What Is a Restaurant Catering Agreement?

Updated September 26, 2023
10 min read
What Is a Restaurant Catering Agreement?


There are a few things as exciting as venturing into a new business frontier, and when a restaurant decides to extend its services into catering, the thrill is palpable. However, to ensure that this new venture runs smoothly, having a solid foundation is paramount; this is where a restaurant catering agreement comes in.

From menu detailing, event date, and venue to pricing and payment terms, each aspect of the restaurant's catering service finds a place in this restaurant catering agreement. Consequently, it encourages effective communication between the restaurant and the client, mitigating the risk of misunderstandings. Explore the following sections of the article for a deep dive into the nuances of a restaurant catering agreement.

What Is the Restaurant Catering Agreement?

In the food industry, the restaurant catering agreement is a crucial document that serves as the foundation for service delivery and interaction between a restaurant providing catering services and its client. This professionally designed document clearly outlines the terms and conditions upon which the two parties will cooperate. Details such as the scope of the catering services, due dates, payment terms, and specific food and beverage menu items to be provided, among other responsibilities, are meticulously captured.

Moreover, the restaurant catering agreement isn't a one-size-fits-all document. It differs depending on the unique needs, nature, and size of an event. Whether the event is a private gathering, a corporate function, or a large-scale event like a wedding, each has its peculiarities that need to be addressed in the agreement. This essentially means that when drafting a catering agreement, restaurants must take into account all these factors to ensure that all pertinent details are covered, leaving no room for ambiguity. 

Why use a catering service agreement?

The importance of a restaurant catering agreement cannot be understated in the food industry. It acts as a binding contract that offers protection to both parties involved in the catering transaction. Imagine stepping into a major event without clear boundaries and expectations mapped out; conflict would inevitably arise.

In order to prevent such mishaps, a restaurant catering agreement becomes the guiding light, outlining payment terms, service expectations, cancellation policies, liability issues, and so on. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that disagreements escalate to legal disputes, an elaborately crafted agreement can help resolve these conflicts much faster, as it provides a reference to what was originally agreed upon.

The U.S law places great emphasis on legally binding agreements, and this is no different for the restaurant catering business. The presence of a restaurant catering agreement substantiates the commitment between the two parties, ensuring that all the service details are legally enforceable.

For instance, if a catering client in Texas fails to fulfill the payment terms as stated in the agreement, the restaurant is within its rights to seek legal redress based on this document. For any business entity, assuring that the legal side is well-attended is of utmost priority. Hence, consulting a business law professional while drafting your restaurant catering agreement is always advisable. 

What Are the Types of the Restaurant Catering Agreement?

When it comes to a restaurant catering agreement, different events require varying types of agreements due to their unique specifications and needs. A catering agreement for an office conference won't necessarily be the same as for a wedding or a birthday party. Lets see the different types of the catering agreement:

  • Wedding catering agreement: This agreement caters to wedding events, covering key details such as the menu, additional services like cake-cutting, and specific reception instructions.

  • Corporate event catering agreement: Tailored for corporate events like meetings and conferences, this agreement captures the professional ambiance and specific menu details typically associated with corporate functions.

  • Special event catering agreement: This is a versatile restaurant catering agreement designed for unique events, including birthdays, retirement parties, and fundraisers. It is customized according to the specific needs of these diverse events.

Remember, each type of restaurant catering agreement is designed to ensure the smooth execution and professional delivery of catering services suitable for the specific event type. To dig deeper into these various types of catering agreements and get a sense of how they appear, look at these contract templates from a reliable resource vendor, Lawrina.

What Is a Typical Catering Deposit?

A critical component of the restaurant catering agreement is the catering deposit, often referred to as the "retainer." It's a percentage of the total catering cost the client pays upfront when the agreement is made. This non-refundable deposit, typically within the range of 20-50% of the total cost, primarily secures the date and services of the catering company. With the deposit in place, the caterer can confidently begin planning and preparing for the event, assured that the client is genuinely committed to the agreement.

It's essential to outline the terms of the catering deposit clearly in the restaurant catering agreement. This includes the amount, when it is due, and conditions under which it may or may not be refundable. For instance, in the unfortunate event of a cancellation, the agreement should specify whether the deposit can be refunded in partial or full or not at all. Getting these details correctly logged in the catering agreement helps prevent future discrepancies that might arise regarding the initial deposit.

How To Make the Restaurant Catering Agreement?

The task of developing a restaurant catering agreement can seem daunting, but with the right steps, it can be effectively accomplished. The first thing to remember is that every great agreement starts with a clear understanding of both parties' requirements. In this case, comprehending the kind of support the client needs and balancing it with your restaurant's capabilities forms a good starting point. Additionally, it's paramount to be familiar with the catering industry standards and regulations to ensure the legality and credibility of your agreement.

You'll then want to proceed to the actual drafting of the catering agreement. You could start from scratch or use a professionally designed catering services agreement template as a jumping-off point. The restaurant catering service agreement template will typically have sections for each crucial detail, including service descriptions, payment terms, cancelation policy, etc. The beauty of such a template is the ease of customization. Remember, having an all-encompassing agreement is professional and saves you from many possible future disputes.

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What a Catering Agreement Should Include

A restaurant catering agreement is a crucial document for any catering business. It serves as a binding contract between the two parties involved, so it ought to be comprehensive, lucid, and detailed to ensure smooth operations. It's also important to mention that while one agreement may differ from another based on different circumstances, there are specific inclusions that should be present in most agreements.

In creating a restaurant catering agreement, here's what to consider:

  1. Parties involved: All parties in the agreement must be identified. This would typically include the official names of your restaurant and the client.

  2. Service description: This includes the number of attendees, menu items, and any special requests or customized offerings. This provides a blueprint of the service being offered.

  3. Payment terms: These include the total cost, deposit amount, due dates, and payment method. Transparency here helps avoid financial misunderstandings.

  4. Event details: Information such as the event's date, time, and location should be clearly stipulated. Special instructions or parking requirements can also be mentioned here.

  5. Cancellation policy: This includes information on the cancellation process, specifying whether deposits are refundable and under what conditions. It's important to bear in mind that unexpected cancellations can occur.

  6. Signatures: A restaurant catering agreement isn’t complete without all parties' signatures. After all, this is what makes the agreement binding.

A restaurant catering agreement should be as detailed and specific as possible to eliminate ambiguity and misunderstandings. Regardless, having a professional look over your agreement is always a good idea to ensure everything is covered.


In the vast expanse of the food industry, a restaurant catering agreement serves as a compass, guiding both parties toward a mutually beneficial working relationship. It acts as a roadmap, outlining the terms and expectations and ensuring these are adhered to by both parties. The result is a seamless operation where the caterer delivers impeccable service, and the client experiences a memorable event.

Moreover, a restaurant catering agreement is testimony to the professionalism of a restaurant's catering business. It proves that the establishment is diligent in rendering culinary services and considerate of their client's interests. From agreeing on service details and payment terms to settling unexpected hitches, a thorough restaurant catering agreement fortifies the relationship between the caterer and the client. Ultimately, a well-crafted agreement can be the linchpin that reinforces your restaurant's reputation and fosters its success in the catering industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a restaurant catering agreement important?

A restaurant catering agreement is a vital tool in the catering business as it provides a sense of security and certainty for both parties involved. For the restaurant, it enables them to fully comprehend the client's needs and expectations, preparing them adequately and preventing unfulfilled orders or services.


Equally, the client is assured of what to expect from the catering service. By signing the agreement, they are confident that the restaurant will carry out its duties as per the agreement's stipulations. In essence, a well-crafted restaurant catering agreement ensures a smooth operation, where every party knows their role and lives up to it. 


Is a restaurant catering agreement an agreement between a customer and a caterer?

A restaurant catering agreement is a legally binding agreement between a customer and a caterer (in this case, the restaurant providing the catering services). This agreement formally outlines the terms and conditions under which the caterer will provide specific catering services for an event.


Primarily, the agreement guarantees that the caterer will provide food, drink, and sometimes service staff for the client's event in return for payment. The agreement covers other important details such as the number of guests, the date and time of the event, and the type of food and amenities. By signing the restaurant catering agreement, the client and the caterer commit to fulfilling their respective responsibilities, ensuring the event's success.


What key elements should be included in a restaurant catering agreement?

The first thing to note is that all restaurant catering agreements are different. However, they often share similar elements. Important components include the parties involved, service description, payment terms, details of the event, and the cancellation policy. Completing the document are the signatures of both parties, which juridically bind them to the agreement.


Further, each restaurant catering agreement should be detailed enough to cover all aspects relevant to the catering service. It should effectively capture the unique requirements of each event.