Last time I spoke about the perils of being a corporate caterer in December, and about how one month’s normal business was usually crammed into 21 or 22 days. As you know, this always annoyed me, but there’s another factor that can make December an even more challenging month.
If you own a restaurant, you know that the weather can be your mortal enemy at times. Early in my career, I owned a fast-food restaurant in a university area; my place totally relied on walk-in traffic. If it was sunny and nice, we could have a great lunch, but rain at noon represented a dollar loss that would never be recouped. When I became a corporate caterer, I was happy that for once, I didn’t have to live and die with the weather. Rain, wind and cold didn’t bother me as customers usually had their events and meetings regardless, and I could casually watch the nightly weather report and not fear that a steady rain would cost me hundreds of dollars.
The holiday season unfortunately brought the weather quickly back in focus. Since we were in Wisconsin, true winter could start anytime in late October or early November. To be honest, I used to enjoy temperatures between 35 and 42 degrees since our vehicles would be natural refrigerators. We didn’t have to ice any cold food or find enough insulated Cambros and coolers to handle a large event.
If it got really cold, our trays and platters would still be OK in the unheated truck for a short time period, and we were comfortable navigating these temperature issues. Snow, however, was another thing altogether.
Bad Weather – Busiest Day
As I had mentioned last week, you can always pinpoint your busiest December day ahead of time by simply looking at the calendar. One year, on our busiest holiday party day—December 22nd—it decided to snow 12 inches.
In Wisconsin we were used to snow and even if it snowed a foot overnight, the plows would be out and streets would be somewhat passable the next morning. This time the snow started at 4:00 a.m. and was peaking at 11:00 a.m., just when we had to get all of the food out.
Warned the Staff
I had let my staff know that even though bad weather was on the way, our customers would still want their food, and I was right, as we received four or five calls confirming that not only was our food still needed—it was expected to be delivered on time. We were fine in the kitchen, we were able to start our four GMC Suburbans, we were able to load up, but it took four us to push the loaded trucks through two-foot snow drifts and get them on their way.
A Different Business
If ever we wished that we were office workers in a nice warm building it was on that day. And yes, we got the food out, the customers were happy and we got paid. Not delivering the food was absolutely not an option, so we fought through the adverse conditions.
Amazingly a major snowstorm on our busiest December day happened only once in 15 years but that didn’t stop me from paying close attention to the weather again however, beginning on December 1st.
This year it looks like there are early major cold temperatures coming to a great portion of the country. If you need help with strategies to get your orders out during stressful times like these, feel free to contact us at The Corporate Caterer. As you can see, we’ve been there and are here to help you.