Wanting to Get in the Catering Business

Joined Feb 24, 2018
This is my first post and I want to thank you in advance for reading!

I am a 27 year old that enjoys cooking anything and everything. I would love to open my own catering business, but I have a few hurdles. First, I have about $38,000 in student loan debt. I say this because would it hinder me from getting a business loan? Second, I don't know where to begin in regards of starting a catering business. If anyone has any info, I will gladly accept it.

Thank You!
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Not to be Debbie Downer but, the possibility of you getting a loan to start a food service business is highly unlikely.
Go work for a caterer for a few years, get some experience, then rethink your plans. There are many dimensions to catering, do you know what type of catering you want to do?
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi O'Hara!

Since you list your experience as Culinary student, what have your teachers told you?
They know you better than anyone here and can give you an overview of the general hurdles you face.
One thing for sure, get real good at making lists!

Look at what EVERY caterer in your area is offering. All of them!

Unless you want to compete directly with well established caterers, you may want to do something they are not doing.
Even if you can identify an untapped market,
If you have a comprehensive plan to fill a gap in the catering in your area, money always flows to really good ideas!
You have a lot of homework and brainstorming ahead of you! Don't forget all the legal stuff like licensing, passing inspection, taxes, insurance, etc.

"Catering" is a very broad term. Are you thinking mobile BBQ, private chef, or sit down dinners for 1,000 with matching linens?

There is a Wiki for starting a catering business as well as many links that show the basics. I'm not posting links here, but do a "start a catering business" search...

Good luck!
Joined Sep 21, 2001
Do as Chefbuba suggests. Pay off those loans before starting and kind of business. Good luck.
Better yet? Get a job working for a caterer to pay off those loans.
I'm a big believer in learning new skills using other peoples' money.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Welcome O'Hara Girl. All the other Chefs explained and talked about starting a business and getting a loan with your outstanding Loans. I also think getting a job with a caterer would help you learn some of the logistics involved in catering. Most people in this business know how to cook food. Most of those people screw up with logistics and serving a good quality food off site.

All things being said, when I started my catering business I did it with a small amount of money. I did have a kitchen available because of my food service management company. If I didn't have a kitchen available I would look at talking with Churches, Community centers and other facilities that have full kitchens that you may be able to rent as needed. I would also approach restaurants and cafes that may only have M-F breakfast and lunch service. This would give you an opportunity to lease space from them to do your evening and weekend catering. Everything you need to do offsite catering can be rented. You can figure all that into your cost. Try to think outside the box and see how you can accomplish this with very little money. You also need to figure out how your going to get clients........Good Luck......ChefBillyB
Joined Jun 29, 2018
Instead of getting a loan, why not start by your boot straps. Check out the cottage industry rules in your area. Start making one thing and selling it on facebook or via social media. Do this as a side business / second job. Pay your bills. Save your money. Grow it slow and when you make enough stuff to justify a store front, rent a small place.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Since you have no experience with catering, may I suggest working for a catering co. for a while before you take the plunge?

The advantages of this are:
-First hand experience of catering, from soliciting sales to final clean up.

-Opportunity to see if this kind of lifestyle and its demands are agreeable with your body and mind.

-Opportunity to see what kind of catering you want to do(ie. special events, weddings, corporate, institutions, etc. Yes there are many types of catering, and successfull caterers specialize in only one or two types)

-While the pay might not be much, at least you won’t go backwards financially)

-Opportunity to work with staff, see what they are capable of, what they earn, and what they want. These are the kind of people you would be hiring if you had your own business.

-Opportunity to see the purchase of bulk supplies and ingredients, what they cost, and what to look for.

-In the future, if and when you do want a loan, experience in the industry is not only a bonus, but pretty much a must. (Banks are kinda funny about loaning money to food industries....).

So, not to put too fine an edge on this post, but you got to know what you are doing BEFORE you sign a lease, contract or agreement.

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