What makes a retail catering menu shine (2024)

When it comes to catering, a key part of standing out as a retail deli is to ensure there is something for everyone.

Customers planning to entertain a large number of people are often looking for options for a variety of dietary needs. They will also want a variety of flavors to fit everyone’s taste.

On its website, Meals2Go.com, Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans has its catering menu divided into sections that make it easy for the consumer to quickly find what type of food they are looking for.

This past winter's sections were the following:

  • Winter & Tailgating
  • The Office
  • Schools & Sports
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Starters
  • Pizza & Wings
  • Cakes & Desserts
  • Drinks
  • Made with No Gluten
  • Extras

The consumer who knows they have some guests with a gluten intolerance can head directly to the Made with No Gluten menu and see all of their choices there. Parents who are looking for kid-friendly foods can go straight to Schools & Sports. Company managers can even check out which foods are best to order for a workplace by clicking on The Office.

The seasonal section — previously Winter & Tailgating, now Spring Gatherings is a great opportunity for the deli to showcase foods that are available for a limited time or just fit what people are craving the most that time of year.

Another important part of a catering menu is providing adequate information that is clear and concise. If a customer is quickly browsing their choices for catering, they are likely to skip over the menus that have too much bulky text to scan through to find pricing and amounts. Likewise, if there is not enough information, they also might skip rather than taking an extra step to call the store.

As someone is browsing one of the sections on the Wegmans catering website, they will see more specific headings as they scroll down. For example, the Made with No Gluten section is then divided into Starters, Sushi, Entrées & Sides, Sandwiches & Salads, Pizza & Wings and Cakes & Desserts.

Under the Sushi heading, the store makes a point to proactively answer a question the consumer might have by clarifying that the tempura is also only made with corn and rice flour.

From there, each individual item is displayed with a in image and the number of people it serves in the title. In a smaller text below, it gives how many hours the store needs the order placed in advance.

Providing this information on the main page saves the consumer a few clicks as they scroll to see what fits their party size and time frame. If it is a last-minute gathering of 8-10 people, they could go for the EZ Entertaining Tray that only needs four hours’ notice versus the Danny’s Favorite Cheese & Charcuterie Tray that requires 24 hours.

Once the customer has determined that the serving amount and time frame for the product fits their needs, they can click on it and get more information, such as the specific cheeses and accompaniments that are included.

Providing a drink menu with plenty of choices is another way to secure a consumer’s business.

Wegmans offers its private label coffee boxes, plain water bottles, flavored water, sparkling water, vitamin-infused water, iced tea, cola, diet cola, ginger ale, diet ginger ale and even kombucha so that there is an option for anyone’s drink preference.

There are also 7-pound ice bags available so that is one last step the customer does not have to think about.

Create-your-own menu options

Another way to have exactly what a consumer wants is offering custom, create-your-own items.

One place Wegmans does this is with its pizza menu. The customer can choose between a regular pizza, sheet pizza or veggie crust pizza and select any sauce and toppings they want. For the customer who wants things more simplified and efficient, there are also a variety of signature pizza flavors to choose from.

Other custom products that Wegmans offers are create-your-own muffin, donut and bagel trays; custom sub sandwich and wrap assortments; custom sushi trays; custom cheese quartets; and create-your-own cakes and cupcakes.

Along with gluten-free diets, customers are also often planning for vegetarian or vegan guests.

Wegmans’ catering meu has a lot of starters and sides that are naturally vegetarian-friendly such as pretzel bites, vegetable trays, edamame, kale and quinoa cakes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, mashed potatoes, potatoes gratin, and salads. However, the menu goes an extra step by ensuring that there are vegetarian entrées full of flavor as well.

The sandwich options for custom trays include a Vegan Veggie Crunch, the assorted pinwheel tray includes a veggie pinwheel, the hot soup choices include a broccoli cheddar soup, the pasta menu offers macaroni and cheese or a penne with seasoned tomato sauce, and the Sushi Veggie Garden Tray has six different types of plant-based sushi rolls.

What makes a retail catering menu shine (1)Source:DD Images - stock.adobe.com

While a lot of retail stores and even sushi restaurants may have a couple of options, such as an avocado roll and a cucumber roll, Wegmans experiments with texture and flavor to create the following choices:

  • Garden Beet
  • Quinoa Brown Rice Garden Vegetable
  • Vegetable
  • Quinoa Brown Rice Vegetable
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber

Wegmans’ menu is also a great model by having a selection of foods with unique or luxury items while also including a plain version for consumers who are not interested in being that adventurous.

For example, some of the vegetarian items can also cater to people who want more traditional foods. In the pasta section, there is a lobster macaroni and cheese, but right next to it there is also a regular macaroni and cheese for children, people with a lobster allergy or people who just like things plain. For penne, there is an option with sausage and vodka sauce, and there is also the plain penne with a seasoned tomato sauce. For mashed potatoes, there are both sweet potato and plain choices.

What makes a retail catering menu shine (2)Source: koosen - stock.adobe.com

Lastly, when creating a catering menu, it is important to keep up with flavor trends. In a recent study, Chicago-based Datassential found that Asian flavors and ingredients will be one of the top 10 trends in 2023.

Wegmans’ catering menu not only offers a wide variety of sushi rolls and nigiri beyond the vegetarian choices, but it also features pork wontons, pork steamed buns, pan-seared pork potstickers and chicken teriyaki dumplings.

What makes a retail catering menu shine (2024)
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