Food for Thought: Which service style is right for you?

Food for Thought: Which service style is right for you?


One of the most frequently asked questions of us is, “Which is better…buffet or plated?” and truthfully, each of the service styles has its’ own pros and cons. You have more options that you may not know about that you might love so much, you won’t even need to ask!

What is it? : Food is set up along a buffet table. Catering Staff sends each table up one by one to go through the line and serve themselves.


-Guests have the choice of which items they want and the quantity they would like of each. (ie, Aunt Linda doesn’t eat much meat so she puts more veggies and potatoes on her plate and only one small slice of beef.)

-You will likely need less service staff, thus reducing staffing charges.


-Wait time in line while guests make their selections (plan for about 30 minutes per 75 guests based on a double-sided buffet)

-The buffet takes up room in the event space and depending on your guest count and venue size, you may not have room for the buffet!

*At Montero’s, we suggest having a plated salad even when choosing the buffet format. It speeds up the line and gives guests something to nibble on while they are waiting for their table to be called up to the buffet.

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Dragon Studio


What is it? : Typically known as the “most traditional and formal” service style, plated meals are served to each individual guest at the table by course.


-Everyone at the table gets their meal at the same time while seated at the table.

-Eliminates wait times and the need to walk to buffet.

-Less food waste as meals are pre-portioned by the catering staff.


-More servers are needed for speedy service, so staffing charges would likely be higher.

-Meals are pre-portioned so guests do not have the option to get seconds (although Montero’s portions for plated meals are very generous!)


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What is it? : Guests are served food on platters at the table and pass the platters around the table to fill their plates.


-Intimate and lends itself to guest conversation. Some of the guests at your tables may not have met before, so food is a great way to get the conversations started!

-Quick and efficient, so you can get through dinner and get to the party more quickly!

-Guests have the same choice they have on the buffet option, without the hassle of standing up to go through the line.


-May require additional rentals to be secured such as platters, bowls, tongs, or spoons depending on your final menu choices.

-You may need to adjust your decor in order to account for the serving pieces on the table. Centerpieces that take up a lot of space may not be the right choice for this format.


Dragon Studio

What is it? : This style is best for an active crowd, with a lot of socializing and dancing. Food is set up along one or more buffet tables. Guests go through the stations and serve themselves at a time convenient for them. Some stations have a chef attendant preparing and serving food on-site and/or carving meats.


-You can provide lots of different and unique choices and small bites for guests

-Guest seating is often limited and not-assigned, so you can save on rentals & time planning seating layouts


-Some guests may prefer a more traditional format and/or be confused if there is not seating for all guests

-Can potentially take up more room in event space

-Depending on menu choices, the event may require more staffing for stations with chef attendants.


Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

If you have any questions or need help planning your event, give us a call at 252-331-1067 and one of our wonderful catering sales managers will be more than happy to assist you choose the service style that is right for you!

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