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Nov 6, 2008 08:01 PM

Middle Eastern catering for a fundraiser?


My friends and I are starting to plan our annual fundraiser. Our organization is very small & grassroots--just a collection of friends, not throwing any splashy galas yet as this is only our 3rd year of existence. Thus...we don't have an unlimited budget but we want something delicious!

I've already written to one Turkish caterer for prices, but would also like to gather board opinions. Out of places like the Family Store, Sally & George's, Sahadi's, Waterfalls, etc...has anyone had good luck getting a bargain? And does Damascus Bakery cater? I saw an older post saying the Family Store catered for 12 people for $200, which stunned me a bit...we're aiming for at least 200 people. Another post listed Family Store at $10 per head, which is more reasonable (although that post was not a rave).

Should I assume that we will have to pick up the food ourselves? It seems from older posts most people were talking about smaller parties, where picking it up yourself makes sense. We might only have one car available for all this food.

I was hoping the shops would be cheaper than restaurants and dedicated catering outfits, but is that wrong? Sahadi's catering menu has spinach pies for $2, which is the same as just buying them at the counter at Damascus. If the places don't deliver and don't bargain, I do wonder if we might as well only buy the items that each place excels at.

OK, sorry for the length...any thoughts appreciated!

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  1. We had Sally and George's cater a party for us this past May. We had a nice arary of spinach pies, hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouleh, chicken and rice, kafta and a few other things. Plenty fo food for 25 people at a total cost of under $300. George was a pleasure to work with and the food was very close to my wife's mom's cooking (she's Lebanese). I would definitely recommend them.

    You DO have to pick up the stuff yourself, but they will give you the containers and sternos to keep the food hot.

    We also looked at Family Store. But, they weren't as responsive to us (never sent us a menu despite repeated requests for them to do so) and it was more expensive, so we opted for S and G. Also, looked at Tanoreen, but it was WAY more expensive.

    The only down side to S and G was their desserts. I would suggest Damascus, as you mentioned but don't know if they deliver.

    Hope this helps.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jdf

      Thanks! I also emailed Gullouglu, but as I've never planned catering like this before, I wasn't sure the appropriate way to say "so, I see you list prices-per-pound for baklava on your that set in stone?" Sort of hemmed and hawed...hope they understand.

      I also checked on Arayssi's site but it was sort of confusing...they list the price-per-pound for baklava & other desserts but then give a number of pieces per large tray or small tray. Useful to know number of pieces, but how many pounds is that? Oh well. That will teach me to suddenly want to start planning a menu at midnight.

      1. re: NancyC

        Give a call. They should be able to tell you how much you need based on how many people you are having. Have heard good things about Arayssi, but have never tried.

    2. Try Fez Moroccan on Prospect Park West, I believe they may do catering.

      1. I like the Family Store's food, but Sally & George's does a good job as well.
        There is a Turkish place somewhere around 86th St and Bay P'kway but I cannot think of the name. They've done some business lunch catering for us and it was pretty reasonable ( Less tthan S&G's and the Family Store) and very good. Perhaps another 'Hound will post the name.
        If you're ordering a lot don't be afraid to bargain. In this financial environment, most vendors are very happy for any business and will be willing to work with you.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tay

          In my line of work it's easy to think bulk = cheap but i've been thinking that making 3 lbs of borek is much more of a pain than 1 lb, that it might not work the same way for food. But we'll see...might try to do some face-to-face inquires tomorrow.

          1. re: NancyC

            Ingredient costs are what they are. It;'s more of a time/labor issue and with modern kitchen equipment that's not much of an issue anymore. Caterers are business people just like any other buisness owners, they are trying to earn a living. If they sense you are unsure or easily influenced, they're more likely to set a price that earns them the most profit. If you appear to be a savvy shopper and politely let them know you're comparison shopping for a non profit event, you will do much better..As an added bonus,you are seeking Middle Eastern food and bargaining is part of the Middle Eastern culture and considered perfectly acceptable. If you are a registered, non profit you should be able to save on any tax as well.
            Good luck.

        2. Tanoreen in Bay Ridge does catering, and I don't think I've had better Middle Eastern food in NY.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Peter Cherches

            Yes, they are very good. But, the OP mentioned price as a concern. As I noted in my post above, they are WAY more expensive for catering than the other places she is considering. So, if she felt that Family Store was too expensive at about $16/head, Tanoreen isn't even a consideration.

          2. I'd also try D'Vine Taste on 7th Avenue in the Slope -- have no idea what they charge, but a friend was going to have them cater something, and I believe it was reasonable.

            And not for nothin', but they are truly lovely people . . .

            150 7th Ave
            (between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
            Brooklyn, NY 11215
            (718) 369-9548