15 Strategies to Speed up Food and Beverage Service

Food and Beverage Servcie

With the trend towards shorter meetings, event planners all over the world find that it is essential to speed up food and beverage service. While pre-pouring water and pre-setting salad may seem like ideal solutions, food and beverage professionals have concerns about food sitting and being exposed to sneezing and coughing:

All you need is just 1 fly! With pre-poured water goblets, and such, you could have a sustainability issue and the concept that you waste less if you serve only when requested.
Christina Huie Lesyk, Adjunct Instructor, SUNY Canton

Some high end restaurants use carts but other venues and caterers feel that they are unprofessional.

So, I threw out the question to a group of catering and banquet professionals.

What are some other strategies for speeding up food and beverage service?

Julie Teran, Mintahoe Catering & Events, Krystyn Schilling, Banquet Server, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Gala Vaught, Director of Sales, Craneway Pavilion, Carrie Contreras, Director of Catering, Angeles National Golf Club, and Lea Cerdido, Founder & VP of Operations, Corevents, Inc. weighed in. Here is what they had to say:


  1. Simplify the menu choices after consulting with the venue to determine what menu items can be served quickly. For example, it will always take guests longer to eat soup than salad.
  2. Double the server to guest ratio.
  3. Pre-set appetizers or salads consisting of hearty, organic greens that won't wilt no more than 10 minutes before service begins.
  4. Pre-set desserts.
  5. Serve the salad, appetizer and main on one large platter with smaller dishes for the salad and appetizer placed on it. Alternatively, try a bento box or plate with compatments.
  6. Family style service works for some events and it is definitely faster.
  7. Don't offer a choice of entrées (avoid beef and pork) or opt for a duo.
  8. Set carafes or jugs on the table for water, juice, coffee, and tea.
  9. Plate the starter, serve the main from buffet tables, plate the dessert.
  10. Have more than one buffet table.
  11. Use double sided buffet tables.
  12. At the start of service, place the condiments and side sauces on each guest table, rather than the buffet.
  13. Ask guests to line up for the buffet first instead of taking their seats.
  14. For buffets, opt for pre-made salads and composed, pre-plated salads instead of "build your own" options.
  15. Reduce the number of options at a buffet.

"I can't tell you how many times I've seen the line come to a halt as someone weighs their options or even backs up!"
Monica Shome, Director of Meetings, The Center for American and International Law

The next time there is a need to speed up service, rather than coming up with options that may or may not be be a good fit, let the caterer now your start and hard stop time. As you can see from this list, they are likely to have a range of strategies to achieve your objective.

Here are more tips for smooth food and beverage service: 5 Ways to Limit Service Disruptions During Your Gala and  Food for Thought: To Speed Up Meal Service.

Photo Credits: Marketing_Deluxe

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