we can start to look at some design qualities an effective logo has and doesn’t have, and why they are important.
Hopefully, your restaurant has a color scheme. Your scheme helps identify you and should consist of two contrasting colors. From those two colors, you can also find complimentary colors to use in the interior and exterior decoration of your restaurant. Often, the color black or another third color can be used to make the primary colors “pop”. It’s also good to know that certain colors have distinct psychological effects on how people behave. You may have noticed that many large chain restaurants use the colors red and yellow in their restaurant designs. These two colors make people feel “excited”. Research has shown that this excitement leads customers to eat more inside the restaurants they are used in.
A gradient is the resulting color pattern when one color fades into another color. This effect may look artistic and interesting, but it muddles your logo and makes it harder to recognize at a glance or distance. It also makes reproducing your logo more expensive or even impossible with some reproduction methods, like embroidery. Stay away from gradients if you want a logo that is easy to recognize and easy to remember.
Bevels and highlights
Effects such as beveling, which makes the center of an object look raised while the edge appears to “drop down”, and highlighting serve to muddle an images appearance just as gradients do. While the effects look artistic and make the logo more interesting, it also makes the logo more difficult to see at a glance or distance, and harder to commit to memory. In logo design, too much detail results in a bad logo.
After the last two paragraphs, I hope you don’t need much detail on why shadows, especially drop shadows, are bad for a logo. They add artsy detail that only serves to confuse the image. It’s extra detail that is there more for the logo artists ego than to make the logo more effective. Remember, “attractive” doesn’t equal “effective”.
One of the most common logo design mistakes is using a font that is too hard to read, or putting a font on a background whose color does not contrast enough with the color of the font, resulting in lettering that doesn’t stand out enough. If the words on your logo are lost because they are too hard to read, you don’t have an effective logo.
What words you use in your logo and how they are emphasized based on the font size and color will greatly affect your logo’s ability to be recognized and remembered easily. More importantly, a poorly worded logo will not communicate to your potential customers who you are and what you do. Without communicating your identity and your message, your logo might as well be a blue dot with no words. An example would be a restaurant that just calls itself “Ralph’s” and has a logo consisting of the name “Ralph’s” over a plain background, like a circle, with no other words. This logo could easily convey what the business does by adding the word “restaurant” to the logo. It could communicate even better by including words that says what Ralph’s Restaurant sells, like “Ralph’s Sub Sandwiches”. Another approach would be to not have the extra words, but to use an image or background that infers “restaurant” or “sub sandwiches”. For example, Ralph’s could be spelled out between two hoagie bun images with a lettuce leaf on top and a tomato on bottom. This would leave no doubt that Ralph’s is selling sub sandwiches.
An effective logo doesn’t just need an easy to recognize color scheme, and words that effectively convey what the business sells. An effective logo also needs to utilize a basic geometric shape that helps identify the logo when someone is too far away to read the words. Along with a basic two color scheme, a shape in a logo makes that logo very easy to recognize. Think of McDonalds big yellow “M” or Burger King’s split yellow sphere (probably a bun) with a blue swoosh around the name and sphere. They create basic shapes and color patterns that are easy to recognize as soon as the sign comes into view, long before you are close enough to read the words.
Overall, you can summarize these design points by just reminding yourself to “keep it simple”. Too much detail may win some “oohs” and “aahs” from your friends, or make you feel better about your design prowess, but it won’t result in a logo that accomplishes the most basic task a logo is intended for, making people remember you and what you do.