Well-known gourmet store chains and upscale grocery chains like Whole Foods Markets and Food Emporium also offer catering services. Single-location gourmet havens like Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provide catering items in addition to their standard on-site fare.
Grocery and gourmet store catering allows customers to order a specific quantity of food and pick it up later, although delivery options are sometimes available. Many of these stores have full kitchens and staff to prepare food for their deli sections, and they sell catering items to bring in added sales. Many of the larger stores have glossy, full color brochures with professionally stylized shots of their menu items.
Many gourmet stores display their extensive catering menus and offer copies for customers to take. Start a collection of these menus and use them for menu-writing ideas. Look at the item descriptions and study how the menus use words to convey the tastes of the dishes.
The biggest factor grocery store catering has going for it is convenience. It allows customers to take care of their weekly shopping and special party needs all in one stop. Particularly in more rural areas, where there are likely to be fewer caterers, grocery stores provide food for casual entertaining.
Gourmet stores usually offer fairly sophisticated catering menus and services. Sometimes they'll even be able to provide service staff. Dean & DeLuca caters many off-site parties and provides clients with trained service staff if needed.