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Catering and Alcohol Service

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When considering food and beverages and working with a catering company, keep in mind the following considerations:

  • What is your food and beverage budget? What type of deposit is required if any?
    • Many departments have a per diem cap for meals you will need to consider. You should obtain at least three competitive bids for expenditures greater than $1,500.
  • Does your venue have a list of approved caterers?
    • It is important to inquire with your venue manager before booking catering as some venues on campus may require the use of specific approved vendors for their facility. Not all catering companies are approved for all facilities on campus.
  • Where on-site will you serve refreshments and food? Will service be tray passed, a seated dinner or buffet?
    • Be specific about the services you expect to be performed (i.e. floral and table arrangements, staffing, tables/chairs/linens, etc.)
    • Set up an appointment with the caterer for an on-site walk-through, especially if they or you are unfamiliar with the venue.
  • Who will select the menu? Are there dietary restrictions? Will you be serving alcohol?
    • If you plan to serve alcohol, review all relevant policies, both university-wide and for the facility you are using. Also be aware of the liability issues surrounding service of alcohol.
  • Confirm all details in writing.

Permits and Insurance

You will need to obtain the proper permits and licenses if you plan to sell or distribute food at an event that is open to the public. Review the Food and Beverage Permits policy page.

In addition to the having permits, you are also responsible for making sure that any vendors you hire are properly insured. Review the Standard Insurance Requirements policy.

Alcohol service

If you plan to serve alcohol at your event, you must follow all university alcohol policies, as well as all federal, state and local laws. In most cases, you will need to obtain a license to serve alcohol at your event. You should also be aware of liability issues surrounding service of alcohol at university events. Catering and beverage service companies will need to provide proof of insurance in the form of a certificate of insurance (COI). Specifics about the requirements, liability and the process to obtain an alcohol license is outlined in the Alcohol Service and Licensing Requirements policy.

Mobile food trucks and booths

Mobile food vendors must follow university guidelines for licensing and insurance outlined on the Business Affairs website. Food trucks must be arranged through Off the Grid. Review the Mobile Food Trucks and Vendors policy for more information and planning tips.

Catering Guide

Check out our Catering Guide for a list of on-campus and approved off-campus caterers to consider for your next event.