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Food and Cakes

How many servers?

I am having a wedding of 150-175 people.  It is in a barn reception hall where we bring everything in except the tables and chairs.  It will be casual in nature despite the number of guests, and I'm looking into having it catered by a large company that does BBQ as an option.  My MOH used them for a 50 person birthday party and recommended them. 

Menu is (so far): brisket, grilled chicken, corn on the cob, rolls, romaine salad, macaroni and cheese, and beans.  They also provide all the (plastic) dishware, utensils, napkins and cups, and iced tea and lemonade.  

We will also have beer (kegs), wine, water, and probably some sodas and some gluten free beers in bottles.   We haven't determined dessert yet, either will be cake/cupcakes, or a dessert bar.  This company may be helping with that as well, but I haven't gotten that far. 

So my questions is, how many servers?  The company suggested 2 "captains" whatever that is, I think that's the people who man the grill outside, 1 kitchen assistant, and 3 servers/bussers.  Does this seem accurate or excessive?  Do I need to add in a bartender too?  Based on the company's suggestions, the staff will cost about $1300.  

Also, they are charging me an "admin fee" of $713.50.  Is an admin fee standard with caterers?  

Thanks in advance!
Married 9.12.15
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Re: How many servers?

  • amelishaamelisha Canadian Texas member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    If you're serving alcohol, you should definitely have a bartender, both to make sure your guests get what they want quickly and efficiently and because a professional bartender will make sure alcohol is served responsibly (no overserving, underage service, etc.)

    Is this for a buffet or for plated meals? If it's a buffet and the servers are mainly refilling waters and bussing (especially with disposables plates etc.) that should be sufficient, although I definitely wouldn't call it excessive.

    Your caterer does large events all the time, presumably, and they are going to know best how many staff they need. They aren't going to intentionally overestimate because who would choose them if they're way more expensive than the competition? Not going to happen. 

    I've never seen an admin fee, and I book a lot of catering for corporate events. However, in that amount with that many staff, it sounds like it might be all or partially gratuity for the service staff. Is there gratuity as well? 

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  • Thank you amelisha!  Very good point about the bartender.  There won't be too many under 21s (unless they're well under 21, like elementary school age), but still a very excellent point, would hate for something bad to happen, and it would probably be nice to have someone there to uncork wine bottles, change the taps, make sure the drink tubs are filled etc.  

    It's a buffet so I'm guessing the servers would mainly be for helping to clear plates and refill waters like you said.  I will probably be doing a champagne toast so I'm assuming the servers could help get that set up too. 

    The contract specifically says it's not a gratuity, it's for things like insurance etc.  You'd think they would just build that into their cost per head though, right?  The rate for the servers is like $27-28 an hour, which I know they don't directly get, so I'm assuming I'd be tipping them separately.  
    Married 9.12.15
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  • amelishaamelisha Canadian Texas member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    Hmm. If I were you, I would just ask for a breakdown of what's included in that fee if you're concerned. The rate still seems reasonable all in all and if it includes mandatory insurance etc., then it certainly makes sense, but if you're curious about it I'm sure they can tell you what it's comprised of.



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