Probably one of the main parts of a function that guests look forward to is meal time, so this has to be spot on! Spot on in timing on the programme order, spot on in the serving and spot on in the taste. A guest can easily forget what song the bride and groom did their first dance to or who made the first speech, but they will never forget how good (or bad) the food tasted and how long (or not) they waited before eating. So it is important to get meal time right.
There are a number of ways to serve your guests: silver service, buffet, lazy susan style etc, to name the main few. In this blog we are going to focus on feeding guest with a buffet style or lazy susan style and compare the difference. Remember, this is only our opinion, its your function and you will do whatever best suits you, and if we were to work with you we will ensure either systems work perfectly!
You have spent long and hard possibly over months of deliberating what food you should feed your guests and you have finally picked your menu. You have selected 12 tasty dishes and decided to have the food served in buffet style. You’ve chosen buffet because, first of all, you don’t want food wastage, so having your guests get up and be served at a buffet point will reduce that because as the waiters offer them the food they will only take what they want and the portion size they want.
You are also concerned about having long queues going around your venue whilst people are waiting for their food, so you need to do two things:
1) Position the buffet in area where guests can queue discreetly, maybe along the wall of the venue and not down the middle of the venue, in between guests.
2) Decide whether you will have 1 or 2 (or possibly 3) buffets points to speed up the process. We would advise the number of buffet point should be based on the number of guests:
1 – 150 guests – 1 point
150 – 350 guests – 2 points
350+ guests – 3 points
Once the right number of buffet points are used and are located in the right place in the venue, this should be a smooth serving process for guests.
Lazy Susan Style
You have decided to have your guests to serve themselves at their seats/table so that there isn’t the stress of queuing, this will be done by Lazy Susan. The Lazy Susan is a revolving stand placed in the centre of the table with a number of holes for bowls of food and bottles of drink. Waiters will bring the food out in bowls and place them in the revolving stand and guests will happily serve themselves without the need of getting up.
How do you chose which one to use?
Both styles have their advantages and disadvantages, so dependant on the size of your function you could pick either, let me explain:
Buffet always seems like the easier option because can get up and select their own food, but on the other hand, if you do not have the right number of points to feed your guests or the points are not stationed in the right place in the venue, it can potential be manic. As mentioned above, have the right number of points for your guests and make sure the buffet is situated in an area of the hall that is easy for guests to queue up for their meal, so you don’t want the queue of guests going down the middle of the hall, ideally you want guests to queue along the wall of the hall away from the centre of the hall where the main event is happening.
It is always recommended that you have a team to manage the guest flow to the buffet because if too many guests/tables get up at the same time, it will cause a long queue and what is the point in your guests standing to queue when then can sit and wait. So I advice so more that 3 tables up at a time to queue. The next challenge is ensuring guests select their food as quickly as possibly and move on, of course guests will be intrigued by what food is available and may ask the servers questions which will take up time, so what should you do? Ask your caterer to label all food at the front and any foods that are specific e.g. with nuts or vegetarian should be highlighted. Doing this should speed up the serving process and guests to be seated quickly.
Choosing Lazy Susan?
If you want convenience for guests, less hassle for them to get up, then Lazy Susan is your choice, as described above, food is served at the table on a revolving stand. There are two important factors to this…
Size of function If your event is over 300 people you may just consider this option because 300+ people is a lot of people to feed in about 45mins to an hour, so having the lazy susan will reduce congestion and allow the space in the venue to be used for guests sitting, dance floor etc.
Time food is served So you are serving at the tables, but that means the food needs to be prepared into the bowls prior to this, which then means food has the risk of getting cold quickly because they are prepared in are simply glass bowls with no heat insulation. The speed at which they come out onto the tables are important because noone like to eat cold food! You would require to have a good number of servers to achieve this so that tables are filled with their bowls quickly, and it would not be fair or right is some tables have their food whilst others are still waiting 20 minutes later. This is a combination effort from the caterer in the kitchen and the efficiency of the servers,
Obviously if your function is a lot smaller, say 100 – 150 guests the challenge wont be as much – quicker to fill up all tables and everyone eats in time!\
As always…the choice is yours, we are just here to give you advice, but no matter what you chose…we can always be at service to assist!