When it comes to managing a restaurant, it’s not always easy. With narrow margins, unpredictable crowds, and new trends such as delivery services, it is critical to provide customers a variety of dining opportunities, like hosting events. Since most people want food at their event, it really is a win-win situation. The types of events could range from family reunions, birthday parties, holiday get-togethers, charity functions, and other family or business events.
Offering your restaurant as a venue gives potential customers a reason to dine with you and experience your hospitality. Wow them with your food and customer service, and you’ve gained a repeat customer. Events also have potential to boost your social media influence as users can check-in, Tweet, Snapchat, post and Instagram their event.
Start analyzing who your customers are, and the types of people that work or live in your area. You want to identify their needs, desires, and even the trends that they follow. For instance, if you’re in a tourist-centric area, focus on bachelorette or birthday parties. If you’re located in a scenic or romantic area, target wedding parties, engagement, and anniversaries. If you’re surrounded by businesses, bring them in for brunch or lunch meetings, or company happy hours.
The Basics of Hosting
Hosting events can be a highly effective method for increasing revenue in a way that’s predictable and manageable. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be cumbersome or overwhelming. Below are the steps necessary to begin hosting events in your space, no matter how big or small. Just be sure to take the time necessary to ensure your options are feasible and meaningful to customers. At minimum, this should include:
If you have a separate area in your restaurant that can be closed off, use it as a private event room. It can be used for rehearsal dinners, bridal and baby showers, family reunions and business meetings. Such parties are the easiest to plan and can provide tremendous sales without disrupting normal business. For the best event capacity, be sure to evaluate proper space and fire safety protocol.
Does your restaurant boast a rooftop, patio, or banquet room? Then you’ve already got an ideal event space built in for private events. From there, you can prime the area for events with things like:
- A/V equipment, if it’s safe from inclement weather.
- Simple decor (string twinkle lights or a single flower in 7-inch-tall vase on each table).
- Easy access to exits, bathrooms, and the bar – if applicable.
If you don’t have a private area like described above, consider a semi-private space. Suitable for almost all event types, a curtain or standing divider can provide a more intimate and less ‘public’ atmosphere.
While most restaurants do not limit their event hours, you may choose to make the hours available for events. These special event hours could be during slow dining times, before or after regular business hours, or specific 3-hour periods. This can assist you and your staff in managing the event customers and regular customers while continuing to provide excellent customer service.
Food & Beverages
Private party patrons tend to eat and drink more than the typical diner, so consider a pre-set menu that requires fewer servers to satisfy a large group setting together rather than many complicated dishes. Prepping for events, like developing seasonal dishes and planning promotions for your venue takes time, so start early. Great food and drink will stick in guests’ minds for potential future visits.
Whether it’s canapés, a sit-down meal, or a drinks reception, ensure you have something available for a broad range of tastes. Be sure to remember that not everyone will be drinking alcohol, so provide non-alcoholic alternatives, and remember to offer vegetarian alternatives to meat dishes, as well as catering for those with food allergies, as required.
When selecting options, it is crucial to be a cost-conscious organizer. Offer several options to patrons that hope to host their event in your spot. Keep the venue cost down by offering flexibility on dates events may be held. Certain days of the week tend to cost less than prime restaurant hours, so be sure to account for this when setting prices for both food and location.
The last thing you want is to serve up a less-than-stellar customer experience because you’re understaffed, or have sloppy, slow service. Make sure your staff are fully trained, understand the importance and urgency of excellent customer service. A good way to ‘practice’ is to host events for family members of staff for a discount.
Once you get bookings for private parties, you and your team need to shine on ev