Post # 1
We are having a brunch/lunch reception on a Saturday afternoon, and I started calling around to get pricing options. I’ve been told I’m likely looking at $80/head for a buffet meal with set seating. That just seems so expensive to me… are my expectations that out of whack?
Anyone know of any caterers that work in downtown Chicago that might offer better pricing?
We want to have all our friends and family at our reception, but it’s really going to be determined by the cost of the food … we just can’t stomach spending $30k just for one afternoon of fun…
Post # 3
I suspect part of it is because you are in a major metropolitan area which will increase the price. Caterers are negotiable, dont forget.
Tell the caterers what you are comfortable spending and ask them what they can do for that price. You may have to give up beef, and go for pasta etc, but they typically can make most budgets work.
Post # 4
$80 a head sounds very high to me even for Chicago (though it kind of depends on what your menu is & whether they are supplying wait staff & linens etc.).
Talk to these folks
a lot of my friends have used them (Justin & Molly are supposedly very flexible in working in your budget) & I know the food is great.
Post # 5
Depending on what the $80 per person includes, that might not be so steep for Chicago. Does that include beverages, wait staff and graituity, linens, dessert, coffee services etc, etc? Looking for sit-down dinner options in the suburbs, I was finding around the same price range or higher, sometimes without the extras. Sadly, Chicago is pricey!
Post # 6
Most of the caterers I’ve seen are around that for city proper. We’re looking into J&L, Limelight, etc. Word of advice – read the Yelp reviews! Can’t remember who, but one of them had terrible reviews.
Post # 7
I’m in the Boston area, and I’m paying something like $80-85/head for catering. BUT! That includes food, waitstaff, barstaff, chairs, tables, linens, flatware, china, drinkware, and tent rental. The food itself only comes to about $35-40 head.
Post # 8
Agreed, that does seem high, unless it includes a lot with it. I would normally expect brunch/lunch affair to be cheaper than a evening dinner. To give you a comparison, I’m being charged $92 per person but that’s all inclusive: venue, dinner (includes apps and a 4 course meal), booze, tables, linens, centerpieces, wedding cake etc. Keep shopping around!!!
Since you’re doing a buffet, you might want to consider looking into having a restaurant cater the meal. You’re not going to get the extras like the tables, chairs, etc but the food itself should be more reasonable.
Post # 9
What else does that include? Does it include linens, tables, chairs, food, staff, tax, tips, drinks, liquor, dessert? If it includes all of that, $80 may be a good rate.
If it is just food, liquor, staff, dessert, that does seem high. We are looking for caterers in Chicago as well, our venue can’t stop raving about Ocassions Chicago, we have a tasting on 10/16 and they are already working with us on our budget. We also looked at D’Absolute, and I suspect that they are the cheapest (food was pretty good too).
Post # 10
Thanks for your comments all. I will check out the other caterers. It did NOT include alcohol (because the venue itself has union bartenders that must do that part) nor does it include dessert/cake. I’m not sure if it includes the table/chair rental, but I should find out by the end of the week when I get the formal proposal.
I’m going to check out some restaurant venues too, I think… though that would give it a much different feel.
Post # 11
i scoured the boards and interwebz for the best deal on a caterer and found mario’s events. best deal in illinois. mind you, there are hardly any reviews online (even though they’ve been in business for 30 years), but i just trusted my instincts (i’m crazy like that:) and decided to use them anyway. they did a fantastic job! so, so, so affordable! we used them for our tables and chair rentals (in this area, they seem to be right along with the competition).
but, what got me was the affordable catering packages, which included servers, linens, plates, glasses (they provide water, champagne/wine glass and coffee cups per person—you would have to rent extra glasses for other drinks, but their glass rentals are much more affordable than others), silverware and a 4 course dinner plus coffee service. We had hors d’ouevres, a cake and sweet table from them too. the cake was delicious and so affordable. we did decide to do our own alcohol because that was more affordable for us, but we hired their bar tenders. if i hadn’t found them, d’absolute catering seemed to be the next in the running. another bee reader used them and gave a good review (search etwedding).
just a note, they do events with thousands of people (one of the reasons i put my trust in them — we were “only” having 175 guests). they are so awesome, they don’t need online reviews. because of this, they do group tastings from january-march (or maybe through april). because i didn’t find them until much later (last minute bride here), they were kind enough to offer me a private tasting. they didn’t make a whole lot of stuff for us, but it was enough. i’m sure you’re better off going to the big group tastings for more variety. we did a family-style meal, but they do buffets also. please feel free to pm if you ave more ?’s. my husband and i wanted to do a wedding in the city without breaking the bank. it’s possible. check our etwedding’s bio. she did her wedding in the city also. i am going to be doing recaps and reviews when i get my pro pics back.