You look at the calendar and you see the Big Red Circle around that special day. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding, graduation, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or Aunt Millie’s 100th birthday celebration. Or it could be that family reunion, holiday gathering, corporate picnic, or your “just-because” party. Whatever the occasion, that Big Red Circle is staring out and making you nervous. The phrase, “everyone re-members the food” keeps echoing in your head so you know you want a professional on your side. Good choice! But where to begin?

Caterer or Restaurant?

Everyone in the Catering by Michaels family loves restaurants. We enjoy eating at them. We enjoy the experience. But we also know restaurants and caterers are very different businesses. At first blush, you may not see how they differ when it comes to feeding your guests. They both have food, after all! But once you take a closer look, you’ll begin to realize caterers and restaurants are not as similar as you might think.


The main purpose of a restaurant is for you to go to them. You choose a restaurant, go and sit down, and enjoy your meal. Restaurants work hard to provide an experience based upon their physical location.

With caterers, we bring the experience to you. We know how to transform spaces and optimize service. Whether we provide delivery or full-service, we are devoted to making sure your event is a success no matter where you hold it.


Restaurants create menus based upon theme, aesthetic, and the decision makers’ preferences. Then, you choose a restaurant based upon their offerings. After all, if you’re hungry for Italian you wouldn’t go to your favorite Thai restaurant.

Caterers work with you to craft highly personalized menus for your events. Our dedicated event producers know how to accommodate your budget, your tastes, and any of your guests’ special needs (vegan/vegetarian, allergies, food intolerances, and so on). In turn, our chefs have extensive experience in creating the food to fulfill your personalized menu.


Restaurants know how to work their own room and keep it running. They are not organized to handle your off-site event. This means you may not receive the highest level of service—or may be forced to hire additional outside help.

A caterer’s purpose is to cater to your needs (we had to say it at some point!). Our job is to bring our award-winning food to your event, whether it’s in a dedicated event space, a picnic grove, a museum rotunda, or your home. From our delivery drivers to our servers to our on-site chefs to our function directors, our professional staff’s main job is to make sure you and your guests are happy.

Final Word

Restaurants do a great job feeding people at their location. Caterers know how to craft individualized menus to fit your needs, and then reproduce that menu at your event complete with an entire professional support team. To learn more about Catering by Michaels, our nearly 40 years of catering experience in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, or to speak with an event coordinator, please call us at (847) 966-6555 or contact us online!