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Catering Agreement

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Updated Oct 16, 2023
~ 7 pages
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A catering agreement is a specific type of service agreement whereby one entity, the caterer, contracts to perform catering services at a respective event(s) for the other entity, the client. Catering agreements are often used by caterers and their clients to document engagements. Create your professional catering agreement in minutes on Lawrina and get a complete PDF document.
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Template Description

Paper titled "Catering Agreement"; woman with a notepad holding her thumb up; waiter holding a tray of glasses; table served with appetizers and beverages

A typical catering agreement includes information about the parties, events, services, menus, pricing, cancellation, and more. Lawrina’s customizable catering agreement template is available for either the caterer or the client to use for most basic catering requests. The document outlines the details of the agreement and authorizes certain catering service adjustments. Before signing the legally binding agreement, however, both parties must agree to the terms they have included.

What Is a Catering Agreement?

When a caterer and a customer enter into a formal agreement, both parties are legally bound to its terms. The catering agreement will list the purpose of and framework for the catering services. The details are spelled out in the contract, and proper wording can be found in this sample catering agreement. The signatures at the bottom ensure that both parties agree to the terms. 

Having a solid catering agreement in place is important for catered events like weddings, office parties, and other get-togethers. A catering agreement form often includes information specific to the event, such as the menu, price, and payment method.

Parties of the Catering Agreement

People or groups that work together to provide catering services are the main parties of a catering agreement. Typically, there are two primary parties:

  1. The caterer: This party is in charge of putting together, transporting, and serving the agreed food and beverages for the event. The caterer can offer extra services, including setting up the event and providing serving personnel and tools. The caterer must provide the services that the parties agreed to in the terms and conditions set out in the catering agreement. 

  2. The customer/client: A customer is the individual or business representative who orders and pays for the catering services. Before hiring a caterer, the client must know what meals, event planning, and other services the event will require.

Key Terms

The following key terms will generally be found in a catering agreement:

  1. Party information — Names, addresses, and phone numbers for both the caterer and the customer must be included.

  2. Event details — The most important details include the time and place of the event, the event type (wedding, business meeting, birthday party, etc.), and the guest count.

  3. Services — Menus, serving methods, and any extras that come with the catering service must be described clearly.

  4. Costs and payment terms — Included in this section will be the price of catering in full, a timetable for making payments, and acceptable payment methods. An itemized breakdown of the costs may also be included.

  5. Details on the menu — A list of the menu items for the event (starters, main courses, desserts, etc.), requirements for any restricted diets, and preparation and styling of the food should be added.

  6. Cancelation policy — List the requirements for cancellation by either party and any refund and/or cancellation procedures.

  7. Client responsibilities — Itemize what the client needs to do, such as provide enough space, utilities, parking, and guest lodging for the event.

  8. Termination clause — How and when can either party end the catering agreement? What will happen if either party terminates the agreement?

  9. Liability and insurance — Indemnification clauses help to cover damages and losses. Liability insurance requirements should also be listed, including which party is responsible for acquiring the policy.

  10. Signatures — Signature spaces for both the client and the caterer must be provided for each party to show agreement to the terms of the contract.

Who Should Use a Catering Agreement?

Any individual, organization, or business involved in arranging or providing catering services for an event can benefit from using a contract in catering agreement format to formalize the terms and conditions of the catering arrangements. The following individuals or groups generally should use a standard catering agreement:

  1. Event planners — Event managers who serve food and drinks will generally have catering deals. Using a catering agreement form makes it easier to make deals with food service providers. 

  2. Cafeterias and restaurants — A restaurant owner or manager can benefit greatly from using a catering agreement and catering schedule template. This type of document will include sections to help the parties discuss and determine timing in relation to the food. The parties can negotiate the cost and maintain transparency in the important issues.

  3. Venues — Managers of venues can use catering agreements to set up the terms of service for their renters with catering partners.

  4. Food trucks and mobile caterers — Mobile food vendors and temporary caterers can benefit from using catering agreements to set up food plans for specific clients on special occasions.

  5. Educational institutions — An educational institution may use a catering planning template to arrange for food services for large-scale events, such as graduation ceremonies, conferences, and other campus events.

  6. Nonprofit organizations — Many nonprofit organizations use catering agreements to plan a charity event with sufficient food and drinks for potential donors.

What Is Included In a Catering Agreement?

A catering deal between a client and a caterer will include information about how food will be served at a party or event. The document also tells the caterer the client’s requirements and rules for the location. The following parts and features are usually included in a catering agreement:

Provision of Food and Services

This section in a catering agreement will contain the following necessary information: 

  • Available menu options with customized meal selections

  • Service options, which may include buffet service or a plated service

  • Options for how to serve, decorate, and arrange the food

  • The timing for the food service

  • Any updates and extras

Event Details

An important part of any modifiable catering agreement template is the section for the event details, which can include:

  • When the event will start and end

  • When the service crew should arrive

  • The type of event

  • The number of guests expected to attend and the number of guests who require special menus or service

The Menu for the Event

The client and caterer will decide on the meal plan and include the menu for the event in the relevant section of the catering agreement. A few important points to mention include:

  • The total number of servings

  • The cost of the meals

  • The desired presentation of each dish

All of the information in a catering agreement is important for making sure that the client’s catering needs will be met.

Leftover Food and Drinks

Typically, a catering agreement template will have a section that focuses on how the event will wrap up, including:

  • When clients can keep the leftover food and when the caterer must dispose of the food

  • Any additional charges for leftover food

  • How to pack and ship leftover food to the client

  • How to keep leftover food safe for the client at the end of the event

Additional Items or Services

The section for additional items and services in the catering agreement form describes all of those services and their prices, such as:

  • Adding equipment rental

  • Allowing clients to express their wishes and pay for themed meals or décor

  • Reducing errors by notifying the caterer and customer about the purchased items and their pricing

Payment Schedule and Fees

All costs of the catering service will be broken down in the catering agreement template in detail, including the following:

  • An in-depth plan of the payment schedule with fees, partial payments, and the final payment

  • Acceptable methods of payment, such as cash, credit cards, or other methods

Insurance

Any type of event could result in damage or an accident, and liability insurance might be listed as a requirement in the catering agreement form. The catering deal will describe these requirements in detail, including:

  • Information about the policy, the name and policy number of the insurance company and the minimum amount of coverage

  • The party responsible in case of damages, showing how important it is to follow the insurance company’s rules

Health and Safety Standards

As part of a sample catering agreement, the parties will usually include the local health and safety requirements they have to follow while making, handling, and serving food. Other points this section may mention include:

  • That caterers may need to use authorized commercial kitchens and engage skilled staff for food handling

  • The health and safety rules specific to the event or location

Cancellation Clause

A catering agreement’s cancellation clause specifies the terms and circumstances for cancellation. This section of a catering agreement template should clarify the following:

  • Unexpected issues or natural disasters that warrant cancellation

  • The notification deadline, such as one week or twenty-four hours, depending on the type and size of the event

  • Penalties for cancellation by either party after the deadline

  • Any duties for each party in the event of cancellation

How To Write a Catering Agreement?

Consider the factors below when downloading a printable blank catering agreement. The final contract must outline the service agreements and safeguard the caterer and the client. Follow these steps for filling out a catering agreement template:

  1. Use a sample catering agreement as a guide.

  2. Add the date the agreement is being made.

  3. Include the caterer’s and the client’s full name, address, and phone number.

  4. Describe the requested service.

  5. Include details about the event, such as the date of the event, the location of the event, the type of event, and the number of people expected to attend.

  6. List the food and drinks that will be served. Also list which service is desired (buffet, plates, etc.) and any other services that will be offered, such as equipment rental or wait staff.

  7. Itemize the menu items with costs and any limits on quantity. Consult an example of catering agreements to better understand what should be included in this step.

  8. Add a schedule for the catering crew’s arrival and departure, including prep time, service times (start and finish), and cleanup time. 

  9. If alcoholic drinks will be served, list which beverages will be served, the price and number of each if available, and which party will be responsible for providing them (the caterer or the customer).

  10. Include indemnification terms and check liability insurance coverage in case of an accident or damage.

  11. Add the negotiated fees and terms.

  12. Clearly note the client’s responsibilities, such as acquiring the venue permits, equipment rental, and space.

  13. State when and how either party can end the deal and what penalties may apply.

  14. List the total cost of the catering service, the payment terms, and the accepted payment methods.

  15. Make sure that the document contains all relevant details, is easy to understand, and is complete. Consult an attorney if you want help making sure the agreement will be legally binding.

  16. Specify the jurisdiction that will have legal authority over this contract.

  17. Include space in the catering agreement form for both the client and the caterer to sign after they have reviewed the document.

Does a Caterer Always Need to Write a Catering Agreement?

Insight

A catering agreement form is not required, but it is strongly recommended in most circumstances. Using a catering agreement is good practice for caterers to run their businesses for a number of reasons, including:

  1. Clients are more likely to agree to the terms and conditions of a catering arrangement if they are presented in writing.
  2. When a caterer uses a customizable catering agreement template, the caterer can free up time for other aspects of the business.
  3. A written catering agreement shows that the catering company will be professional and committed to providing quality service.
  4. The caterer will have more peace of mind with a written agreement because the client has agreed to pay according to the contract.

When To Use a Catering Agreement

If you have any upcoming events that might need catering service, then a catering agreement should be used. The document helps to make deals with caterers clear and protect the interests of both parties. For any event that needs catering services, having a formal contract between the caterer and the client can help to ensure a successful event.

Common Use Cases

Some of the most common use cases for using a catering agreement include the following:

  • When planning a wedding, the client and the caterer can record all the necessary details in the catering agreement. Use a wedding catering contract example to make sure all relevant terms are addressed.

  • When planning a corporate event, a catering deal helps the client communicate to the caterer what kind of food and service is desired.

  • When throwing a catered party, a basic catering contract can help both the caterer and the client clearly understand their duties and expectations.

  • When booking venues for special events, customers can review catering contracts samples to aid in the process of selecting caterers.

  • When planning free or paid food for a charity dinner or benefit, the contract prevents misunderstandings.

  • When hiring food trucks and mobile food businesses, the parties should have contracts to spell out all the details.

  • When schools plan events like graduations and workshops, they may use these contracts.

  • When cafeterias, restaurants, or other places serve food for events, they generally use catering contracts forms to list their meals, costs, and procedures for serving on- or off-site.

When Not To Use the Catering Agreement

In some cases, having a verbal agreement can be all that is required. For instance:

  • A catering agreement may not be required if you are holding a small casual event with minimal catering requirements (e.g., a potluck).

  • You will not need a formal contract if you want to make and serve the meal yourself rather than using a professional caterer. 

  • Most casual family parties do not need catering contracts.

Legal Disclaimer

Please note that Lawrina does not provide any legal services. The information on Lawrina’s Site and its downloadable content, including legal articles and templates, shall not be considered legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, and up-to-date. If you require legal advice on your issue, we recommend you contact a qualified attorney licensed in your state. You personally assume full responsibility for any consequences, damages, and costs associated with your use of any content of Lawrina Services available on Lawrina’s Site.

By using Lawrina’s Site you agree with mentioned above and give your irrevocable consent to comply with and to be bound by the provisions of Lawrina Service terms. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can catering deposits be refunded?

Deposits for catering can be refunded in full, in part, or not at all, depending on the catering company and what is stated in the company’s catering agreement template. Each caterer has a distinct approach to giving money back, which should be written in the contract. The agreement should tell the client how to get a return and how much can be returned based on the time and circumstances of cancellation. Before you sign a contract, be sure to read and understand all the details, including the refund policy. When you contract catering companies, be sure to ask any questions you have about their return policies.

What should my clients consider before hiring a caterer?

Before hiring a caterer and signing a catering service agreement for your event, consider the following:

  • Set a firm budget for the whole package and the cost per person.
  • Think about how many people will be attending. Caterers need this information to determine how many portions to have and how much food to make.
  • Make sure the caterer can provide the desired service and food.
  • Read reviews and ask people for recommendations when looking to hire a competent caterer. Also, go through some catering contract examples to develop a better understanding of what will be included in the agreement.
  • If possible, attend trial events featuring your top candidates to experience the quality of their food and service.
  • Carefully, read the terms and conditions of the catering agreement before signing, including the price, payment timeline, and cancellation policy.
  • Ask potential caterers if they have the necessary permits and insurance to serve in your area.
  • Make sure the caterer is flexible enough for your needs and responds to communications within a reasonable time.
  • Make sure the catering company’s timing for setting up, serving, and cleaning up matches your schedule. Ask for a service level agreement for catering. 
Why can't a verbal catering agreement suffice?

Even though it may seem simple, a verbal agreement will not be sufficient enough for important events for at least the following reasons:

  • When two people make a verbal deal, they might not remember exactly what they said. Putting it in writing can prevent confusion about important facts.
  • Verbal deals may not be legally binding. At the least, they can make it more difficult to settle disagreements.
  • A signed catering agreement shows that the caterer is professional and committed to giving great service at formal parties and business events.
  • A signed contract can protect each party’s interests in case of unplanned events by including cancellation clauses and explaining who is responsible for what.