The 2024 Workplace: Elevating Experiences with Local Food

Complete with the latest 2024 employee survey data and trends, this guide is designed to help you transform your workplace into one that resonates with the expectations and values of today’s modern workforce.

As an admin—whether an administrative assistant, a human resources rep, or a startup executive—you’ve probably been tasked with ordering food for your company.

If you’re like many people, you have no idea what to do next.

We’ve put together this ultimate guide to corporate catering to help you out. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll understand what corporate catering is, how it works, where to find it, and how to order it. In short, everything you need to get food for your company.

We’ll start with the basics.

What Is Corporate Catering?

Corporate catering is the business of providing food for employees of a company. This might be on a daily basis or for a one-time event, like a long meeting or training. Some companies specialize in corporate catering, while others are restaurants that offer catering services.

The process is simple in concept: you choose a caterer, tell them what you want and when you want it, and they’ll deliver (though sometimes you can save a bit of money and pick up your food instead).

Of course, it’s not always that simple, especially if you’re ordering an office lunch for a large group. Some caterers require that you order a specific amount of time in advance or have corporate catering menus that differ from their regular menus. That often includes large dishes for you to share or buffet stations that let employees eat whatever they want.

But just because your options might be slightly limited compared to the standard menu at a catering restaurant doesn’t mean you don’t have many choices. Tons of restaurants cater for companies, and you can select from a wide variety in your town. Just take a look at the Best of Fooda Boston 2019 list—our favorites include Vietnamese, Mexican, Texas-style barbecue, and Mediterranean cuisine.

Daily vs. One-Off Corporate Catering

Some companies cater lunch every day. Others use corporate catering companies for special events like all-day meetings or hosting clients.

You’ll often find daily catering at hip Silicon Valley companies and startups that want to provide a great perk for their employees. Providing a free (or subsidized) lunch every day is a big plus and employees really appreciate it. The task of ordering food usually falls to an administrative assistant or possibly an HR person.

These same people are usually tasked with ordering one-off catering, too. While there’s no right or wrong time to cater a meal for your employees, it’s especially welcome on long days of meetings. Even more so if employees aren’t going to get much of a lunch break.

Types of Corporate Catering

Different caterers provide different options, but there are some patterns that you’ll see. Here are five common types of corporate catering:

  • Individual orders: Each employee submits an order, often through an admin, to the restaurant. Everyone gets their own meal. This is usually through a standard restaurant delivery service or a food delivery app instead of a dedicated corporate catering program.
  • Platters: You can find platters of just about anything. A platter might include 20 sandwiches of three types that you choose, a variety of sides, or a handful of desserts. These usually give you some choice and let you provide variety at a reasonable price.
  • Buffet-style: A restaurant brings large trays of food and people choose the options they want, just like at a buffet. This is often best for large groups where individual orders or platters would be too expensive.
  • Food truck: Some food trucks let you book the entire truck for a specific period of time. You usually need a lot of people to make this worth it, as just reserving the truck costs a few hundred dollars.
  • Popup restaurant: Two or three employees from the restaurant come to your workplace and take orders from your employees. It’s just like being at the restaurant, except no one has to leave your office.

Why Should I Hire a Corporate Caterer?

There are several reasons to hire a caterer, ranging from the very high-level (it’s good for employee engagement) to the very practical (your employees need to eat). We’ll start with a benefit you may not have considered:

Corporate Catering Is Great for Company Culture

In the past couple decades, more companies have begun to realize the importance of an employee-centric company culture. The top companies in the world place a strong emphasis on supporting their employees, meeting employees’ needs, and fostering community.

There may be no better way to do that than by providing food for your employees. Eating together is a big part of the human experience, and it’s been an important part of building a community for centuries.

On a more practical level, eating lunch together gets people talking. Not only does this help people get to know each other and build stronger bonds, but it also gives you a bit of the “serendipity” effect of an open office (without the associated drop in productivity). People are freer with their ideas when they’re not in a conference room and anyone might overhear a conversation that sparks their creativity.

Don’t believe that culture really drives better performance? Consider these statistics:

  • Companies with the highest employee engagement are 22% more profitable than other companies.
  • 67% of employees are happier when they have food at work.
  • 86% of entrepreneurs believe that a good culture helps their productivity.

Investing in your employees—even by providing lunch a few times a week—will reap big returns. It’s an easy, simple way to boost engagement and develop a strong company culture.

Improved Recruiting and Retention

In an age when benefits are getting cut left and right, even a small perk like a daily lunch can make a big difference to potential employees. If you were given the chance to work at two companies with similar salaries and benefits, but one offered free lunch once or twice a week, which would you choose?

The same is true of employee retention. When people feel valued, they’re less likely to leave a company. And feeding your employees is a great way to show them that you appreciate and care about them. It’s a nice perk that won’t put a huge dent in your bottom line.

It might not seem like much, but a daily office lunch can make a big difference. And, of course, a great company culture helps with recruiting and retention, too.

It Saves Time

Believe it or not, corporate catering can save you a lot of time and increase productivity. Employees aren’t leaving to find their own lunch. They stay in the office to eat and interact with their colleagues, and they might even have some useful conversations over lunch.

This is especially true if you’re having meetings or trainings. Instead of breaking for an hour so everyone can go grab lunch, you can break for 30 minutes and continue on while people are finishing up.

Employees Really Appreciate Great Food

Whether you’re an administrative assistant, an HR rep, or the founder of a startup, the employees that get to eat because you ordered corporate catering will really appreciate it.

Catering lunch every day is a big benefit. But occasional meals are still a big deal, too. Especially if you’re brightening up a dreary day, making a day-long meeting a bit more exciting, or making it easier to get through a long training.

smiling woman holding frosted donut

And when you take the time to order something especially delicious or healthy, people appreciate it even more. Which is why we partner with the best local restaurants to deliver only the best food to your workplace. A variety of fresh, local, authentic meals will blow your employees away.

Seriously, it makes a big difference.

Who Provides Corporate Catering?

“Okay,” you might be saying, “that sounds great. But how do I find corporate catering near me?”

Fortunately, many restaurants provide catering services. Running a quick search online is one way to find them. You’ll find Italian catering, Mexican delivery, American barbecue buffets, food trucks, event caterers, and just about every other type of catering you can think of.

But you can also rely on another service to do it for you. Ordering through Fooda, for example, shows you catering menus from nearby restaurants, and you can quickly place your order with any one of them. Our corporate catering concierges (that’s what we call our account managers) will make sure everything is taken care of.

fooda caterig menu for emerald city catering

If you partner with us, we can take care of all your catering needs. We’ll learn if one of your employees doesn’t like mushrooms, if anyone can’t eat gluten, and who doesn’t like Chinese food. It makes your life a whole lot easier.

How Do I Order Corporate Catering?

Fortunately, actually placing the catering order is usually one of the easiest parts of the whole process.

Once you’ve found the restaurant or food service company you want to use, it’s usually just a matter of calling them up and telling them what you need and when you need it.

It’s a good idea to call as early as possible, especially if you’re ordering for a large group. Some restaurants require a certain amount of time (often four hours or so) before delivering a large catering order.

When you order, be sure you know exactly what you’re getting. Does the restaurant provide plates and flatware? What about napkins? Will they set up the trays of food, or do they just drop them off? The answers to these questions will vary by caterer, so it’s good to get in the habit of asking.

Then pay with your company card, set up the delivery, and enjoy!

Of course, you can always have us do it for you, too. That’ll save you a lot of time.

How Much Does Corporate Catering Cost?

This is a common question. But it’s hard to give a general answer. In short, corporate catering can cost just about whatever you want. A quick look at corporate catering menus will show you that you can get a sandwich for $7 or a giant tray of barbecue that will feed 20 people for $200.

The corporate caterers near you set their own prices and offer a wide variety of serving sizes and formats.

The number of employees you’re feeding makes a big difference, too. With a large group, you might be able to order buffet service that brings the cost per person down, though the total cost will still be higher than smaller orders.

When people ask us about how much it costs for us to handle catering for their company, we usually tell them that it starts around $8 per person.

Again, you have a lot of options. Check out the corporate catering menus near you to see some local caterers and their prices. You’ll find places that cater cheap and more high-end options.

How Fooda Makes Your Life Easier

As you can see, there’s a lot to corporate catering. You have to make a lot of administrative decisions:

  • Will you take individual orders or order for the group?
  • Does anyone have dietary restrictions that you need to be aware of?
  • Where will you order from?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Should you email or call to place the order?

Making those decisions takes time. When you partner with us, we take most of those decisions off your plate. We can even decide where to order from if you’d like. We have relationships with corporate caterers all over the country, and we can help make the most of your catering budget—without the hassles of doing it yourself. We can even arrange a popup restaurant in your office!

Get in touch if you have further questions about how we can help you feed your employees (and save you time and money in the process).