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Napkins - The secret to catering success

January 19, 2024

What can you make with napkins? Aside from origami swans, you might be surprised to know that it’s possible to build a prosperous catering company on the flimsy paper throwaways. Although not literally.

A Twitter search will show the improbably crucial role that napkins play in catering orders. While most seem to end up hoarded in glove boxes, free napkins have a level of appeal totally disproportionate to their cost. For a very small fee, caterers can print thousands of branded items that customers will not only be happy to use, but also excited to transport and distribute for free.

Chipotle is well-known as one of the most generous napkin-givers. So much so that people claim to be eating there just to stock up. A lot of meals are apparently sold to people low on toilet roll.

When we ran a catering business, branded napkins were a ‘word of mouth’ marketing gem. One of the most effective ways of reaching new prospects was through the passing of our corporate catering napkin. Local food bookers would walk through the door brandishing one of our napkins, having been sent by an impressed boss to follow up on a successfully catered meeting.

Despite living in a world with loyalty point apps and driverless car deliveries, we still maintain that branded napkins probably give the biggest bang for your buck. They are a rare example of non-intrusive dirt-cheap adverts that people don’t consider an embarrassing open endorsement and actually find useful.

Harnessing the power of napkins

Maybe you have a rush in the morning to provide coffees, but come mid-morning all those hard-working suits are stuck at their desks. Targeting those customers while they work could provide a reliable new revenue stream. Why not send out trays of freebies to the offices, with branded napkins spreading the word for you.

Corporate catering is a great way of avoiding the lull between breakfast and lunch rushes, letting you prepare deliveries in the mid-morning and handle drinks and snacks for meeting room orders in the afternoon.

Group Ordering

Spoonfed’s new Group Ordering feature will help you reach even more people at their work. In Group Ordering the food orderer can share a link with their colleagues, letting them make their own selections from the online ordering menus, within a chosen price limit. The new feature will make it easy for people to order from their desk and get exactly what they want, without the inconvenience of emails shooting around with last-minute condiment changes.

Most importantly, group ordering reaches new customers who might become regulars after they are asked to join an order, or just see a napkin left around the kitchen area.

Avoiding the delivery bottleneck

We have also recently added Orkestro integration, removing the risk of delivery acting as a bottleneck for caterers. Orkestro is the autonomous operations manager for last-mile deliveries that combines an internal fleet management tool with a marketplace of third-party logistics providers. When an order is processed through Spoonfed, you can now use Orkestro to manage how it will be delivered. If you are able to, you can handle the delivery yourself. If not, you can assign the delivery to a courier. You can even get a quote from different couriers before deciding, to find the cheapest available.

You can then receive status updates, check up on the driver’s location in the Orkestro portal and rate their performance once the delivery is complete.

The great news is that your customer gets your food the way you want them to receive it, and you still own the customer, unlike caterers that sacrifice revenue and customer relationships by selling through marketplace sites.

And, of course, Orkestro will deliver those all-important napkins along with the food.

If you’d like to know more about Spoonfed or our integration with Orkestro, drop us a line at We’d love to talk about how our system might help you expand your corporate catering. If you haven’t yet made branded napkins, we recommend Tristar - they also do branded platter tray foils, handy in case the napkins run out!