4 Key Components to Consider When Choosing Between Professional Catering and Restaurant Delivery

You have more food options for your events than ever before because restaurants are expanding their catering abilities. Eastern shore caterers like The Smokehouse Grill have been serving life’s biggest events for years and provide high caliber food just like your favorite restaurant. How do you choose between these two options for catering to your next events? We’ll show you.

At their core, they both provide food for various events, whether it be a wedding or a corporate lunch. However, this is where the similarities between the two tend to end. That’s why we’ve created a simple guide comparing the two services, which will lead us to our decision over which one is best suited for special events such as weddings or corporate events.

Our Key Considerations & Decision Makers:

  • Training and Preparedness
  • Food Safety and Transportation
  • Amount of Menu Options Provided
  • Additional Services Offered (If Any)

Training: Who Are the Professionals? Who Are the Amateurs?

shore catering

Catering companies are built and designed for - well, catering! As a result, every chef, server, bartender, and manager has perfected the art of catering and event planning from their specialized training. They are equipped to handle any crisis or roadblock that you might handle during your event.

On the other hand, restaurants who perform deliveries are not always as prepared or equipped for events of every caliber like weddings or corporate events. They do not have equipment that allows them to cook food onsite or trained servers and managers to assist customers.

If you reserve an on-premise restaurant event service, meaning you host the event at the restaurant itself, you aren’t guaranteed the full attention of the wait staff. They will have to juggle your party along with the rest of its dining room.
However, there are some benefits to hosting your event at a restaurant. You will have a private banquet room for yourself and the wait staff will be in charge of serving and cleaning up the food and dishes. With this stress off your shoulders, you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying the event rather than worrying about its logistics.

Food Safety: Who Can Provide the Freshest Food?

chef plating

Whenever possible, catering companies prepare food on-site. This ensures the freshness and tastefulness of the food. Most restaurants, however, are not equipped to cook on-site. They will usually cook the food in their own kitchens before packing them up and delivering them to the event site.


Transporting food in a van will inevitably lead it to be jostled around as it is exposed to different temperatures during the ride. Food may need to be reheated, which can cause it to become overcooked. This is why most catering companies tend to work on-site. Smokehouse Grill, for instance, always cooks their complete menu ranging from casual BBQ to Filet mignon and jumbo lump crab cakes on location. Their primary goal is to provide fresh-tasting food to guests, and will, therefore, avoid pre-cooking food and packaging it whenever possible.

Menu Options: Who Gives You the Most Freedom?

table display of catered appetizers

Some restaurants may limit their menu due to fewer resources and busy kitchen staff. Need to include gluten-free pasta or tortilla chips? Some restaurants can’t do this as they are not always able to accommodate dietary restrictions.
Catering companies are able to be a bit more flexible with menu options, and the right ones will properly tailor their food options to accommodate guests with food allergies. They can also sit down with you to help you decide on the perfect menu for the occasion. Some caterers, like Smokehouse Grill, may even have pre-set menus to go off of for events such as:

  • Corporate events
  • Wedding receptions
  • Retirement parties

They may even provide specialized beer, wine, and liquor services, such as a cash bar offering a large selection of premium beer, liquor, and wine or a more limited package providing a small menu of beer and wine. The Smokehouse Grill offers affordable alcohol packages that can fit any budget, with the lowest option coming in at $12 per person.   

Bonus Section: Who Provides Additional Services?

At Smokehouse Grill, our event planning and equipment rental can be customized to help you set up, break down, and decorate—allowing you to spend more time enjoying your special event and less time stressing about it. However, restaurant delivery services will usually just drop the food off to you, leaving it up to you to set it up and take it down. They also do not provide extra items for rent that may be useful for your event.
Smokehouse Grill, for instance, provides rentals such as:

  • Tents, tables, dance floors, chairs, linens, china, flatwares, glassware
  • Portable power, restroom trailers
  • Tap trailers

This may be helpful for you if you are trying to lower the number of vendors to work with for your event.

The Final Verdict

While simple restaurant delivery is a perfectly fine option for a casual gathering or a family night in, it isn’t as equipped to handle larger, more complicated events like full-service catering companies.
If you’re interested in hiring eastern shore caterers for your next event, contact one of our team members at Smokehouse Grill, a premier catering company that serves the Mid-Atlantic region.