“Can I bring my own caterer?”
As I receive inquiries from couples, I am often asked the same question. “Can I bring my own caterer?” I contacted Robert, our catering manager, to learn more about the different options available when it comes to pairing a venue with a caterer.
BYOC (bring your own caterer)
Some venues allow you to hire the caterer of your choice. This is a desirable option for couples with specific ethnic, religious, or personal needs. Perhaps they require a kosher meal, authentic Indian food, or they are vegan. Maybe they have a favorite caterer, relative, or friend who will cut them a great deal or who already knows exactly what they like. Sometimes, a caterer may be found who has less experience and will do the job at a discount, helping out couples hoping to find a less expensive option. Venues allowing any caterer, often ones they don’t know, to work at their site are either typically on the lower end of venues, or they are inexperienced. They welcome any caterer, reputable or not, to set up shop for the day. This is the hard way for an inexperienced venue to gain experience quickly. Couples may bring wonderful caterers to the venue, but they also may bring terrible caterers with poor food, sloppy service, and who leave the venue a mess.
Using a List
Nicer venues tend to have an exclusive or very limited list of caterers for hire. This gives their couples more flexibility. The venues still have to monitor the different caterers to make sure they know who, if anyone, is breaking the rules. But, at least these caterers know the rules. The advantage is that the venue has screened the caterers for you. It is also a good option for a busy venue that books many events year round.
Choosing to Use an Exclusive Caterer
For us, having an exclusive caterer was an easy decision made years ago. It gives us the confidence to know exactly what is going on. In the beginning, knowing we would someday be executing 60 weddings in 6.5 months each year gave my parents the motivation to find a caterer who was like-minded. When you are sharing clients with another company for every event, it quickly becomes a partnership. In Command Performance Catering, we found a company that was willing to do what it took to give our clients a wonderful experience, from the food to the service. One thing I love is that they are always excited to try new things. When I came on the scene four years ago, I quickly noticed they liked to say “yes” when couples would make unusual requests. At the same time, if the idea was sure to fail, they were quick to find either an alternative option, or help the couple understand not every idea is a winner. Not only is this a valuable trait to have in an industry constantly pushed and pulled by trends, it is just plain nice!
Being a venue that operates under a Conditional Use Permit through Ventura County means we have a seemingly endless list of rules and conditions of operation. We needed to be sure we had a caterer who was ready, willing, and able to take into consideration the rules set in place by Ventura County. Our existence depends on it. We can’t afford to make mistakes, and we needed to partner with a caterer who had the same goal in mind. Having a Conditional Use Permit isn’t an easy, or even practical way to operate a business, but the rewards certainly make it worth the extra effort.
Finally, when your venue is located on the same property you live at, you want it well cared for. This is home. When a caterer becomes exclusive, over time it becomes their home too. We are told by the employees of CPC they refer to our venue as “catering heaven”. Being familiar with the site, we took their ideas for site upgrades into consideration. The years have given us time to become good friends, highly organized partners, and the opportunity to share in the pleasure of creating repeatedly successful weddings and events. It works for us, and our couples. In fact, our couples often tell us how grateful they are that they didn’t have to search out a fantastic caterer because we took care of that for them.