As a hospitality professional, you may be working shifts as a banquet server. Setting up for a banquet is a big job, and can be a challenge if you don’t know where to start. This guide will walk you through a comprehensive banquet set-up checklist to ensure no detail is overlooked.
From setting tables to prepping garnishes for the bar, there are lots of steps that go into setting up for a banquet. Read on to learn about steps you won’t want to miss when helping set up your next event!
Banquet Setup Checklist
Let’s dive into all the necessary steps you will need to complete before an event begins.
- Set out chairs and chair covers
Assuming tables are already in place, the first thing on this banquet set-up checklist is setting out chairs. The number of chairs per table will depend on the guest count and the size/shape of the tables:
- A 60” round table can comfortably seat 8 people.
- A 72” round table can comfortably seat 10 people.
- A 42” square table can comfortably seat 8 people.
- A 60” square table can seat up to 12 people.
- A 30” x 72” rectangular table can comfortably seat 6 to 8 people.
- A 30” x 96” rectangular table can comfortably seat 8 to 10 people.
Once you have the appropriate number of seats at each table, ensure the spacing between each chair is even and allows for comfortable seating. There should be at least 18” between the edge of the table and the back of the chair, 24” between chairs sideways (hello, elbow room), and at least 30” between the chair and anything behind it. If the host ordered chair covers, now is the time to put those on as well.
- Set tables and decorations
Next, it’s time to set the tables with tablecloths, table numbers, silverware, napkins, plates, and water and wine glasses. If the meal is pre-plated, you will skip the plates for the place setting. Can’t remember exactly where everything goes? Fear not. These helpful diagrams will jog your memory, from casual lunch place settings to formal dinners. You may also need to set out place cards with the names of guests or other decorations if requested by the event’s host.
- Prepare the bar
If bar service is included at the event, you’ll need to prepare the bar. First, it’s important to clean and sanitize the counters, then ensure that the glassware is clean and polished with no dust or smudges. Next, cut up garnishes you’ll want to have handy such as lime and orange wedges and store them in the fridge until the event starts. You will need to fill the ice bin as well and restock disposable items like straws and napkins. Finally, do a check to ensure that you have everything you need stocked and ready to go. You can also set out a tip jar at this time for guests to use.
- Set up the coffee station (if applicable)
If the establishment you’re working at has a coffee station, you can set that up so it’s ready when guests arrive. Ensure the coffee urns and/or espresso machines are clean, check the fridge to see if you have enough milk and creamer, and set out sugar and sugar substitutes. Make sure there are enough mugs or disposable cups ready for guests who would like coffee.
- Ensure food prep is on schedule
If you are a banquet server, and not a chef or prep cook, you won’t be cooking the meal for the event. Even so, it’s a good idea to check in on the kitchen staff to ensure everything is running smoothly and on schedule before guests arrive.
- Set up the buffet (if applicable)
For buffet-style events, you will need to set up the buffet tables with the necessary equipment. You may set out serving dishes/bowls, chafing dishes, warming trays, and more depending on the menu for the event. Put cold dishes out first and then move on to hot dishes towards the end of the buffet tables. Right before the event, when the food is ready, you and the cooks can place the food in the chafing dishes to keep it hot.
- Last-minute checks
As the event approaches, you will want to make some last-minute checks. Ensure that trash cans are empty and have new liners in them. Also, check that the coffee urns are full, hot, and ready to go. Get the milk and creamer out of the refrigerator and ready to use. Light the chafing dish fuel burners, set out the food, and lastly turn on any uplighting or other specialty lights to really set the scene.
Then, wait for guests to arrive and be wowed by the beautiful presentation you helped set up. We’re sure you’ll do a fantastic job. Keep this banquet set-up checklist top of mind for the next time you’re working a banquet event to go in with confidence and ensure you stay on top of everything!
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