Chapter 4

Setting the Room

For many, it is the design and set-up of the dining area which provides the greatest impact to the guests and the biggest sense of creative expression to the caterer. Indeed, setting an elegant room can make an impression that can last for many banquets to come. But setting a room properly, particularly when the size of the party gets much beyond a couple hundred, can also be more challenging than one may first suspect. Putting together a dining area which makes the best possible impact, while keeping the room serviceable, and more importantly, not wasting all your profit margin on set-up, is a task that requires good planning and years of experience.


Buffet design and set-up can be one of the most creative and impressive aspects of catering. It can also be costly, time-consuming and confusing. We will discuss several techniques for managing the buffet set-up process. Remember that within any plan, your food should always remain the primary focus.

1. Using Diagrams
Almost all banquet operations make use of diagrams when mapping out a room set-up. Diagrams are extremely useful tools when communicating your plans to your clients and your service staff. Many operations have drawings of their most common table sets (with numbers or labels), to speed up the planning process. There is plenty of software available to make the diagramming process fast, fun and efficient. Once the actual table drops are finalized, one can arrow in the exact locations to place the food. Remember that the table design flows from what is on the menu, and the table location flows from the room in which they are set, the number of guests, the timing of their arrival and departure, and the actual inventory of table shapes available. It is wise to know exactly how many of each type of table is available for a specific function. Standard Banquet Tables

Never lose sight of functionality (FLOW!). Always walk the table set in your mind as though you were the guest. Be sure everything flows logically and naturally. Addendum 2 shows the dimensions of the basic banquet tables you will find in your inventory. Addenda 3 and 4 show examples of room layout and individual buffet diagrams.

2. Creative Elements
Once you have determined the table locations , their shapes, and some sense of where the food will be placed, you will use your creative ability to create a stage on which to do feature your food. Listed below are some of the most common techniques in bringing to fruition creative designs.

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