The Caterers Corner
Starting a rental hall in Center City Philadelphia Caterers Corner: Starting a rental hall in Center City Philadelphia
By Macsin (Macsin) on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 09:48 pm: Edit

Hello all.

I recently was offered an opportunity to start a hall rental / catering business at a large church in center city Philadelphia. The hall itself has 2 banquet rooms, 2 kitchens, 1 bar, restroom facilities, some on-site parking, stage, seating for 350. It DOES need a facelift, which monies are be appropriated for. They are willing to pay for it. What is the best way to go about this as far as legalities, start up do's and don'ts, etc.
Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, we are looking for exclusives to use in the hall. Any takers, please contact me.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 02:21 pm: Edit

Sounds interesting,

What does "opportunity to start a hall rental / catering business" mean?

Are you going to be the only onsite caterer? Are you going to be responsible for leasing it out to clients and supervising it? Do you pay rent? Do you get a percentage of the room?

The best would be for them to bring the kitchen up to code and do enough decorating to make the place VERSITILE. This means the client decorates to suit. Most new constructions will need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities act of 1743(it that right? Anyone?) and any new health codes too. You will need wheelchair access to the facilities, bathrooms, proper hood, kitchen flooring etc.. If it is already in operation as the same kind of business YOU will be doing then you maybe able to skirt around the current laws. This is good and bad, as it will allow the powers that be to avoid needed repairs. So you may want to hold the "Grandfather clause" in reserve for emergencies.

#1 Insurance. In some cases getting insured will force you to look closer into the situation. Call around and get some quotes. The agent will grill you a bit and may ask about things you haven't thought of.

#2 Health dept inspection.

#3 Fire dept. If you are being given orders by the health dept, the Pope, the police chief, and the fire chief all at once, the fire chief wins! Trust me. In banquet facilities getting out in an emergency is real important.

"Also, we are looking for exclusives"
I guess this means you DON'T cater yourself. Ok then here is the rub.. Exclusive means ONE. What you may want to do is develop a "preferred caterers list" These are licensed insured caterers that you can refer your clients to. For the most part I manage getting on these lists by being nice to the facilities managers (janitor), cleaning up after our events, and getting out in a reasonable amount of time. If you give "exclusive" rights to a caterer then they will get a part of all events there if they do them or not. They will also get a say as to how the facilities are used by outside caterers. Often these "exclusive" will only offer one small fridge, the dishwasher and stove to the visiting caterer. The huge plus to having an exclusive is that they will watch it like a hawk and protect your interests for you. Just find one you trust.

I could and would go on but... I am unclear as to what YOUR roll is. Salesperson, broker, coordinator?

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