By now, it’s no secret that events in 2021 look different than they ever did before. You have to think of things you never have before, and catering is no exception to the new paradigms. Catering is stressful as it is, and adding new safety concerns only adds to the challenge of pulling off a successful event food service.
There’s a psychology behind creating spaces that alleviate stress for guests and staff, and the pandemic adds new wrinkles to the strategy behind effective — and safe — spaces.
From distancing to food handling, your furnishings can help relieve the stresses that go along with catering. Consider the following factors when it comes to furnishing the foodservice and dining aspects of your next event.
Make Safety a Clear Priority
Both guests and staff will have greater peace of mind knowing that safety is paramount at your event. It starts with communication — your signage, decals, and other forms of communication will help everyone at the event to understand how important safety is while they’re attending. Place handwashing and sanitizing stations throughout the venue. Better yet, place hand sanitizer on tables or include sanitizer and masks in swag bags, and frequently check stock of sanitizing supplies.
Place trash cans everywhere and use as many disposable supplies as you can, eliminating the need for bus staff and cutting down on the walking that guests have to do throughout the dining space. You may want to consider recycling bins as well. Make sure you have plenty of gloves on hand for staff in addition to other equipment like masks and face shields.
Plan Your Space Carefully — and Creatively
It’s important to consider venue size when you’re planning your event, and a good rule of thumb is 500 square feet per 10 people. Take encouragement from the fact that you can create a safe environment without sacrificing exciting design. Be sure to incorporate your safety planning into your design — when you take care that everything matches, including your signage, safety measures, and social distancing blend into the design in a pleasing way.
Make sure your signage and other communication are warm, inviting, and friendly so that it’s not a distraction. Use different types of dividers — plexiglass, stanchions, planters, and greenery — to designate spaces with variety and add style and texture to the practical applications within the venue.
Take Distancing Into Consideration
These days, people are used to being told to keep their distance everywhere they go, and the same goes for dining at an event. Space tables 10- to 12-feet apart to allow for at least six feet of space for traffic flow, especially if you’re employing servers. Consider one-way traffic flow, but make sure that all routes are clearly marked.
Distancing between guests means fewer seats per table and likely calls for more tables, which is less of a concern if you’re seating parties together. Decor can help make sparse tables look more inviting, and dividers between tables and sections can ensure more privacy as well as safety. Consider a “dinner for one” concept for corporate events, where diners sit at smaller tables by themselves.
Self-Serve Options Can Benefit Guests and Staff
In a post-pandemic world, buffets are absolutely off-limits at events of any size, while finger foods are also out of the question. You can make things easier on staff and more comfortable for guests with self-serve options. Make sure you have plenty of bars, stanchions, and dividers to accommodate your guests, and place plexiglass dividers or guards at each bar to protect both employees and attendees.
Designate specific bars for tables and groups at the event, and dedicate specific staff for those bar areas. Clearly mark lines and places to stand while distancing. Offer pre-packaged options that give you control over food and cleanliness and are easy to serve. Place sanitation stations and trash cans near all bar areas and close to each other.
Be Prepared for Contingencies
There’s nothing worse than being caught flat-footed. You’ll be the one that looks bad even if your unpreparedness is someone else’s fault. It’s important to be ready for anything — including last-minute expansions. If you’re prepared, you won’t stress out, and you’ll be a hero.
Keep more chairs and tables on hand than you think you need, and be light on your feet if the guest list grows larger at the last minute. You may want to have extra bar setups on hand as well in order to make quick changes to traffic flow.
One of the best things you can do is partner with someone who makes setup easy, and the best partner to have on your side is CORT Events. Think of CORT Events as your one-stop source for everything you need to make sure your event looks great, maintains safety, and minimizes stress.
From creative inspiration to full-service installation and assembly, CORT Events will make sure you have everything at your fingertips to ensure that you have the furnishings you need to alleviate the stress of catering and other aspects of your event. Give us a call or visit CORT Events online so we can help you plan your next event.
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