The Catering Company

Frequently Asked Questions


What does being a custom, full-service, caterer mean?

    As a custom caterer we create seasonal menus appropriate to our client's taste preferences, budget demands and theme considerations. Our "sample menus" are only an initial indication of our repertoire. As a full-service caterer, we can plan and coordinate all aspects of your affair. Our event proposal will encompass all other aspects beyond food and beverage, including all rentals, decorations, site selection and layout, lighting, tenting, valet parking and more.

What is the process for planning an event?

    After your initial contact with our office, you will be sent general catering information and sample menus appropriate for your type of event. After reviewing this information, call to arrange an appointment with your event planner. Your event planner will then guide you through the planning process, culminating in a custom proposal for your event.

How far do you travel to cater an event?

    We cater state-wide, as well as in surrounding states. In this period of rising gasoline prices, a fuel surcharge applies to all events and will be included in your proposal. Please note too that labor costs will increase with increased travel time. More distant events may also involve special truck or van rental fees.

What size of events do you cater?

    We cater events from small family dinner parties to occasions for several thousand guests.

When do I need to reserve a date on your calendar?

    As soon as you have a specific date in mind, contact us to reserve that date on our calendar. Some events are booked a year in advance! Normally, we need 10 days advance notice to plan an event, although some can be arranged in less time. A $100.00 "save the date" deposit will hold a date in advance of our custom proposal. This deposit is non-refundable if you choose not to proceed with your event. Otherwise, it will be deducted from your final bill.

How do I make a reservation?

Can you recommend a site for my party? How much extra will it cost me?

We are an approved caterer at virtually all off-premise catering sites in the area. A partial list of these sites is given below. Note that different sites are unequally suited for any given affair and, understandably, have different rates or fees for use. Reservations for any site must be made well in advance of your event. We are happy to recommend an appropriate site for your event. Site reservation must be made directly by the client.

Partial List of off-premise catering sites in the area:

Chapel Hill/Pittsboro

Horace Williams House
Extraordinary Ventures
North Carolina Botanical Gardens
West End Public
The Century Center
Snipes Farm Retreat
Inn at Bingham School
The Inn at Celebrity Dairy
The Barn at Valhalla
Rigmor House
Rock Quarry Farm
Shady Wagon Farm
Het Landhuis, Pittsboro


American Tobacco Campus – Bay 7
Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens, Duke University
The Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University
The Rickhouse
The King’s Daughters Inn
The Freeman Center for Jewish Life at Duke University
North Carolina Museum of Life and Science
Durham Arts Council
Realtor Square
The Trotter Building
Von Canon Hall, Bryan University Center at Duke University
The Atrium at North Pavilion, Duke University


Ayr Mount
Burwell School
Elodie Farms
Moorefields Farm


North Carolina Museum of Art
Haywood Hall
Tucker House
Mordecai Plantation Home

I may need a tent. Can you provide one?

We can arrange a tent rental for your every need. When a tent is used, we plan and diagram its orientation at your site, table placements within, etc. Typically, rental companies for tents bill the client directly and require a 50% deposit before installation.

I would like to have an event with a specific theme. Do you supply decorations and other items to suit the theme I have in mind?

    Your event planner can coordinate all aspects of your party to suit a particular theme you have in mind. Our approach is all-inclusive. From a custom menu to style of food presentations, from table settings (chairs, linen, china, serving pieces, flowers, etc.) to site development (enclosures, props, walkways, lighting, plants, etc.), our award-winning custom catering and décor services can surpass your wildest dreams! From the smallest aspect of your vision to large-scale prop construction and dramatic visual effects, we direct all our efforts to your wishes in creating and staging a truly unforgettable affair.

Some of my guests are vegetarian. How will you accommodate them?

    We are happy to provide vegetarian or other dietetic menu choices as needed to please your guests. Special meals are normally billed at the regular menu rates.

I'm not too confident when it comes to selecting the best wines for my party. How can you help me?

    Our wine director is exceptionally talented in matching wine to food and can recommend or select for you the best wine in your price range. Our wine prices (per bottle) are highly competitive and we offer the added advantage of charging you only for bottles opened, with no left-over, unused inventory.

Can you recommend a baker for a wedding cake?

    Yes. We have several contacts in the area we recommend highly. In addition, no special labor charges apply for cutting and serving the wedding cake.

Do you provide flowers?

    We can order appropriate floral arrangements within your budget or can assist you in coordinating all floral decisions. We work with many prominent florists in the area. Most florists bill directly to the client.

Do you provide entertainment services?

    No. But we can suggest a wide range of musicians and other entertainment resource references available in the area.

What beverage services do you provide?

    Full bar services can be provided for parties large and small. By State Law we can only serve mixed drinks when the client supplies the liquor. We can recommend how much liquor to purchase for any given event. With the exception of liquor, we provide all other beverage needs. Beverage costs themselves are billed by number of bottles opened. We do not charge a corking fee when we serve wine or beer supplied by the client. There are no other special surcharges for bartending when we serve mixed drinks or other specialty beverages supplied by the client.

Can I provide my own beverages?

    Yes you can provide your own beverages although most clients find that unless they are getting a very good discount on the wine they are providing it is more reasonable and less work to get their beverages from us. We do not charge any corking fees if you do provide your own beer and wine.

Do you provide shuttle service or valet parking?

    Yes. These services are contracted through independent service agencies. We are happy to coordinate these services for your event.

What can I expect to see in your proposal?

    Our event proposals itemize cost estimates per person for food and beverage in addition to cost estimates for labor, rentals, linens, etc. Changes in the final guest count as calculated on our proposal may affect stated cost estimates.

How are labor costs determined?

    All service labor is billed by the hour, excluding deliveries. Wait staff labor is billed at a minimum of 5 hours per wait, per event. Kitchen labor, including lead chef and dish staff, are billed only for service hours provided. Labor cost estimates in our proposals normally include travel time between our facility and the event site.

Are any gratuities included in either my proposal or final bill?

    Gratuities are wholly at the discretion of the client and are never included in our proposal or on our invoice.

When do I need to decide on a final guest count? What happens if that number goes up or down shortly before or the day of the event?

    We require your final minimum guest count five (5) business days in advance of your event. This number will be used to establish ordering quantities for food, rentals, numbers of staff, etc. After this final guaranteed minimum number is given, we will make every effort to accommodate increases to your final count made within three (3) business days of your event, but we cannot lower your final count for billing purposes after the first deadline.

Do you have a contract? What does it include?

    Our catering contract is as follows:

    TERMS & CONDITIONS: Signatures below acknowledge that The Catering Company will provide catering services as specifically detailed in the proposal above. Food and Equipment Rental costs listed in this proposal are estimates only and may vary as the details of the event change. Beverage and Labor estimates may also vary. Changes to the above information are possible and will be agreed upon by the client and a representative of The Catering Company no later than five (5) business days prior to your event.

    Your final guest count is due five (5) business days prior to your event and will not be decreased after this date for final billing purposes by The Catering Company. The final guest count may be raised no later than three (3) business days prior to your event. In the event of a necessary increase within three days of your event, our staff will make all possible arrangements to accommodate additional guests, however additional service fees may apply in the form of vendor delivery fees and food procurement and preparation fees. The client will be financially responsible for any increased cost for rush orders required to acquire products or services necessary to accommodate increases in the final count made less than three (3) business days prior to your event.

    If you wish to include service of liquor at your event, these beverages must be provided by the client and delivered directly to staff of The Catering Company (not event site staff at public venues) at the event site 90 to 15 minutes before service. All liquor must be removed from public venue premises by the client at the conclusion of the event.

    A $100.00 deposit and signature of this contract is required to secure our services for this event, with 50% due two months before the event date and the balance due on the last business day before your event. Any necessary adjustments will be billed approximately two weeks following the event. You may make payments by check or credit card (VISA MC or AMEX).

    In the event of cancellation or re-scheduling, the client agrees to remit for any irretrievable material and production costs incurred for the event. Hold the date deposits cannot be returned. Other deposits will be returned minus any costs just described.

Do you carry liability insurance?

Yes. A Certificate of Liability Insurance can be provided to you if necessary.

Do you require a deposit?

    We typically request a deposit of 50% of the total cost estimate presented in our proposal when a contract is finalized. Corporate and University clients may qualify for a deposit waiver.

Do you accept credit cards?

    We accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express credit cards as well as payment by check.