Catering: An additional revenue stream for fried chicken restaurants

During big life events — like graduations, birthday parties, weddings and funerals — food is what brings us together. And what staple are you most likely to see at these emotional events? Fried chicken.

Fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food. It’s a constant in a changing world. Whether it’s a homemade recipe or even a chain restaurant, just about everyone has their own favorite go-to fried chicken.

Fried chicken restaurants have a unique opportunity to participate in customers’ lives, from big events to small. Here’s how.

Catering as an additional revenue stream

Traditionally seen as a separate enterprise from restaurants, catering is often left to catering-specific companies or supermarkets. Yet restaurants are missing out on a significant revenue stream that could help mitigate some of the uncertainty that the restaurant industry faces.

Another benefit is that it serves as marketing for your product, introducing your signature flavor to new audiences that may not be familiar with your restaurant.

Because your restaurant is already well-equipped to prepare food in bulk, offering catering services requires only slight adjustments to your already established workflow.

Check out our tips below before you get started.

Tip #1: Prepping for catering

When you offer catering, you may encounter some of the same unpredictability you’re accustomed to seeing in the restaurant industry. While some customers may order their catering orders ahead of time, others won’t.

Although it could be tempting to enforce a strict one-week-in-advance notice for catering orders, note that you’d be eliminating buyers who aren’t great at planning ahead and also those who encounter unplanned events, such as funerals. Because of these circumstances, you’ll likely need to prepare bulk orders quickly.

To meet catering demands, you’ll need two key ingredients: a strong preparation process and the right equipment.

Preparation process

You already know that when it comes to your kitchen, a thorough process plan is the key to efficiency and making a profit. A strong process should help you maximize your ingredients, employee time and equipment.

A catering process is no different.

Consider how catering will fit into your current workflow. What steps will need to be taken? Who will be taking those steps, and what training is required?

Think through every step of the process and then be flexible. Know that the right process may take a little bit of time and tweaking to get just right. And remember your process likely won’t look the same as another kitchen’s.

(Find more kitchen workflow tips in this article.)

Preparation equipment

Your equipment is vital to managing the unpredictability of preparing catering orders in quick order. You’ll need food prep equipment that allows you to be more agile. Fortunately, that’s something we know about.

We have a full line of food prep equipment perfect for fried chicken restaurants that includes the following:

  • BBS
    Our signature breader blender sifter allows you to blend and sift up to 30 pounds of breading in less than one minute, saving you time, ingredients and labor. The BBS is almost completely customizable, with multiple size options and add-ons.
  • DrumRoll
    The DrumRoll automated breader helps you complete your chicken breading process 25% faster than hand breading, extending the life of your oil and breading by eliminating overcoating. With the DrumRoll, the breading step of your prep process is significantly shortened.
  • Marinators
    Another tool for helping maximize your ingredients, our marinators help you add flavor to your fried chicken without the extra work of an overnight soak. Whether you need a vacuum or tumble marinator, this piece of equipment can be a boon to prepping bulk orders.
  • Mixstir
    If you use a liquid to coat your fried chicken, you might have noticed that the ingredients can separate over time. The Mixstir is a blender/stirrer combo that keeps your liquid batter or oil from separating while also not injecting too much air into the mixture.
  • Prep tables and carts
    While prep tables and carts aren’t as fun and flashy as some of our other equipment, they’re still a necessity, and we allow you to customize these as you need.
  • Cold storage
    From protein rails to ice bath carts, our cold protein storage is vital for keeping chicken cold during your prep process — but at a much lower price point than refrigeration.

Whether you use AyrKing food prep equipment or others, know that the right equipment matters and can help set you up for success as you implement catering as an additional revenue stream.

Tip #2: Transporting catering

If you’re not a caterer, you might not know some of the strategies to ensure product quality during transport.

The most important rule to ensure your fried chicken arrives safely, tastes great and well represents your restaurant at an event is to prevent moisture from accumulating. Moisture is the enemy of fried chicken and will transform your perfectly fried, crispy breading to a slimy, mushy mess.

Three tips for helping prevent moisture accumulation:

  1. Choose the right food container
    Styrofoam is not a friend of the environment or of fried chicken restaurants. Paper is a better alternative (think of the paper boxes rotisserie chickens are sold in at your local supermarket) to soak up moisture. Choose wisely.
  2. Use paper towels
    Sure, you might have a pretty presentation in mind for bulk orders, but at the end of the day, paper towels get the job done and attract any excess moisture that could be detrimental to keeping fried chicken crispy.
  3. Don’t wrap food too tightly
    Enclosing warm food in any container too tightly will inevitably cause a buildup of moisture as it cools. While you’ll want to find a way to secure the chicken from shifting around too much during transport, tightly packing it in is not the answer.

Tip #3: Marketing your catering service

If you don’t let your customers know you offer catering, they aren’t likely to request it. That’s why marketing your new service is a must for success.

Consider what marketing tactics work best for your restaurant. This could look like:

  • Flyers/handouts
  • Signage at the counter or drive-thru window
  • Social media announcements about the service
  • Social media posts highlighting catering options
  • Menu additions
  • Website updates

However you choose to advertise your new offering, you should be strategic about timing. Holidays often have gatherings with friends or family and would be the perfect time to promote your catering services. During the summer, many folks are attending picnics or family reunions — prime fried chicken events.

Finally, don’t consider your catering marketing a one-and-done event. Reminders are important so that your catering service comes to mind during unexpected or quickly planned events as well.

Start catering

With just a few tweaks to your current process and equipment, your restaurant can reap the benefits of an additional service offering and enjoy the additional revenue. Catering also makes your customers’ lives easier and allows you to be present during some of the most important moments of their lives.

Want to discuss how to setup your fried chicken restaurant for catering? We’re happy to offer suggestions. Contact us when you’re ready to chat.

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