September 27, 2016

Kosher Caterers and Bedside Manners

It is no secret that the kosher catering business of all types and sizes is booming. Some caterers have more than doubled their business in just the last 2-5 years. Several caterers I spoke to said that they have never been busier, with some talking about bookings into 2018. Sales to caterers and other foodservice establishments is now believed to be almost 40% of annual kosher food sales in the US. The standards for kosher catering has also changed with so much of it going upscale. The quality of the food and the presentation have dramatically improved. Competition nowadays is based not only on price but on the overall creativity of putting together the menu and significantly, the presentation.

What is troubling is that this success, at least to many customers I have spoken to, has literally gone to the heads of some of the caterers. Here is a business that deals with customers who are extremely stressed out about their upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah, wedding or Sheva Brachos. They need a patient and understanding caterer who will not fly off the handle when the customer asks a question, will return a phone call as soon as possible (and not a week later), who does not speak gibberish so that the customer is not faced with surprises when the bill arrives, and in general treats the customer with respect as any customer of any business deserves to be. In the medical field this would be called “bedside manners.” And while I take a moment to admonish the bad apples, I also wish to offer kudos to the many caterers who understand the proper way to treat customers and in general help give the industry a good name.