If I see another Hamburger or Hot Dog…

To me, July speaks of fireworks, watermelons, yard games and bbq’s.  Lots of bbqs.   In our industry, summer can be one of the busiest seasons of the year – and one of the most boring menu seasons too.  Planning a picnic?  What’s on the menu?  Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Watermelon or fruit display, beans or potato salad.  It’s fairly common to see the same kind of menu go out the door, proposal after proposal after…everyone wants a good picnic for a fair price, and when we’re talking budget for a picnic – we’re talking hamburgers and hot dogs.  Break out of the picnic doldrums! Spice it up this year – and you don’t have to sacrifice entertainment or any other part of the budget to do it.

It pays to ask.  Just calling and asking your caterer for a bbq menu doesn’t cut the mustard (pardon the pun) – and a good caterer won’t let you off the phone without asking a whole slew of questions about your overall event.  Cut the time down by being very clear about what you want from your caterer:

BBQ menu for 100 people (80 adults, 20 kids), date, time, any kind of theme that you may have for your event.  All pretty standard information, right?  Now give more.  Tell your caterer that you are getting bids from 2 other caterers, tell them what your budget is, and be fair.  You know how much you want to spend on catering, so tell them!  If they are a great caterer, they will do whatever they can to keep you in your budget, and if it’s too low, they should tell you that too so that you can move on.  Make sure you specify with them if your budget is inclusive of taxes and gratuities too.  And tell them what you don’t want. 

Need ideas? Lisa at Avenue Catering tells me that one of her favorite menus to bid out to clients who are looking for something different this year is the European faire menus.  Cold cuts, fresh rolls, fresh vegetables, fruits and cheeses – all arranged in a way that the guests can build their own sandwiches.  Add a few bottles of wine and throw down some good old fashioned picnic blankets, and VOILA!  You’ve broken out of the picnic mold!  I love this idea, and depending on just how European you want to get with your menu, it can range from $14 per person up to $25 per person.  You could really theme out this kind of picnic by including gifts for the guests too.  Each family receiving a picnic basket and a blanket with your company logo on it, Frisbees, lawn games, a little music for background – live or Memorex…  This is officially my favorite way to picnic.  (Thanks, Lisa!)

If the BBQ is what’s important to your menu, Porter’s may be your best bet to get away from the typical menus.  Simple menus ranging from 9.95 per person to 15.95 per person, all barbecue food and no hot dogs or hamburgers.  Plus, Porter’s has The Man.  Have you met The Man?  The Man is Porter’s signature hot sauce – a sauce that will make you re-think spicy.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!

Bandi at Design Perfect suggests a classic Fried Chicken menu, complete with salads and a build your own Strawberry Shortcake station.   MMMMmmmm….

Break out of the hot dog mentality!

– Marketing Maven

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