Serve Late Night Menus with Flair
The goal of today’s trendy caterer is to stay cutting edge and to stand out among competitors. The idea is to always have the ability to reach into your bag of tricks and come up with something unique and interesting that will thrill your clients and delight their guests, and, that will add an element of surprise to the event. One way to give your customers an awesome experience is through an unforgettable late-night menu. Instead of shutting down the kitchen after a traditional dessert, you want to keep the party going into the wee hours by serving original and exciting food that will keep your guests happy and boost the enthusiasm level to new heights. Late-night menus give you an opportunity to think outside of the box and to take your catered events to a whole new level.
The Party That Never Ends
Chances are your customers will want their guests to spend hours and hours dancing, drinking, eating, and socializing at the event they’ve hired you to cater. But partying into the early-morning hours can be draining for the revelers, even for the young and energetic. After two or three hours of dancing, hunger pangs will inevitably set in, especially for those who have managed to dance their way through most of the food, not to mention dessert and cake. So, despite the fact that you provided a hearty meal, your guests will need more fuel.
A rumbling stomach can make even the most stalwart party-goers start thinking about a quick exit and a run to a local fast-food joint to satisfy their craving – and you and your customers want to do everything to prevent that from happening at your event. For those guests who have hung around on the dance floor or who have just spent hours expanding their social network, they will be thrilled to discover post-dessert treats that will hit the spot and give them the energy to keep on going. A little late-night sustenance will lengthen the party and elevate the party atmosphere enabling it to soar into the morning hours.
Up Close and Personal
While late-night food is a hot trend at the moment, your guests will still be surprised and grateful at the tasty gesture that ensures everyone will leave your party in the best of spirits. Feel free to choose untraditional and unusual food combinations; although late-night menus tend to have the vibe of bar food, you can branch out beyond sliders and tacos to make the menu truly exceptional. Guests won’t anticipate this unexpected surprise, and they are sure to keep talking about the memorable twist long after the event finally comes to its conclusion.
A late-night menu is your chance to boost the fun factor and to be as creative as you can. It is also a great way to help your clients connect with their guests, as the crowd is usually winnowed down after midnight, giving the remaining guests a chance to enjoy a more intimate atmosphere. When you and your customers are planning the late-night menu, help them expand their imagination and together you should aim to come up with something truly unique. Does the bride love donuts? There are so many ways to feature the delicious snack as a post-dessert dessert. Does the guest of honor “secretly” zap a piece of pizza every night before he goes to sleep (and somehow survive…)? Serving late-night individual pizzas with a variety of toppings will be an apt homage to him that his friends and relatives will love. Look for details about your clients’ favorite foods from childhood, or family staples, and then use these as your inspiration. In other words, the more personal a late night snack is to the celebration, the better it will be received.
Late Night Options
Even if the event has been elegant and upscale up to midnight, a late-night menu is a chance for you, your clients, and the guests to let your proverbial hair down. Anything goes late at night: sweet potato fries, stuffed potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, shakes and smoothies, or tacos with guacamole and spicy chopped beef… even if the main course had been Beef bourguignon and the appetizer included Beluga caviar.
If you’re already stretching the conventional limits with your menu, you should try to be as creative with presentation as you are with the food choices. Food on a stick is not just the purview of state fairs; they are a fabulously fun way to eat late-night snacks and they look great when they’re displayed or passed around by your wait staff. Eating food without utensils is perfect for the late hours and food on a stick has gone way beyond the conventional corndog to ravioli on a stick (yes!), chocolate-covered bananas on a stick, and miniature pies and ice-cream sandwiches on a stick. The sky’s the limit when you stick it on a stick.
Because calories don’t count after midnight, there’s no need to feel limited by health considerations (unless your client requires that you try to keep the late-night menu healthful). Traditional comfort food, for instance, never gets old. In other words, old is the new “new”, and you can add a twist to any of the classics to stay trendy. As one caterer says about his late-night menu, “We’re doing our take on redefined classics. It’s different, better iterations of what we know, and an excuse to eat your guilty pleasure.” Small servings of mac and cheese or mini pizzas are always welcome. You can also take advantage of the late hour to transition into breakfast, with biscuits, waffles, French toast, and pancakes, which are fantastic any time of the day or night. “Diners want comforts on late-night menus,” the caterer says. “Food that… brings back good memories or makes you feel good is perfect for late night.”
Timing Your Late-Night Offerings
Time the party in a way that you will be bringing out the late-night snacks about an hour or two before the end of the party. This will also probably be about an hour or so after the cake cutting at a birthday or wedding, or dessert at any other celebration. Set up a small buffet table or have your wait staff circulate among the guests with trays of treats.
Grab-and-go stations are fun and convenient for late-night snacks if you want guests to have a literal, physical takeaway from the party. You can pre-pack customized to-go bags or containers so guests can grab them as they leave. For more ideas of what to offer your guests and to help your clients keep their celebration alive, check out, “15 Late-Night Wedding Snacks That Totally Hit The Spot.”
If you and your clients are trying to decide if a late-night menu is right for their party, consider the timeline. There’s no need to serve snacks if the reception is scheduled to end before 11 p.m., since guests will still be satisfied from dinner and dessert. But if you’re planning a celebration that lasts into the early morning hours, guests will appreciate the edible pick-me-ups.
In addition, many hosts of big events in general, and brides and grooms in particular, are distracted by the excitement of the ceremony and mingling with their friends and family to actually eat any of the food that is served during the main meal. Although you will probably make sure that they have food when they go home, the late-night snack provides them with a second chance to eat once things have calmed down a bit.
Don’t forget to check the noise ordinances of the locality and the venue you are using. Many places and event halls have an 11 p.m. stop time on entertainment or noise. Double check to ensure that your party, that was supposed to last all night, doesn’t have the plug pulled before it even has a chance to get started. Also, late-night eating usually means late-night drinking, so as a courtesy, try to have a cab or two on standby for guests who need a designated driver.
Leave a Lasting Impression
Serving a late-night menu is an excellent way to have a memorable impact on those who attend your catered events. The late-night snacks are the closing act of your party, and it will give guests a positive final memory of the perfect occasion as the curtain falls. After-hours menus are a delectable way to wrap up the night on a positive note and leave a lasting impression on your clients and their guests.