1886 Café and Bakery receives many requests for breakfast catering.

Business lunches and breakfast meetings present a unique opportunity to pursue both sweet and savory to-go items such as pastry platters, sandwich trays and other snacks. With this category, it is important to consider a number of variables such as convenience, quality, and portability. Whether the customer is the owner of a company or an employee bringing snack items to the next big meeting, these customers are looking for options that are simple to prepare and serve colleagues.

“Breakfast meetings are huge. People are always looking for something unique and fresh. I think those are two of the big standpoints of what we do here at 1886,” says Laura Pettitt, director of public relations at 1886 Café and Bakery. “We get those orders and small catering orders on a daily basis, ranging from a small delivery to picking up lunch sandwiches, or a custom cake. So it really runs the gamut.” Some of 1886’s most popular breakfast to-go items include fresh baked butter and chocolate croissants, scones, muffins, danishes, and loaves of bread.

“Usually people pick up the platters to-go. We do lunch boxes, sandwich platters, pastry platters” says Jean-Jacques Grossi, bakery manager and pastry chef at Gourmandise the Bakery in Salt Lake City, UT. “We have a deluxe combo, which is a little bit of everything: sandwiches, pastries, and fruit platters.”

The lunchboxes Gourmandise offers can come with a variety of sandwiches and sides.

For the breakfast options, Gourmandise mostly offers the breakfast and chocolate croissant, danishes, muffins and pecan rolls. While the to-go breakfast items at Gourmandise are predominantly sweets, savory items like mini-sandwiches have also proven to be tremendously popular. The deluxe combo at Gourmandise does a great job at offering both sweet and savory products, meeting a large majority of preferences in an office setting.

“We do a lot of mini-pastry platters. They like the assortment. They like the regular-sized pastries, but most of the time they opt for the minis, so they can have a taste of different things,” Grossi says. “Usually, we do full sandwiches and cut them into thirds or fourths to be put on platters.”

Especially for the deluxe combo and group orders, Gourmandise requires that the orders are made 24-hours in advance.

In many cases, customers are looking for something that stands out and is memorable. They don’t want a product that just fills a tray, but a product that is a specialty of your bakery or café.

“Start with what you do best, and build on your restaurant items,” says Richard Chenoweth, owner and general manager of Scranton’s Restaurant and Catering in Pascagoula, MS, to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). “Many customers will come to you for catering because they want that certain dish you serve.”

Whether or not it’s catering or to-go items, customers that are bringing snack items, breakfast foods, or lunches into the office for a special meeting or event are looking for something that stands out from the typical platter or bulk take-out item. Whether it’s pastries, cookies, croissants, you name it, your bakery’s specialty can be tremendously valuable as a to-go item for at-work business lunches, office events, or meetings.

Catering and take-out tips

The NRA advocates developing a special catering menu that extends from your dining menu. Primarily, this menu is meant to focus on bulk offerings such as platters, trays and containers. In addition, providing various bulk sizes allows shoppers even more customization. Whether you’re offering catering or just to-go items, a bulk menu for take-out and delivery is a great way to communicate with customers that your bakery is able to accommodate events and special occasions with sweet and savory products.

The NRA also says that catered items should maintain the quality of items that you serve at your restaurant. You will want to carefully determine the packaging used to transport the product in order to maintain your bakery’s quality. Another element to consider is whether or not the food will be reheated. Odds are, simple and convenient items will work best for a business meeting. Options like pastries and savory items that maintain flavor and texture during travel and without being reheated are perfect for a quick snack to offer coworkers at the office.