While traditional caterers provide food service for functions such as weddings, business meetings, parties and conferences, creative caterers serve niche markets. If you are starting a catering business, or looking to expand a current one, niche catering can help you develop customized services that appeal to certain target markets. Although not as numerous as mainstream catering opportunities, niche catering can set you apart from your catering industry competitors.
Tailgate parties started out as sports fans gathering around their vehicles for a bite to eat before a game and recently have become sophisticated culinary events. Although universities prohibit alcohol at tailgate parties, some college sports enthusiasts compensate by preparing elaborate spreads. Specializing in tailgate parties allows you to create food presentations based on the sports teams in your area. You can also seek a license to set up a mobile catering unit in the venue or in the nearby parking lot.
For busy parents, a caterer can be a lifesaver when it comes to a child's birthday party. You can develop menus that appeal to children and arrange theme parties that include decorations, food and gifts. You could even offer games as an additional service.
Restaurants stops are typically part of a long bus trip. You could provide picnic-style lunches for participants to eat on the bus or cater bus tour destination events hosted by tour operators.
Theaters host catered receptions on opening night and for special VIP events such as fundraisers. Some theaters occasionally provide dinner, even though they may not be specific dinner theaters. As a niche caterer, you can develop menus to match performances for those theaters interested in offering food before, during or after shows.
Chartered boats and mini cruises can provide lucrative niche catering opportunities. Such cruises offer food service as an added value -- especially for sunset cruises and cruises that last more than four hours. Catering opportunities can vary from simple snacks to champagne brunches and elaborate dinners.
Vegetarian cuisine continues to grow as a niche market for caterers. Some catering companies market vegetarian menus exclusively. Vegan catering, for those who do not eat animal products of any kind, can be a viable niche that allows you to create unusual menu items.
Tea parties can be a niche market for caterers interested in learning about teas, tea party etiquette and tea service ware. Potential tea party catering clients include social groups, book clubs, nonprofits, museums and historical societies. Typical tea party events include birthday parties, spa events and fundraisers.
As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.