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20 Chicago Corporate Catering Ideas

Corporate catering in Chicago can be fun just as easily as it can be professional and effective.  Sometimes, fun and unique corporate catering ideas are just what a company or group needs to get productive.

There are many occasions in the corporate world that require catering:  meetings, seminars, conferences, workshops, employee appreciation days, rewards and ceremonies…the list is truly endless.

Below, you will find 20 of our favorite corporate catering Ideas for Chicago, or for any other city out there.  These suggestions will include corporate catering menus, corporate event catering ideas, corporate catering for large companies or small, and corporate catering tips for Chicago and elsewhere.

Chicago Corporate Catering Tips and Ideas

Our best corporate catering tips and ideas have been broken down into categories to help you better plan for your next Chicago corporate event, meeting or conference.

Unique Corporate Catering Menu Ideas

Collage of photos including avocado in a bowl, box lunches and butter cookies

  • 1) Host a build-your-own bar.  This bar can be anything from baked potatoes to tacos to hot dogs or more.  A build-your-own bar is exciting for guests because it allows customization even on a delivery drop-off, so it is a win for both you and the guests.
  • 2) Create an international menu.  If you are looking for something different to order for your guests, try an ethnic-inspired menu like Asian, Polish, Hawaiian or German food.
  • 3) Feature Chicago-style hot dogs.  Most Chicagoans get excited over a Chicago-style hot dog.  This will be a fun lunch break for your guests.
  • 4) Order a display of appetizers.  Give your guests a pseudo-upscale experience with a nice display of finger foods and other appetizers.  Ask to have the hot and cold appetizers set up in two different locations for a nice contrast and reason to get up and move.
  • 5) Provide lunch on-the-go.  Order nicely packaged boxed lunches to leave a good impression on even the tightest of lunch breaks.
  • 6) Treat them to a picnic.  If you have a busy day ahead of you but would still like to treat guests to something special, especially during the summer months, treat them to an indoor picnic with all of the picnic bells and whistles in the quick comfort of your meeting or break room.
  • 7) Mix up the beverages.  Instead of just offering standard soda and water at your meeting, ask your caterer to create a special punch or juice (non-alcoholic) with fresh fruits and other special garnishes.  This is a small yet noteworthy detail that will show your guests how much their presence means to your event or meeting.
  • 8) Have a dessert happy hour.  End your event or meeting with your favorite desserts from childhood, such as ice cream bars, make-your-own sundae bars, root beer floats and more.

Corporate Catering Theme Ideas

bartender pouring martinis

  • 9) Make it green.  Cater with a green corporate catering company for a reassurance to your group that you care about how the group’s food is prepared, delivered and disposed of.
  • 10) Have a health-conscious menu.  Order catering made from locally-sourced food options with high levels of nutritional value.
  • 11) Host a cocktail hour.  As a reward for a job well done, host a cocktail hour following the afternoon meeting.  This gives guests something to work toward and to look forward to at the end of the day.  Plus, it allows some bonding time which will help increase productivity levels for the next time the group meets.

Corporate Catering Planning Tips

Coffee bar set up for a meeting

  • 12) Use round tables.  When you can, provide an eating area that uses round tables so that your guests can all participate in conversation together.
  • 13) Cover your tables.  Some catering companies do not provide table covers with their deliveries. Tasty Catering will always provide table covers so that the buffet looks nice and your tables and counters stay clean.
  • 14) Utilize menu cards/boards.  Need your guests to move through the buffet line quicker?  Some caterers provide menu cards with every order (see: Tasty), but in case they do not, be sure to request them.  In fact, you should receive labels on all boxed lunches as well for even more efficiency.
  • 15) Put the food breaks on the agenda.  Publicize when (and where) your guests are going to be enjoying lunch to eliminate repeat questions, provide detailed information and help reduce the amount of people looking around in anticipation of lunch hour.
  • 16) Always order coffee.  Even if your food break is at an awkward, non-traditional coffee time, get coffee.  Your guests will not think anything of it if there is coffee, but they will definitely notice if it is missing—and not in a good way.

Special Attention Corporate Catering

Businessmen having coffee and pastries

  • 17) Provide a power break.  If you are planning a longer meeting, or a meeting that takes place between meals, provide a pick-me-up in the form of a power break, such as coffee, fruit, pastries, bars, yogurt and granola.
  • 18) Give attention to dietary restrictions.  Order a variety of foods that satisfy some of the more popular dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and organic.  Be sure to ask for labels for the buffet or individual special lunches.  This will give your other, non-diet restricted guests a chance to try something new.
  • 19) Provide a morning break.  Mid-morning is notorious for lulling people to sleep.  When you incorporate a break—and also provide snacks, tea and coffee, you have a better chance of making that time between mid-morning and lunch a productive time.
  • 20) Label your waters.  Ask your caterer to print branded labels for your water bottles any time you’re meeting with potential or current clients.  This is a great way to get them to bring something home with your name on it.


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