Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 7
Part 7: Catering
Planning the catering at the festival is another important part. We always look to provide a wide range of quality food to suit different palates. Ultimately you don’t want customers to leave your site, get food elsewhere and then decide not to return. It also needs to be food that is easy to eat rather than having to sit down with a knife and fork.
We were unable to use BBQ Unique who had provided the hog roast, burgers and the like in the previous two years as they had prior engagements. We wanted to use Fresh Basil again as we (and our punters) thought their food was really good at Alfreton, plus they are local and have a good reputation.
However, Strutts said they wanted to be responsible for the catering and so we left it with them to come up with a plan and discuss it with us so we could ensure that we had a good range of hot and cold food and that the right type of food would be available.
In fairness to them, I don’t think they knew what they were in for and so we explained the expected footfall, what we wanted and that catering would have to be provided at nearly all the sessions. I think this may have overwhelmed or frightened them a little but they said they would go away and think about it so we left them to it.
Anyone who remembers how poor some of the food was at Midland Railway knows that in years since we’ve tried much harder to find better caterers. The food that the Railway themselves put on was very basic and had not been well received by customers but sometimes when you hire a venue you don’t always have a choice which we didn’t when we there. To add insult to injury, we didn’t even get a small cut from their profits even though this is usually a prerequisite of appointing a caterer.
Strutts took quite some time to decide whether or not to do the catering and in the end made arrangements to contract it out to Fresh Basil. We eventually got the caterer we wanted but it took rather longer than we would have liked. We weren’t going to get a cut of their profits on this occasion though, as this would go to Strutts. They also said they knew of a butchers who could provide a hog roast for the Friday and Saturday evenings so left them to arrange this.