Serving Buffet Style Timing

Joined May 27, 2015
I am serving 900 buffet style, will set up 4 service lines with 2 attendants each line. I need to know approximately how long it will take to serve that many.

Choices include 2 meats, 2 sides

I own a food truck and base kitchen, we have done catering on a smaller scale and understand pricing lol. Just not sure on how long it will take to get everyone feed.

Joined Aug 21, 2004
A few variables there. Are the guests plating their food or are the attendants? Buffet lines single or double sided?How simple and self explanatory are the menu items? Etc. etc. etc. My educated guess without more info would be, if single sided buffet line, quickest I could see it happening would be 1 hour, 2 is more reasonable, knowing people are involved could be closer to 3.
Joined May 27, 2015
The guest will be plating their own pasta and relish, we will plate meats. Running double sided serving tables with one plating meat and one replenishing. Meat choices include shaved prime rib sandwiches and pulled pork, salads are pasta and slaw. Relish tray will be olives, pickles and peppers, chips will be individual bags
Joined Jan 31, 2012
Okay just so I see straight.....

900 covers, 4 stations, 2 servers per station, 2 meat choices,. That's aprx 225 per station. 

Guests hit a self-service buffet first, then go thru the meat line with food already on their plate,

where a server asks their meat choice, then plops it on their bread or plate. 

Do I have that right? 

If so, assuming its a "ready-set-go" service, in other words when the caterer's ready to serve, 

guest are sent up as a group all at once.....(as opposed to them straggling in over an hour or 2)

then I would guestimate you can have all 900 served in 20 to 30 minutes.  40 minutes tops.

This depends on a few important factors:

1) Having at least one "runner" to replenish the buffet items and the meats as needed. 

(And he or she WILL be busy!) 

2) Logistics are very important: So its crucial both the self buffet table, and any stations after the

meat line (like condiments etc) are separated from the meat serving stations by at least 15 or 20 feet. 

(even if you have to put it on the other side of the room)

While it looks great when the place is empty, having your setup close together is what causes bottlenecks.  

5 minutes into serving you can just FEEL your serving line screeching to a snails pace. 

But when it's run smoothly, it kicks butt-- I regularly fed 250 to 300 people with that setup: 1 station, 1 server,

and 1 runner, and choice of 3 20 minutes or less. Which brings up:  

3) Your servers can't let the guests "dawdle" and take time mulling over their chooice of meat. (Ergh this happnened 

ALL the time with BBQ chicken) It's up to THEM to keep the lines moving, and not let themselves be delayed by 

pushy people. 

I would also note that with 4 serving stations, its also VERY useful to have someone (a runner is fine) 

"directing traffic" , telling people out loud, "this line is shorter, and all the stations are the same food" etc. 

keeping the flow working well, much like a supermarket checker walking to your basket saying

"I can take you over here" . 

Hoping that was helpful. 
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