Find a caterer near Elgin, IL

Find a caterer near Elgin, IL

9 near you

Find a caterer near Elgin, IL

9 near you

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Top 9 Caterers near Elgin, IL

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.
Reviews for Elgin caterers
Thumbtack Customer
Easy to work with, accomodating and the food was delicious. Allen jumped in and helped where needed. The event was great and a big part of it was due to North Island catering. Thanks again!! I would definitely work with them again. :)
North Island CateringNorth Island Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Long Story Short: If you are looking for a caterer for a smaller corporate event, graduation party, birthday party, casual wedding… HIRE NORTH ISLAND CATERING! They are very accommodating, and work their butt off to give you exactly what you want for your event. They make delicious home made food, for a reasonable price. If you are looking for something very large, more high-end, with passed hors devours, or signature cocktails, keep moving. The Details: We hired North Island Catering for our wedding reception for roughly 175 people held at the Haight in Elgin, IL. We wanted a heavy appetizer set up with hand held buffet style food options for dinner. Additionally we had desserts and a late-night food option. We also wanted a full open bar for guests, and champagne welcome. The Food: First off, Allen was very cooperative and flexible when it came to picking out our menu and food options for the event. Unfortunately, we were so busy with mingling with guests, we really didn’t get to try too much of the food ourselves! However, many of our guests gave us great compliments on the spread. Allen allowed us to come in for a ‘tasting’ at his restaurant beforehand to get a feel for the types of food they offer. Everything was delicious, everything! We ended up serving a whole gamut of different hot and cold appetizers, including jalapeno poppers, bacon wrapped shrimp, veggies, fruit, sweet & spicy jelly spread, among others. For dinner we served pulled 2 different salads, pork, tinga, and Italian beef along with a ton of other sides. We received nothing but happy reviews from our guests regarding the food. The brownies got a standing ovation! The late night food was a success, and I saw many people with a hot dog in one hand and drink in the other, working it on the dance floor. The Service/Presentation: Allen and his crew arrived to the event on time, and prepared to get the food out quickly and efficiently. We had a lot of food, and a lot of hungry people. One negative we did feel the need to comment on was the presentation. We requested heavy plastic plates and silverware, and I was a bit surprised to see small white paper plates with purple details instead. The dressings for the salad were set up in large Styrofoam cups, with a plastic spoon to ladle. I felt that this part could have been jazzed up a bit. Food was placed on black plastic trays, and the hot food was kept in metal tins (no problems there). Although not a huge deal, I would recommend having place cards or some way of labeling the food in the future, so guests know what they are grabbing. Alcohol was served in clear plastic cups (perfect), but towards the end of the night it moved to red solo cups, not a favorite of mine, but no big deal in the end. Although not the fault of Allen, I think that in the future allowing the table to be served off of both sides would have eliminated the long line of people waiting to get some grub! Allen and North Island Catering did a great job of getting food out when needed, providing great food, and cleaning up in a timely manner. Our venue had pretty strict policies regarding catering and Allen, and his team, were up for the challenge. The Bar: This is the part of the review where I was a bit hesitant to write. Everything turned out to be okay in the end, but there were some hiccups along the way. Since the beginning of communication with Allen, they let us know that they would like our input on deciding the amounts of alcohol we would like served. Allen had asked us to provide a complete list of alcohol we wanted. We did, and it included some higher end spirits. Allen gave us an updated quote for the alcohol and let us know that anything left over would be ours to keep. After running some numbers and doing the math ourselves, we provided our alcohol estimates to Allen. He stated that he thought it was completely too much. Being a catering professional, we trusted in his work, and let him make the final decision on how much to buy. When we arrived at the venue in the morning (we decorated ourselves the day of), we were surprised to see how little alcohol there was. In our minds, we knew that with our group of friends and family, they would be taking full advantage of a full bar! Our day-of venue organizer also made some suggestions that she didn’t feel the alcohol/mixers would be enough given the size of our large party. We were able to contact Allen right away and voice our concerns. We even offered to have him buy more than he thought we needed and return what was left (as opposed to having us keep anything leftover). Allen understood our concerns, and ultimately brought more alcohol to the event. This was just an unnecessary stress for us on the day of the event. On a positive note, when booze was running low, North Island Catering even went out during the event and bought more. Additionally, a small mistake was made and a different brand of beer was bought than what we previously discussed. (I had time to change the Bar Sign with the correct brand, so ultimately it was no big deal). Finally, we paid to have the bar until 12 (midnight). Not sure where the miscommunication occurred, but the bartenders started cleaning the bar and announcing last call at around 11pm. We had lots of guests coming up to us, wondering why they could no longer get a drink. We did not realize the venue wanted the caterers to be gone by 12, so we were expecting the service to run a bit later. The bartenders continued to hand out beers as they were cleaning, so kudos to them. The Communication: Communication with Allen was impeccable. Allen was always very responsive via Thumbtack, and by phone. (Even when there was a Blackhawks game on). Allen was quick to offer suggestions, answers, and solutions to our questions and concerns within a few hours of us reaching out. If there was any reason to contact them, we knew that he would respond quickly. This was very reassuring since we planned the event completely ourselves. The day of the event Allen was able to answer phone calls and texts without a problem. The Price: The price of this event was very fair, and I think it was worth every penny. Our venue planner demanded that North Island Catering bring more workers to help with the service, and the addition of these people were the only last minute costs we had to endure (no fault of North Island). I appreciated that North Island Catering provided us with a price, negotiated with us to allow us to keep under our budget, and stuck with their promise in the end.
North Island CateringNorth Island Catering
Thumbtack Customer
The service, quality of food, reliability and price was outstanding! Allen was able to prepare breakfast and lunch for a crowd of approx. 500 people. The presentation was very well organized and appealing. Allen went above and beyond to make sure we were ready for the event with follow up phone calls, emails and coordinating a time to visit the location for proper set-up. It was extremely impressive how Allen was able to handle a tight timeline between breakfast and lunch. Many compliments were shared by those who enjoyed the delicious food. We highly recommend Allen for your next catering service needs! Thank you Allen for helping make our event a huge success! Look forward to working with you again.
North Island CateringNorth Island Catering
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