The Caterers Corner
Illegal/legal caterers discussions/rants Caterers Corner: Illegal/legal caterers discussions/rants
By Mikesul Mikesul on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 10:09 am: Edit

(Moved from Pre Cooked Meats)

I support CaterGreat and his efforts. I too run a legal restaurant/catering business, yet I find myself today getting ready to write a letter to some of our local facilities that are allowing illegal caterers into their places and putting themselves at great risk. Add to that fact that some of these caterers are even serving alcohol - now we're not just fighting illegal caterers - we may be saving lives. Have these people been trained in the TIPS program or any other dealing with proper service of alcohol??? Are they paying HUGE insurance rates and license fees necessary to be legal. (By the way, what have YOUR insurance rates jumped this year??? 15%...25% perhaps?

Yesterday, my local Chamber of Commerce called me regarding this same issue. It is important.

Yes, I agree that I don't want to see CaterGreat ask the question to everyone who posts here, but he does have a 1st Ammendment right, doesn't he? He is protecting his livelihood, his family, and maybe even a retirement plan if he is lucky enough to make one in this business. It is difficult to watch others who earn pensions, 401k's, etc., come into our business after they "retire" from job 1 and make a little on the side when it affects those of us trying to make a living. You don't become a stock broker, doctor or attorney "on the side." They have laws and licenses and so do we. Its just that it is very easy to do catering illegally.

Its kinda like TV isn't it, if you don't like it, I guess you just turn the channel. No reason to get pissed about it, just watch something else. If you don't like it here, I would guess that chances are you aren't legal. Sucks to be you.


By Chefmanny Chefmanny on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 10:10 am: Edit

How much does illegal caterers affect legitimate operators?
Let's say it's the weekend, you have 5-6 functions Friday night (all off premises), 8-10 Saturday, 3-5 on Sunday. Along comes Joe Blow and says he needs food for 4 for Saturday at 1:00PM on a boat at a marina 12 miles from your shop and BTW he wants a chef for 4 hours also. Are you going to provide that for him in the midst of everything else you have going on? If you are big enough and staffed enough maybe. Chances are you will turn it down and this is where the less then legal operator comes in. I don't think illegal operators have enough to compete with legitimate operations, if you are established you may have to charge more for overhead but, the illegal will have to rent everything and it all washes out in the end. If facilities are letting in illegal caterers there has to be a reason, find out why. You know the old saying one hand washes.........I don't endorse or promote illegal operations but, it's inevitable and hard to stop. Let's say someone shows up from whatever agency and they bust someone, all they have to say is, Hey I am doing this for my friends and/or family; certainly the guest is not going to turn them in and risk loosing their $$$ and the party.
I just think that efforts are better expanded in your operation, let the powers that be hunt these illegal operators, that is why we pay taxes. Goverment agencies have this duty.
Yes, everyone has the right to express their opinions but on the proper soap box, every inquiry should not be predicated on the status of the person asking the question. I am a teacher, should I ask every student if they are stupid before registering in my class; because stupid people should really not get in this business.
Oooooooops.....too late!!! Sorry

By Panini on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 10:13 am: Edit

Your's is the post on the meats? Why? I think maybe there should be a forum titled business owners. Those who have never worked for themselves sometimes don't realize the value of a dollar. I've run across many in the field who think that the food just appears in the storeroom or go after dirty grease with a clean sidetowel.
I side with catergreat on this issue. If one needs a hobby or something to do on the side, start performing sugeries, it pays a lot better.

By Fodigger on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 10:14 am: Edit

I also agree w/ catergreat. And while I wouldn't do the party of 4 it's the larger scale events that I miss out on that have a direct effect on my pocketbook. We all have the horror stories of the last minute call because the illegal flaked out or finally got caught and we are left to pick up the pieces. Nobody wants to see a bride cry on their wedding day. If I loss a job to another caterer I want to know that the customer was comparing apples to apples with the same kind of expences as I have. I work long and haed to provide for my family and I shouldn't have to worry about some hobbiest taking money away from me.

By Chef Manny on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 12:20 pm: Edit

I agree w/ catergreat also, I just disagree that everyone who asks a question here should get the third degree.
Will you guys please tell me what state you guys are in, I'm in FL. and illegal caterers here do not seem to have that big an impact on business. Since this topic started I have called at least 7-8 friends that own catering businesses here and they talked to me like, "what the hell are you talking about?" I guess since there is so much competition here the illegal caterers do not have that big an impact.
I don't believe a hobbyist can produce large scale parties, at that point it is more than a hobby in my opinion. (BTW Martha Stewart started as a hobbyist) I would not mind having her bank acct.
Since someone conceded they would not do the party of 4, where are they to go? It's not their problem that you are busy, they are having a party with or without your services.
What is the difference if I compare apples to oranges? It's my $$$ I will pick whatever I want, I am the one eating them. If oranges are cheaper today, I'll eat oranges today!!!
BTW doing surgery sucks, my wife is a Dr. and HMOs are screwing Drs and patients alike everyday.

By Chefmanny on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 10:16 am: Edit

Here is another dilema for you guys.
I teach at a Culinary school, we do catering functions sometimes. We can charge less than any caterer around because we have free labor, (students) taxpayers pay for our overhead, (school kitchen). We are totally legal! We use the funds we make to buy supplies we need that the school system does not have supply $$$ for.
Businesses in our community support us by hiring students, helping out with advisory committees...etc. (Businesses like yours)
Do those business people have a right to complain about us taking away some of "their"
I am curious as to the responses I'm going to get.
I will tell you what happened in our school district as a result of this after I get some responses with your opinions!!!

By Mikesul (Mikesul) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 12:20 pm: Edit

First to Paninni - I'm in NY - not that it matters as illegals are everywhere. (NOT NYC btw) Keep in mind that large customers also handle small parties. Maybe that group of four is that BIG client you've always wanted. Maybe you DO take the time out to handle it to get your foot in the door that you've been trying to open for over two years. (4 is not a good example - but 12-20 might be more realistic) Now that customer has gone to an illegal who has their foot in the door and might tell that customer that he/she can handle the big party for $6 per head. Not only that, when we give the quote to Mr. Big for this big party, don't you think he'll be thinking in his head "why is this so much when Mrs. ABC did my small party last week for only for so little?" A hamburger is a hamburger. Everyone cooks, everyone goes to the store, everyone thinks they can be a caterer. They also know that they only pay 1.95 in the store for chicken and why should we be charging $10.

Paninni, you are wrong on this issue. The minute you lose a decent size catering to someone like this, you'll be right on here ranting and raving like the rest of us.

As for the Culinary School Dilemna - I have also dealt with this item as we have a cooking school near us as well. I have not fought them for a couple of reasons. First, these students are gaining experience and I don't have to pay them. I would rather hire a student who has had some experience and not have to invest the $ for more training. THe school in our area does not do that much catering that in affects our business to much of a degree and I'll be hiring some of them next year anyway.

Sometimes I don't like losing the gig, but I look at the big picture on this one.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:08 pm: Edit

Hi Mike,
You've got me mixed up with someone else. I'm on board with this issue.
Chef Manny, I'm in texas and I am surrounded by Suzy Homakers who do a large amount of catering out of their home. Most of them get a tax #. Book a party where they have an oven, go to SAM's, heat up premade food and serve.
Our Health Department is very strict with those who get permits, but do nothing about those who do not. They don't even respond to calls. They will tell you we have to physically catch them transporting food.
I'm in the bakery business and don't do a lot of catering but I do lose a lot of cake business to the same people who do cakes out of their home.
My biggest complaint is that there are so many of these types that the customer settles for a metiocre product, not knowing there is better.
I have no problem with schools. We have El Centro college here and they do lunch for little money, and things like that. But, they are serving a good product that educates the costomer.
70 persent of the local caterers here use desserts from the grocery store or from the wholesale warehouse.
Anyway, I don't lose sleep over it and I don't start all conversation with it, it is not referenced on our website, but it is a problem.
Have a good one,

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:10 pm: Edit

Mike, how is 4 not a good example; 4 is the perfect example. Remember they might be Mr. Big next week. You cannot worry about all the parties that you lose, besides how would you know? When I had a catering business, I had no idea who people went to if they jolted me, sometimes I would if I was 2nd or 3rd on the list and they and so is doing it for this much. Otherwise I never knew. I could send out 50 proposals a week and land 5 or 49 I had no time worrying where the 45 or the 1 went on any given week.
Again, I am not promoting illegal operators, I'm just saying how can you have so much time and energy to devote to this witch hunt when you are trying to survive yourself? Also explain something to me what is the difference if you lose a party to a legal operator or to an illegal, a loss is a loss even if it's to your local supermarket.
What if the party of 4, Mr. Big is enough for the illegal to become legal? That means that the illegal is now legitimate competition! Truly, is this not how many in the business got started?

By fodigger on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:13 pm: Edit

We also have a Culinary program near me(I'm in CA) and I don't mind because they are legal and I agree w/mikesul that they need to gain the experiance. They also tend to do parties that I don't want. You know the type 4 courses for $10.00 inclusive. I've got bills to pay so I need to make a profit. The problem w/ oranges Manny is that what the customer really wants is an apple that is what he thinks he's getting but he's getting an orange full of potential juicy problems and the like. What do think the % of hobbiest have gone through the servesafe program? Every day you read in the paper about a new break out of something. Something to chew on anyway

By fodigger on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:21 pm: Edit

Manny,I still wouldn't do the party of 4 given the example you gave. the reason being that I already commited to some one else. The Customer is hiring me and my company. I don't double book because I want to give my attention to that customer. I mark my menu to take this in account that way I don't need to. I've done the parties of 4 before and most are now really good customers. I just wouldn't do it given your example.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:23 pm: Edit

Jeff, I can understand your circumstance, and everything is relative to your circumstances. With Mike in NY also, I can see illegal kitchens in any rat hole in NY.
Texas, yes I can just see all the Susies you were talking about doing just that. I worked for AA down there for a while doing menus for their S. American routes. They used to want to sell us home made desserts all the time. (Big $$$)
You are pretty cool about not ranting about any negative c---; and that's how it should be on this forum, you help people out answering their questions...etc. God help you if someone goes out and bakes a cake with a saw in it and a mass murderer breaks out of death row right!
I don't think health dept. deals w/ illegals it would be department of professional regulation or something to that affect. That is what is called in FL.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 01:27 pm: Edit

fodiger, that is precisely why illegals will always be around!
Supply and demand.
If you do not do the party someone has to!!!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 06:34 pm: Edit

No No NO!! Dammit! They hire a legal or they do it themselves... what about hiring a legal personal chef??

I pay a lot of money to be legal..GO through a lot of hassle from the health dept. If they are illegal, they need their butts fined, big time!!!

The issue here is the legislation and the laws being enforced. I don't give a s*** if it is for 4 people or two.... ILLEGAL is illegal....

Chef manny, where did i give the 3rd degree to the person asking how to precook meats?? I just asked a few questions. Hell, more time was wasted on criticizing the perceptions of me....

Again, I didnt see any of you jumping in to answer the question...

I have been on this board for over 4 years, answering the same questions.... I have given more advice than anyone here... Now I have a new set of critics...

and again, I remind you that George set this up for professionals.... I don't mind passing out advice to novices, but at the same time, this gives me the platform to push my agenda of making this a professional, respected and safe industry... I have had the wannabees email me thanking me for telling them this straight and not sugar coating this business. I will not stop, unless George tells me to... :)

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 11:09 pm: Edit

Catergreat I am not trying to harp here but I don't think that will ever happen, as long there is a demand for illegal catering operations it, it will exist. Like drug dealers one gets arrested and another one takes over the territoty. They never disappear.
I also believe many times the law is not enforced simply because there is not enough pressure on them to perform.
Hopefully we are all here to help answer questions, be it the same one over and over, you
should be proud you have been doing this four years.
I am also interested in understanding what makes the individuals that go into this business and their passions, mistrusts and, excessiveness.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 11:09 pm: Edit

The "Best Legal Cheap Caterer" around here is run out of the Womens' Correctional Institution. They pretty much cut the competition off at the knees. I can't come close to their prices. So I go for my own niche market and don't waste my time in their market.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 11:20 pm: Edit

Why bring water out to the dessert, move the people to where the water is!!!

By Matt on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 01:08 am: Edit

It really is a shame that you have so much business that you can barely handle posting in here everyday, sometimes more than once a day. If I was you Catergreat, I would spend less time in here bitching about the few jobs you are losing to an illegal caterer and try actually spending sometime in your business because you sure seem to have a lot of time on your hands.
Second, do you really think your attitude in here towards others is truly going to do a damn thing to stop the illegals? If anything I would think you would piss them off and only make them want to take more business from you. If you truly want to do something about it, then go to your halls, health deptartment, etc... Complaining so much about it in public to the people who probably don't care only hurts you in the end because you come off as very bitter and definitely not someone I would want to work with.
And last but not least, this maybe titled as a proffesional forum, but the bottom line is that it's open to the public. If someone wants this to only be open to proffesionals as you say, then it should have been password protected and sign-ups should be necessary. With that said, you may want to try treating some people with a little courtesy and respect instead of jamming your views down their throats. You may find if you come across a little less bitter, you may actually find yourself booking more jobs. Because whether you want to believe this or not, the bottom line is most people don't go to the illegals based solely on price but usually because the legals have gotten so full of themselves and come across with the attitude that they are to big to deal with the little guy. People such as yourself, (from what I can tell so far)don't hit a good repoire with customers the way they used to when they were fighting to get started, taking those little jobs that today you wouldn't even touch. So you see it isn't all about how cheap it is. Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth.

By debord on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 07:42 am: Edit

A license doesn't certify good tasting food nor perfect food handling skills. The bigger the catering business the less likely those two factors will be the top priorty at the company. Once you get large you loose alot of control. Unless you can attend every function you have no idea of the mis-handling that does go on with your own people at your events! Don't be stupid to think all your people do as their told.

Under bidding is a stupid worry. If your not making a decent profit off the party who wants it! Why chase after the penny spending clients (who are pricing you against illegals) when theres' plenty of big fish out there?

If you do a great job, word of mouth spreads and business bangs on your door and pays your price.

MOST PEOPLE BUY FOOD FOR IT'S TASTE! Your either in their budget or not and who wants to cater to the cheapest events? NOT ME! When you have something of quality the buyer KNOWS that and you don't have to play pricing comparisions, they'll want you for their important stuff (expensive events), let them use someone cheap for their cheaper events (it only makes you look better in comparision).

By fodigger on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 12:25 pm: Edit

Good point Debord. That is exactly why I take Only one event at a time. And although having a sanitation certificate doesn't mean you're perfect it's a large site better than not having the knowledge to know the proper way to do things like susy homemaker or joe the bbq'er.

I think that Catergreat should get up on a soap box. If more people did there wouldn't be as many doing what they are doing. Like the gun laws of this country there are plenty to do the job they just need to be actively inforced by the health dept.. Just like all my employees must take the servesafe program and refreshers every two years so should the others. We are currently in the middle of the process to start building our second location and to date have paid over $50,000 to the county in various fees.
and Manny by the way it shouldn't matter if I do the party or not there are plenty of legal caterers out there who could. If it's a matter of money then the people should scale back the size of their parties OR change their menus. Personally I hope illegal caterers go away and the inforcing of the laws and huge punitive fines would go along way on making that a reality

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 01:05 pm: Edit

What could possibly cost 50k in fees? You must be in CA. Are you buying everything new?
I started my business w/ 30k, total for everything!
If you can afford to do 1 event at a time that's great; reality is most businesses can't afford that luxury. I would love to survive on one job a day, or even better one job a week but you still have to pay for everything the rest of the week and/or month.
Now, listen to this idea!
Let's say your kitchen is idle, since you only do one party at a time, would you lease it out to someone on a per use basis to supplement your income? Yes/No? Why? Assume they are incorporated, have a FEIN #, they have the proper licensing, they just don't have a big enough place to produce this affair at.

By fodigger on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 01:56 pm: Edit

Manny yes I am in CA. and although yes I will buy new we've yet to get our final permit to even break ground. As part of our corp. we own a building that we do lease out to other caters on a job by job basis. Having said that though ALL caterers must be approved by me. The first call I make is to the Health Dept. to make sure they are current and licensed. I work 6 or 7 days a week. And I have chosen to work only one event at a time and price my menus accordingly. While some are small 25-30 people the majority are 200+. I feel very fortunate to be in this position and never take that lightly as I know we could easily fall out of favor. I spend alot of time and money on training and education so that my employees are prepared to do the job so that my customers have the best possible experiance so they go away not only talking about the location but the food and service. I've had many guest comment to me about this food or that service being the best they ever had, it made them forget they were at a banquet.

By fodigger on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 02:00 pm: Edit

also our total expense will be over 100k before we turn even 1 shovel of dirt between eir's, traffic studys and permits.
I guess that's the price we pay for living in the golden state. Everybody thinks you're mage of

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 02:06 pm: Edit

Matt, you dont even put your email in here so you show your courage well....

As far as me having time to post... I work on the average of 14 hours per day... It is because I am successful and have a great staff that I have time to visit this and other boards... I see this as education for me and others... You worry about you and **** off!

Chefmanny, we are not going to agree. I see my efforts as educating the public so they may be leary of hiring an illegal... I don't put the illegals in the same class as drug dealers... One is criminal the other is a civil legal issue... You said it, as long as there is demand.... there will be the suzie homemakers supplying catering...

Again, they don't hurt me. They hurt my industry. That is my problem with it. People doing it the correct way are being hurt. I give them little competition compared to the home based caterers..... Most smaller companies can't handle what I do...

by the way, I have been doing this 21 years, not 4... I have been posting to this board 4 yrs...

Debord... Great point about the larger companies not having the quality... But competition and client expectations will keep them at bay.... I have a large company, but we do NOT sacrifice quality... But you are correct because most I have experienced are terrible....

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 02:28 pm: Edit

I can't leave this one unanswered... Matt, you say that me being bitchin would make illegals want to do more to take business away from me??
I don't think that anyone goes into or enhances their illegal business for spite of me.... you flatter me... the more you talk, the less creditable you appear...Let me tell you something.. the illegals fear me in my area... They pray to whomever that I don't turn them in. The last person they want to piss off is me... I have actually turned in only 2 in my career, and those were the ones who were endangering the public health... I have a list of about 25... I have not turned them in... Don't plan on doing so.

Many of you misinterpret me... I respect most of you here, especially you, Manny.... I am trying to do this without flaming and antagonizing... Most of you are respectful. Matt on the other hand is clueless.

I have gone to the halls in my area. None of them allow illegals any longer... I have written articles in the newspaper and wedding tabloids about the dangers and risks of using unlicensed caterers... I have receive many letters of thanks... intelligent people do not see this as whining, but a concern for the well being of our industry and our community...

I have had illegals thank me because they did not realize they were doing anything wrong... One works for me now making much more money with less stress than when she was on her own...

Thanks for the support and the critique...


By Matt on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Catergreat, I must say that the more you speak, the more you back up my theory. You make yourself sound like some catering God. Give me a flipping break. I totally support what you are trying to do, just not the way you go about doing it. Your choice of places and people with whom you pick your battles is what I seem to disagree with. I think it's great that you have put a stop to some of the illegal catering with your efforts with the halls, newspaper articles etc... and I commend you for that. What I find totally unnecessary is your need to abuse verbally almost everyone who posts on here. Doesn't matter what they're interested in, you first thought is to attack their credibility.
I also find it very hard to believe that these so called 25 or so illegal caterers that you have listed fear you??? If they knew that you knew about them I would think they would stop. Not only that, if you're so upset about the problem as you appear to be, then why wouldn't you be approaching them about it? Telling them to get legal or you'll turn them instead of jumping down someones throat that asks a question on here.
So as you see, I don't have a problem with your plan, just with how you choose to execute it and how it effects the people who really probably aren't the problem.
As for being clueless and uncredible, well I'm not going to sit here and call myself catergreat. I'll let the others who know me make that judgement and if that's the way you percieve me, then oh well.
P.S. I'm not afraid to post my email, just afraid of people I don't care for jamming their ideas down my throat via email.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Carl, I meant what I said, that you should be proud of posting and informing for 4 years, I know you've been doing catering a h--- of a lot longer then 4 years. (I was talking about the posting).
I'll agree to disagree, not that I don't agree with you on the issue I just see a different outcome.

Foddigger, what do you need traffic studies for?
You said something which was a point of interest to me in how you answered, let's say you lease your facility right; at that time the outside caterer is covered by your health dept. permit, because the permit is issued to the building not to the caterer. (At least in FL.), maybe it's different in CA.
My point is that you could very well be letting an illegal use your property and once they are using your premises, they are legal. (as long as they have all I mentioned on the previous post, license, FEIN # Etc.)
Let me know your opinion! Carl, how about your opinion on this also?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 04:40 pm: Edit

Foddigger that's crazy dude, 100K.
I'd stick that in the bank and move somewhere where the cost of living is reasonable and start something simpler there. With all used stuff!!!
Good luck in that venture man, keep us abreast.
Read my other post w/ questions to you about the leasing of your property. It's one or two above this one.

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Well it seems to be over. Everybody seems to agree to disagree.
Chef Manny, I don't know when you opened your business, but it takes a whole hell of a lot of money these days to open a business. In my new little retail bakery 1000sq.ft. the permits, building code updates, the health dept. code, inspections,equipment and finish out were over 100,000. You probably kn0ow the area Park Cities in Dallas.
This is the part that bothers me more than illegals. I truly feel that most people let money dictate what their guests will eat. Most of these suzy-homakers don't know a basic mother sauce. Everything is premade and full of salt and bases.
I feel the uneducated caterer whether legal or not promotes mediocrity in the field.
With respect to all,

By debord on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 09:34 pm: Edit

Hum, there are alot of crappy professional chefs out there who can't cook 1/2 as well as some suzy home makers......... regardless have your standards and stick to them. Just because someone calls you for cheap crap (going only on price) doesn't mean it's a wise business decision to accept it, that lowers you standards too. Every event you do contains many potential clients. Is cheap food what you want to be known for?

Don't waste your time playing cheap games and jumping through hoops for cheap clients.

I think if your serious about improving the industry by shutting down illegals then you have to do it the obvious way. NOT thru preaching to the clients, but by becoming active in your area to get the RIGHT authorities to shut them down. You aren't going to make the smallest dent in illegals by harping at the purchaser! Go to the source and the law and make them enforce it. Harping to the clients is like the childs game of "telephone" one gets your message.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 10:56 pm: Edit

A rule on occupations.
The people in the top 10% of their given field pick and choose their jobs. The 90% that is the rest of us fight over the leftovers.
Even though I my never get there, I'd rather strive to be in the top 10% than worry about the other 90%. If the competition is good enough, it keeps us all honest.

By fodigger on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 04:03 am: Edit

Chef Manny, on your question about traffic studies we are on the outskirts of town our county requires us do do a traffic impact report to test how our expected business will effect traffic do we need a stop light, stop sign, turn lane etc.. On our first project the county wanted us to put up a stop light but Caltrans(the governing body) said no 3 traffic studies later at 40 grand each we finally built curbs in a city 30 miles away.
On the health dept issue both are covered. the building gets a license as does the individual business. You must be licensed and have a servesafe certified person at each event.
And while there is some good used equipment out there I chose to buy new. Just a personal thing I guess. Also to me there is no place like good ole CA. despite her problems and you can't beat the weather.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 07:57 am: Edit

Panini I opened in 1986 but, I did it very slow.
I made the typical new business owner mistakes, I opened in a hight raffic, semi-ritzy strip mall. I paid what I thought was outrageous rent back then $19.00 a sq. ft. w/ CAM. I took a 1500 sq. ft. bay, it had a grease trap already, I bought a hood (8ft.) a 6 burner stove, a walk in cooler, a reach in cooler and a deli case; that was it. I made lunches to go and deliver for cash flow at first because business was not rolling in.
First year I had sales of about 650K, the next 5-6 years 2 mill. steady. The only problem is that in those six years I was off 2-3 days.
If I had to do it all over again, I would find a cheap warehouse in the questionable part of town and open a good size kitchen, maybe a small sales office somewhere in a business district.

Fodigger I know how you feel, people always ask me how can you live in FL. w/ that humidity and hurricanes?. I moved here from Jersey when I was 7, it's great here. When I go on trips around the country I'm the one saying, how can these people live here?, especially in big, dirty cities.

By Debord (Debord) on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 08:10 am: Edit

Hum...chefmanny first year 650K??????with a that little amount of equipment you'd have to have a army sized staff and a major sales force to pull that off. 650K with off premise catering, one chef, little way! Been there done that and I don't buy it.

What about a van or two, trays, portable ovens.......????????

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 12:23 pm: Edit

From Matt: "What I find totally unnecessary is your need to abuse verbally almost everyone who posts on here. Doesn't matter what they're interested in, you first thought is to attack their credibility"

Matt... how is asking a question such as "are you a legal caterer with a foodservice permit" verbal abuse??????? What u have done is verbally abuse me and I have given you back a little... but in NO way have I verbally abused a person asking a question. Get your head out of your ass and actually read what I have said.... a give ONE example of where I have verbally abused anyone (besides you :) )

As far as the 25 + illegal caterers I have on my list... They don't have a clue that I know who they are.. and like Manny said, as long as there is demand and they are getting by with it, then they will continue... I think Manny and I agree..., but where we disagree is I am ASSuming that Manny thinks nothing can be done... I think differently...

I may eventually contact these illegals personally, but contrary to your belief, I am not trying to hurt anyone... I choose to do this legally and make legislative changes that will be more permanent...

some of you are in less cooperative states than I.. it takes ppl like you and I to change that.. if you truly agree with me, then that is where your energies need to be, not ranting at me.. oh yeah, sorry about the "head out of your ass" thing...


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 12:48 pm: Edit

I got lucky and got this catering contractat a bingohall in the middle of the everglades. This place held about 5-8 thousand people every weekend. Buses came from all over the country.
We would start making sandwiches Thursday afternoons and, we'd finish Fridayafternoon, sold breakfast buffet at 7:00AM at the hall on Sat. morning, had plastic carts going around selling anything I could get on them, coffee for sure, donuts, snacks, sandwiches, you name it. At about 6:00PM we put up a dinner buffet. The thing was these people did not want to get up to do anything they were there to play bingo!
A guy tried it before me and he quit after 2 weeks, this building was like a domed stadium with only 2 concession areas at opposite ends, this guy tried to sell just from the stands, it killed him.
I went in there got a coffee co. to put in filters for water (everglades, nasty water) got coffee machines, walkie talkies for workers w/ carts; if they needed something they would call the refrigerated truck (1 at each end of building)and runners would get what they needed for them.
This was an eye opening experience for me in terms of volume, I did not have enough cash to give to all the workers. The first event i had to borrow 7k from my dad to give out banks to everybody. It was beautiful, all cash, captive audience, and we rocked. I used to take cash home in a duffel bag at the end of the job (about 11:00PM. We made about 17-24K every day we did that, granted it was only on Saturday but it was enough. We had to prep and coordinat deliveries all week. Our first two times it was a bit disorganized, we did not know what they would eat so we made comment cards, got feedback and by the third weekend had it down a science. I would rent two big refrigerated trucks and that was my working walk-in during the week, I would leave with about 20-25 staff at 3:00AM from Ft. Laud. to this hall (took 2.5 hours to get there).
That job got me all the equipment and toys I needed for the business, I made my 30K I put into the business in about 120 days.
Eventually the indians realized what a nice little chunk of $$$ it was and they decided they were going to do it but it served it's purpose for me!

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 12:50 pm: Edit

D, one day a worker played a bingo card first thing in the morning when we got there and she won 5K dollars, she was freakin' out.

By CaterGreat on Saturday, June 30, 2001 - 07:50 am: Edit

From Matt: "What I find totally unnecessary is your need to abuse verbally almost everyone who posts on here. Doesn't matter what they're interested in, you first thought is to attack their credibility."

I am still waiting for the ONE example where I have verbally abused "almost everyone who posts on here", Just show me ONE example....


By Matt on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 12:06 am: Edit

Look it, I've made my point. Obviously alot of people have agreed with me while some haven't. I don't want to argue this point to death and I am letting it go. Like you said before there are other important things. I honestly can't stand the illegals myself. After all the money we have spent to this point, the schooling for the food handlers permit, getting all the right equipment and the hassles with the city and the health department. It honestly is enough to boggle the mind, so when others find the easy way out and I do everything correctly it bothers the hell out of me. I just choose to direct my energies towards the right people and in the right manner.
You and I apparently got off on the wrong foot and I came on a bit strong too. It was nice tonight to read your newest subject and see you coming off as a human being with a cause rather than a bitter S.O.B.
I hope we can have mutually agreeable discussions in the future.

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 03:08 pm: Edit

I welcome that Matt. But since you have failed to show any example of me verbally abusing anyone on this board, you have failed to make your point.

I direct my energies to people on this board and other where professionals and wannabees gather... in addition to that, I take positive, non destructive steps to educate the public in my area and throughout the US.

I apologize for asking the question of about 3 people whether they were legal. It was from that you made your assumptions... which were incorrect, but understandable. I can drop this here to....

Thanks for the nice gesture...


By chefdrs on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 06:25 am: Edit

You would probably call me an illegal caterer. I do have a Federal tax id and pay state and federal taxes. I have an AOS degree in culinary arts and have worked in the food service industry for over 15 years. I cater from my home (mostly prep work done at home)and transport the items to private homes. I do not and will not use catering halls. My clients are the top 1%. I do not advertise and get all of my business from referrals. I have not seen a caterer yet who can produce the quality of food and service that I can. Am I taking work away from you? No you wouldn't get the job to begin with. Please note I will not do any function over 100.

By sick of this subject on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 10:12 am: Edit

If your kitchen is not licensed and inspected than you are defineatly illegal. I'm having trouble why you think you can only prepare top quality food out of your home.
Why don't you trying being in business! Get a place, pay everything the legals pay.
You can probably supply your clients with better food because you can raise your food cost with out any overhead.
IT MUST BE REAL NICE TO BE ABLE TO DISCRIMINATE AND ONLY DO PARTIES UNDER 100. It would not surprize me if a majority of those 1%'s consider you their chef, who's working for who?
Totally sick of this subject!

By CaterGreat on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 10:15 am: Edit

You are considered a Personal Chef. The only thing that may give you problems down the road would be prepping in an unlicensed kitchen. Can you not get a permit for your home kitchen in your area?

Remember, you don't have to convince me. Just the judge, in the unlikely event of someone getting sick or "thinking" they got sick from your food. If you do have insurance, read the clause about illegal activities. Yep, void.

I commend you for your talent and scope of work. I do private home parties as well, so yes, you would be taking work from me and other permitted small caterers. However, you would be a very little threat to me since I have my own hall, cater exclusively to 3 others and am on the short list at a dozen others....

Of course that is not my point. I also commend you for paying sales tax. I am sure the health dept knows about you, but they probably look the other way due to the nature of your clientel. You obviously have a wonderful reputation. Just be careful, try to get insured and as legal as you can, feasibly.

Interestingly enough, you can purchase food and transport it to the client's home, prep and cook it all there. It is legal. That is what personal chef's do.

Personally, I don't see the problem with it. But everyone is not as knowledgeable as you and there are a lot of Martha Stewart wannabees who are clueless in food handling, protection and sanitation....They are a threat to our industry and need the health department's guidance.

Best of luck.


By CaterGreat on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 10:24 am: Edit

Sick of this subject?

Then don't click on it. It is simple. Some of us are not sick of it, this is a free country and a relatively free message board.

I am personally sick of people criticizing a good discussion or even a bad discussion. Bottom line, people are posting which is better than the alternative.

I am glad you agree with legal caterers, but this subject will continue as long as there are illegal caterers taking business away from honest people.

Remember, you don't have to click on this folder.

By matt on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 11:46 am: Edit

I agree. If you're sick of the subject then why did you click on it today?? Why do you have to click on it at all. If you even respond to this I have to wonder if you are truly sick of it. Illegal catering is a problem and a real passionate issue for some. I have a problem with it being brought up on other topics but the title of this thread is, Illegal Caterers, Rant and Raves. So next time try clicking on something else.
chdrs., I think it is great that you have that kind of reputation. I wonder if your clients know that you prepare some food in a non-approved kitchen. Most probably wouldn't have a problem with it, at least not until they got sick. Whether it was your fault or not, if they know you don't work out of an approved kitchen they will probably sue your a** off. I'm not going to give you a real hard time about it because i have to admit that's how I started out for a few months to get my name out there while I was getting legal. Now I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I am doing the right thing. I would just hate to see anyone, especially someone who is talented as you say you are, be put out of business because they were trying to save a few bucks or whatever reason you would have for not being legal. Just a thought.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 12:29 pm: Edit

Carl, let me ask you a question. If chefdrs could not get a health dept. permit to work at his home. (Maybe he cannot or will not get a 3 comp. sink, to keep it simple). He still does everything he else he does, pays taxes, license...etc.
Now let's say the health dept. gets involved and they say, you cannot prepare meals to serve off premises. Now chfdrs says, what if I prep where I serve it? the health dept says, that's fine.
Do you see a big diference in the two (prepping on premises vs off site, is this what makes him legal/illegal) I think this is a fine line in the sense that how much prep is too much in your home to have to get a permit, is it processing food or just buying it and holding it until you take it to where you will prep it?
I think different states may have different standards, what's your angle on this?
How about a chef hired by a boat for day charters?

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 01:40 pm: Edit

When I lived in a small mountain resortI learned another interesting foodservice loophole. Licensed guides and outfitters can provide food from uninspected facilities. I would get so pissed off as the health inspector would knock me for a crack in the linoleum, or (God forbid) a towel not in the bleach bucket. While across the parking lot, 50 yds away, these guys were preparing hot lunches to be taken down on a river trip in a kitchen overrun with flies, dogs, mice and their feces, ect. Their refrigeration was a collection of thrift-store home jobbies, the ones from home that get hauled away. These guys were busy, too. And they charged some money for the lunch-by-the-river thing. No, it isn't fair. But that is the way it is. The lobby representing outfitters in Idaho is well connected and funded. Getting laws to change so that they must conform to current state health regs. isn't even on the horizon. Carl, there are as many "LEGAL" illegals as there are "ILLEGAL" illegals. If you really want to change things, be the best caterer around. Educate people one event at a time. Its easier than being "the catering cops".

By catergreat on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 03:13 pm: Edit

Well, all modesty aside, we ARE the best caterer around our area. I do educate and I am not a catering cop. I haven't turned anyone in, yet...

Manny, that is a quandry. It is not about what is fair, but what is legal and ethical. If being illegal means placing their unsuspecting client in great personal liability, then tjey are unethical and I have a real problem with that.

Maybe there could be a disclosure: "I am operating my business in an illegal manner, not complying with state laws, but I am a great cook and can save you money. If your guests get sick, then your ass is in a sling. Come on, roll the dice with ABC Catering!!!"

It is all about informing the public and education. That is my quest.

Another rant forcoming, so scroll by if you are tired of hearing this...:

One of my main purposes for being so adament about this subject is THIS is my profession. I think it was Churchhill who said every man owes a part of his time and money to the industry he belongs. Thus the purpose of associations.

I have made clear that I am not threatened by illegals. BUT, my industry is. Illegals give our industry a bad name. Many hard working people have failed at this business while trying to do it correctly... The weekend warriors take a huge bite out of the potential for legal caterers.
Debating whether or not we are overrun by illegals is fine, but the point needs to be the education of the public to the risks and liability involved.

I don't know about you guys, but I don't get too excited about eating food from the lowest bidder.



By debord on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 12:29 am: Edit

What about the fact that this industry runs off the sweat of thousands if not millions of illegals? Illegal businesses bother you all but what about illegal labor? Every restaurant closes it's eyes to illegal imigrants that are it's under paid work force. Even if you don't dirrectly employee any, I promise you somewhere in your food chain their sweat brought you profit.

How do you justify chaseing the legality of one issue and turning a blind eye to another?

By sam on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 03:43 am: Edit

dear debord, Every restaurant???, now that is a broad stroke....I personally do not know any caterers in my area that hire "illegals", I'm sure it happens though, there is a fine line between legal & illegal, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, I assure you that like you, some of my clients are in the top 1% of my area, and three are probably in the top 5% in the country, but alas, I still do budget catering, but its great cheap food, mind you....but off the high horse about food quality & all that, there is a simple test to your logic, simply tell your clients what is the truth, you operate contrary to the law, if they keep you, the onus is one them,,,most highly successful persons & business, have gotten that way but reducing their liability & exposure, which if you employ an illegal caterer, that is what you end up with, exposure to liability, it's just that plain & if you purchase your foodstuffs for each & every event, store, pre-prep, prep & finish, serve & clean up at a clients home or facility, you are a personal problem....& dear peachcreek, there are some loopholes, but there is an avenue for change & ammends....the voting booth......sam sears, cec

By sik of illegals on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 09:40 am: Edit

You guy's bust everybodies ba--s that even mention something about illegal caterers!! I come on, although I did not represent myself right, I mean I'm sick of hearing from all these illegal caterers. You guys basically kiss this guy on the cheek and say " it's alright for you because you have experience and training and have a good clientel. What a bunch of hypocrits.
I'm beginning to think Manny's way. chefdrs mentioned nothing about paying sales tax! Do youy guys pay for your health inspections? I do. $350.
premium and $178. twice a year.
Two weeks ago you would have torn this guy a new ahole. Crying about losing business, now you are all the best and don't have any cares.

By catergreat on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 02:09 pm: Edit

debord, that is another issue. When did I, the one who brought this issue to the forefront EVER turn a blind eye to illegal immigrant. Jesus help me here!!!! If you want to discuss illegal immigrants then start a topic. Come on people, if you don't have a valid argument why not just be silent rather than try to invalidate my point with unrelated issues.

I do not hire illegal immigrants nor do I condone it. Illegal is illegal. I also do not drink and drive in case that comes up. Geez.

To sik: I did not kiss the guy on the cheek and say it was ok. Why don't you actually READ a post thoroughly? There is no need to be abusive to someone who asks a question as the personal chef did. I told him he needs to be cautious of his liability. Someone else told him he would get his a$$ sued off. I don't think anyone was kissing up, just giving information.

By Matt (Matt) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 03:32 pm: Edit

I don't believe I ever kissed anyone on the cheek regarding this issue. I stated my feelings and told him that he would probably get sued for what he was doing and that while I didn't totally agree with what he was doing I wasn't going to scream at the guy. Thats not how we change things in this world. I believe in talking with people, making them aware of what they are doing and what they need to do to correct it and what the consequences can be for not correcting it. I am not going to change how people do things by yelling at them of shoving my beliefs down their throat. Only they can make the decision to become legal, not me. This is how I choose to fight illegal catering. If you don't like it, I'm sorry for your not being adult enough to handle it in your own way.


By junior on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 07:10 pm: Edit

yeah,i kinda dig this issue. i'm learning a lot.i even thought about catering.after reading these posts,there is obviously a lot to do. catergreat, keep puttin' out the info.,engage in hand to hand when necessary and deal with it.don't whine.your doin' a good job.people do learn from,that is a good topic about illegals.i'd be interested in any topic like that...junior

By sik on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 07:52 pm: Edit

Catergreat, Do you find something strange about telling me not to be abusive to a poster. I do READ all posts. I've been reminded constantly that this is an open forum where one can speak his mind, No?
Matt, You are a little laid back but," I'd hate to see someone as talented as you be put out of business" He's a personal Chef???What does that mean? HE CATERS FOR UP TO 100 PEOPLE!!
I'm adult enough, how does that not represent abuse??

By Matt (Matt) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 09:22 pm: Edit

First of all I am not out to destroy anyone or their business. Especially if they are talented and doing a good service for someone. I am making him aware of the dangers and how I personally feel about it. And for the record if he is preparing ALL the food at the clients home then he IS a personal chef. That appears to be the most appropriate name for what he is currently doing. But as I ALSO pointed out, currently he is doing it illegal and should get licensed. Do you feel that I should have called him scum of the earth? Or that I hope he loses his livelyhood? Or that he shouldn't be able to support his family? If thats how you think I should have responded, then I think you need to get a heart. If after reading these posts he comes back and says "oh well, I don't care" then he may get a different response. You need to calm down a bit.

By sik on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 11:16 pm: Edit

I'm as cool as a cucumber. I do follow these posts and some people seem to be waffling. Manny is the only one sticking to his guns. I have nothing personal against anyone. But I just keep hearing the same thing over and over. I'm glad you and Carl have great businesses, but I truly feel that if your running an illegal business than you have no business posting on a professional forum. Lets start talking how we are going to to resolve the problem. Cities, Counties,s
States etc. adopt new codes all the time. Hell, I was informed today that my sign that has been place for 20 years is 4 " longer than the new adopted code. $2000. down the drain. You think hoity toity personal chef has these problems. If the illegals want their time than they need to start the illegal catering post.
If someone loses the ability to support his family because he chose to do something illegal then so be it. You don't have to call him scum of the earth, I did'nt. But I won't loose any sleep over him.
Health inspection today, 98 chlorine bucket toxic. Good day until mail time, 7-20 state comptrollers in house audit. 3days to make sure I paid sales tax on my dishsoap!

By Matt (Matt) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 11:52 pm: Edit

Did you ever stop to think that #1, a lot of the people who post on here that are illegal don't even fully realize it? Don't you think that advising them how to become legal is important? I don't believe this web forum says legal caterers. No it says food proffesionals. Do you know what a proffesional is? It's making a living at what you do. If you're going to be so specific about who can and can't post on here then get your information straight at least.

I also believe that a lot of talk has been made on here about how we can change things and as Carl has stated that education of the illegals themeslves is also an important part as is telling the counties, the halls etc...

I'm sorry to hear about your sign but you may want to do some more research on there. If it has been there that long I would think it is grandfathered in unless you're changing it. I know you have business problems as do I and other legals on here. Why do you have problems with a personal chef? Just because they don't have the overhead we have and they service a different market why would that make them hoity toity as you so elegantly said? I agree if after these messages this person chooses not to become legal then I won't lose any sleep over him losing his ability to support his family. I am giving him the advice and the chance to correct it before that does happen which if you had read my post maybe you'd see that. I'm not going to berate someone on here because they are illegal and for the record I believe that Carl and I have clashed heads on that exact subject. I choose to do it in a different manner and I believe that most in here would agree with me. I'm sorry if you can't accept that.


By sik on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 06:27 am: Edit

I don't think I berate anyone, your are absolutely right in everything you say.I'm just not going to teach anyone one in business that does not reasearch the industry before jumping. I have all the respect for someone jumping on and seeking the knowledge from legal professionals before they start their venture.There is all types of information out there to research. Ignorance is something I can't deal with, this is the reason that our rates for everything are higher. We are paying the price for all the illegal activity in the business and I'm just sick of it that all. You don't have to respond to this, its just my rant, it got nothing to do with anyone here.

By debord on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 08:35 am: Edit

It seems to me everyone here thinks legal is the only way to go. I've missed any exceptions! It's just that each of us has a different style and a different level of tolerance and a different way they want to resolve the issue. I see no debate here.

Again I add my two cents (yes taking you in another dirrection). We know what effects our own bottom line (the illegal caterers around us) but what about thinking about a bigger picture since it is a dirrect part of your bottom line and it's with-in some of your high standards that don't prevent you from breaking even the smallest laws.

Is all your produce picked by legals? Are all your dishes washed by legals? Is your delivery man legal? Is your salad guy legal?

It's not an issue to you because they increase your profits. Lets be fair and legal and honest.......we all break the rules when it profits us. Preaching from high poteums is dangerous because were all "sinners", you just don't look down.

By Matt (Matt) on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 10:05 am: Edit

I totally agree with what you are saying debord, but to say we are preaching from high podiums is just ridiculous. I work on things I maybe able to have some control over, not the things I have no control over. And first off, YES everyone that we physically hire IS legal. As for who is picking my produce, working in our suppliers warehouse? These things are not something I can control. That is not my industry. The people who deal with the supplying or manufacturing have to deal with those issues. Are you saying that because people we purchase products use illegal workers from it is ok for a caterer, who probably most of the time is someone without a food handlers permit, to serve the public? To put their guest life at risk? Too make a bad name for all of us who spend the time and money to do the right thing? You can't honestly be justifying these things can you? I agree that hiring illegals isn't correct either, but to justify one wrong with another or to give me a hard time about something I cannot control is just absurd. Just my opinion.

By debord on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 08:23 am: Edit

"These things are not something I can control. That is not my industry." You drive that industry by your purchases!

There's no one in more control. Unless you want the goverment to regulate it.

It's exactly what the catering client says to themselfs. "Hey it's not my problem, I don't control that industry".

"I work on the things I maybe able to have control over." REALLY? You have no control over them, only law enforcement can "control" them. You can blow the whisle on the one guy but two more might pop-up in their place.

Maybe your business is staffed by legal workers but I know you can't state that MOST places don't have illegal workers. The place I work the majority is illegal!

You either pay the price for legal workers in a higher costing product or you condone under the table illegal activity just like the guy who hired the caterer who works out of their house.

By Matt (Matt) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 10:49 am: Edit

So by your accounts I should stop purchasing my supplies??? Because somewhere down the line someone maybe using illegal help?? Tell me how in the he** I am supposed to have anything to do with that. It sounds like I should also pull everyone over I see speeding, or maybe I should just start my own law enforcement agency? Are you serious?
"You either pay the price for legal workers in a higher costing product or you condone under the table illegal activity just like the guy who hired the caterer who works out of their house."
Are you saying I should prescreen EVERY single employee who works in every single division of EVERY one of my suppliers?? Have you any idea what you are saying. And once again you are justifying illegal caterers. I have never once condoned illegal workers. NEVER. But I would never be able to know for sure who hires who, which is out of MY control. When a client has a choice between a legal and an illegal caterer, it's a very easy decision. Either hire the legal or the illegal. It's a choice. How that compares to what you are talking about I honestly have no idea. I appreciate your enthusiasm on this subject and i agree with a lot of what you are saying but, I honestly can't continue in this ridiculous argument of condoning one kind of illegal activity because of another. Sorry!

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 11:49 am: Edit

I think we are running two threads here, illegal workers and illegal businesses. Separate the two when you post.
I think what DeBord might trying to say Matt is that since you are correct, you cannot police all suppliers, hence the same for catering, you cannot control all the illegal businesses within the industry. This subject has been beat to death and the fact remains that illegal caterers will be around as long as there is a demand and; there will always be a demand because at one point or another someone will refuse to do a party and the customer will have to turn to somebody else to do it. The customer may not know they are illegal, just as some illegals don't realize they are illegal. Different municipalities require different items to be legal, you may need an occupational license, a health dept. certificate, a dept. of professional business regulation certificate, a city license, a county license, a state license, sometimes business owners don't have a clue they need some of these items and nobody has a checklist for them. Every beurocracy just does what they need to do to cover their a----, screw everybody else. That's how goverment works, generally speaking. That is also why the Pentagon pays $600.00 for hammers and $5000.00 for toilet seats...etc. because nobody gives a s--- about what they are doing, just give me that paycheck on Friday. (Oh yeah, and that little kickback from the $5000.00 toilets)

By Matt (Matt) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 01:53 am: Edit

I agree. Two completely separate threads which is one of my problems with this. It started off as giving someone advice on legal/illegal catering, then I get problems from someone who thinks we are going to easy on a person, then debord comes out of nowhere with this illegal workers crap. This thread is not for that issue, and I never once said that all the illegal catering could be stopped and I'm not standing here saying it is my lifes mission to do so. That was exactly my point before debord came along. I'm not preaching from some podium, I was just pointing out to someone who posted that what they were doing was illegal. I wish people would go back up to where this all started.
I also agree about the government, everything. I just don't understand the attitude from people trying to justify illegal activity just because it happens. Or to say that because so and so gets away with this, then I guess I'll turn my back to that. I'm sorry but that is just ridiculous not to mention that this is the kind of attitude in the last 10 or 15 years that as far as I'm concerned is ruining the this country. Nothing like teaching our children a lack of respect for the law. Would you ever sit down with your child and justify you're doing something illegal because the guy down the street did something illegal??? That to me is absurd. But that's enough. Honestly I've had it with this conversation, it has gotten way out of context and to think a week ago I was giving catergreat a hard time. Where the hell are you now, when I need you Carl? LOL


By debord on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 08:05 am: Edit

Matt you've taken my thoughts far more personally than they were intended. But when people have passsion for something they always take the subject personally. You all are so offended by some illegal caterers why aren't you offended by my restaurant that takes business away from you too and we can do it cheaper because we hire illegals day and night.

Illegal caterers do create a problem and a health risk but so do many other situations in our industry.

The problem with "illegal" is that everyone only wants to police the situations that take money out of their own pockets. No one cares about the other guy!

We talk about the skill level needed to work in our industry. How graduating from a cooking school doesn't mean much(you still have to pay your dues and you don't start at any higher of a pay rate)....but graduating from tech. school does mean something, graduation from any other schooling means something.

Why does this industry which also requires skilled workers pay so little, give so little to it's employees.

What would we all be making in wages if there was no such thing as illegals in the industry? No illegal aliens, no illegal caterers etc...

The cost for a burger would be different, so would the salary of the burger maker. Oh, wait we only care about caterers no other part of this industry..........

I'm saying take your stand and look alittle further. Action and reaction, we are all tied in together. But we never see it that way. We only look as far as our own backyard.

By George (George) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 08:09 am: Edit

I'm shutting this thread down.

If anyone want to continue either of the two discussions start a new one.

I wish folks would get the concept here. If you have a new twist on an ongoing discussion start a new discussion.

By catergreat on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 02:49 pm: Edit

I hope it is ok to post here after you posted that you are shutting this down. If not, I apologize, George.

Matt, in answer to your question. I am right here, reading this wondering why we are becoming like the US Congress. (i.e. confusing issues so much to dilute the original message)

Let me say this, as much as Matt and I went after each other's throats, we have come to respect and understand each other.

I agree with George, this thread needs to end here. I made my point a long time ago. I acknowledged my mistake in appearing to attack people who asked catering questions, which I am careful not to do.

All the threads seem to go on and on when starting a new topic would make more sense.

By Matt (Matt) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 04:04 pm: Edit

I totally agree George, thanks.

Carl, it's about time!! Good to see you're still around. I was feeling like the caped crusader. LOL

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 01:17 pm: Edit

Educated client,

Many halls and galleries have a prefferd caterer list. To be on that list you MUST be legal. These venues are the prime locations, and a great inspiration to get "Legal"

Here is a good example of a client that knows what to ask.


My fiancÚ and I are getting married in September of 2002. We will be hosting a reception at the San Ramon Community Center (has kitchen facilities) for approx 150-200 people, some of which will be children. I am attaching an excel spreadsheet of our menu requests, including all the extras which we will need.

Could you please review the spread sheet and let us know what we can look forward to as a per-head price? My fiancÚ is Greek and will prefer to have these items made according to her family recipes.

We would also like a price differential on buffet vs. sit down vs. half buffet and sit down for the head table.

Please also provide information on deposits, your liability and alcohol insurance/licenses, and payment methods.

We look forward to working with you!

Name and contact info deleted!!!

WELL DONE EH? Of course I have never heard of "Alcohol insurance" Our liability covers most circumstances

PS anyone want to cook with a greek mother looking over their shoulder?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 04:19 pm: Edit

You know how they separate the men from the boys in Greece?

With a crowbar!

By sam on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 10:30 pm: Edit

Mbw, not to deviate from your post, but what do you mean by "not never hearing of alcohol insurance"....general liability coverage for caterers that does not specifically include alcohol service/intoxication coverage, will not cover that type of must have a specific rider to extend your liability coverage to cover incidents involving alcohol & its service....most companies will not extend that coverage to you, unless you are specifically licensed to serve alcohol in a catered enviroment...most states do not license "off premise" caterers to service alcohol, but some do - mine does...the licenses are $800.00/yr to the state & 250/yr to the Feds - ATF, and some localities in our state also imposed their own additional fees...and my coverage for 5M (just the alcohol rider) is now 1100.00 (went up this yr)......sam sears, cec

By Mbw (Mbw) on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 11:50 am: Edit


You took the bait! That all looks right to me. I have just never heard of a "separate" insurance policy for serving Alcohol. Just like I have never heard of a "Catering" licence.

We do NOT have a licence to "sell" alcohol, but we do full bar service as well as beer and wine parties. Here's how we do it. We can only charge for rentals, labor, mixer bars (lemons, limes, salt, orange juice, soda, sweet and sour, etc..) The CLIENT must purchase their own booze. We work with vendors that deliver to the site, and we handle the rest. The down side is we do not make the markup on the booze, AND we are still just as liable as if we were selling. The up side is that is saves the client $$$ and they can't complain if they run out since THEY ORDERED IT. We do make suggestions as to how much and what to buy and that works pretty good.

In San Francisco proper you can not do ANY off site liquior sales without a "FULL" service licence. So if I want to sell beer and wine I need the same licence as a bar. These licences get auctioned off starting at $10,000 and usually go for AT LEAST $18,000 I also believe this does not even touch on the transfer fees/taxes that the ABC needs. So I need a buy $20,000 licence to sell a bottle of Merlot.

There are local bartender services "Best beverage catering" "Bartenders unlimited" that work with local caterers to provide full service bars at many catered events.

You can also get a bar to work with you by getting a "Day catering permit" this rides on their licence and usually cost a few hundered dollars.

Ahh... I'm off to do a late produce pickup... and buy a crowbar.


By TMarta on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 08:01 pm: Edit

Look, don't ask me how I ended up being in Kentucky for over 7 years, just accept the fact. We have to buy an additional "catering" license here to be allowed to serve (cater, even box lunches, let alone parties or receptions), over the 24 people our "bakery" will hold. Also, to legally use liqueurs, brandy, etc. in our preps, we should buy a "liquor" license as well. I'm surprised that they don't get us on the alchol content of extracts. Catering licenses exist...I shelled out for one.

By sam on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 08:13 pm: Edit

TMarta, I'm in KY too!, but you must be referring to your local gov't, there is NO seperate license for "catering" over & above your "permit to operate a food service establisment" your local gov't may impose any more licensure than the commonwealth requires, its up to for using liquor in your food products, that would constitute a bonafide ingrediant and not place you under the auspices of the ABC, unless you are selling by the drink, bottle, ect......just wanted to clear that on to MBW....thats the way we used to work too!, but our rest assoc lobbied to get a "caterers" liquor license added to the myriad of licenses already issued by the State ABC...and in our area, liquor licenses by the drink are equally expensive as yours, sometimes in my city some have gone for 30-45K...since there is a limited number of "by the drink" licenses issued to a county....but on to your liability question...if you or your staff or your assigns (bartending srvcs)serves someone who is already drunk or underage & they cause an accident your firm is exposed to liability..and I don't think your general liability policy would cover for that occurence, pls don't take my word, ask your agent......enjoyed the factitiousness of your "catering license"........sam

By Matt on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:23 am: Edit

Our attorney and our insurance rep both told us that the one and only true way to not hold yourself liable is to setup a separate agreement between the client and the bartenders or service. That way the agreement is between them. Keeps our liability insurance way down and we don't have to worry if anything should go wrong with that.

By houston on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 08:10 am: Edit

what is the "seperate agreement" between client and bartenders or service?

By sam on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 06:07 pm: Edit

not being an attorney, but "somewhat" of a insurance liability expert (at least where catering is concerned), the only way to totaly absolve yourself of the issue of liability & alcohol, is to have the bartenders work directly for the client, you do not direct, break,employ, insure, ect,,,you only provide the mixers ect... and the client provides the booze....then you are correct in that you would not be exposed to liability where the alcohol or bartenders are concerned....But if the bartenders are under your care & control, then even if the client provides the alcohol, your firm would be liable for any problems arrising out of the distribution of the spirits......and I sincerely do not think that a general liability policy would cover any exposure with regards to the service of alcohol........just my thoughts..sam

By Matt on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 06:54 pm: Edit

Thats exactly what I was talking about. Thanks Sam for explaining it clearer for me. It's really crazy around here and I guess I'm kind of out of it.

By TMarta on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 07:14 pm: Edit

Sam, the catering license is here, do you want to see it? I had to pay $100.00 extra over and above my business license TO BE ABLE TO CATER AND PROVIDE FOOD TO MORE THAN MY ESTABLISHMENT WOULD HOLD. Laugh all you like, I'm glad that someone can over this. Where I live they hit you up on everything...good ol' boys' network and all. But here it is. Count your blessings that you are wherever you are. They would have shut me down without it, if I dared to cater to more than 24.
I am a "Brought-in".

By sam on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 08:47 pm: Edit

Dear TMarta, I never said that there wasn't a catering license requirement in your area, just not in the commonwealth at large...I am in Lexington, and can assure you that restaurants with seating carries a higher license fee than my establishment.....just as I said in other posts, my locales enforce their own fees on businesses, such as Frankfort that has an additional Caterers Liquor License Fee, & lexington doesn't.....hope this clears up any misunderstanding.....sam

By TMarta on Thursday, August 16, 2001 - 07:36 pm: Edit

Sorry, can just see how ticked I am at the locals here, . Thank your lucky stars that you are in civilization. EVERYTHING carries school tax here. I think they make things up as they go along, especially for "Brought-ins".

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