Be it a rehearsal dinner, holiday party, or new menu launch, hosting an event at your restaurant is a chance to attract many first-time diners, giving you a key opportunity to make a lasting impression.
Here are some tips to make it memorable for guests, while highlighting the best that your restaurant has to offer:
1. Get Clear on Your Goals
Whether you’re planning a refined 50th anniversary party or a big bash for millennials, it’s important to start by determining general parameters and specific objectives. Begin with the number of attendees. This will determine how intimate or open a space you’ll need to provide. If it’s a substantially sized party, you will likely want to close the restaurant for a private event to avoid taxing your kitchen staff or creating service bottlenecks. It can also be a good idea to overschedule staff in advance of the event and make cuts as things slow in the event that the turnout is lower than anticipated.
2. Understand the Budget
Though food and drink will likely be the primary expenditures, understanding the allotment for other essential areas is equally important. Getting a clear picture of you or your client’s entire budget can help you make suggestions and necessary concessions. For instance, if your establishment has a projector for their audio-visual needs, it could free up funds to increase the per person meal-spend. You may also have established contacts with local entertainers who can complete the preferred ambiance for less cost. Anything you can do to help lower the out of pocket expense will go a long way.
3. Give Your Guests the VIP Treatment
An unforgettable dining experience is all in the details. That’s why it’s so important to go above and beyond wherever you can. Be mindful of final touches and little details that can make the experience unforgettable. Some examples include fresh flowers (so long as they don’t interfere with any planned decoration), candles and impeccable mood lighting, freshly pressed table clothes, and laundered, well-matched outfits for your wait staff.
4. Be Strategic About Meal Planning
Make sure to ask in advance about any food allergies and create a meal plan that can, at minimum, accommodate vegans, vegetarians, and gluten allergies. Beyond that, the best advice is to make what you’re known for. You were very likely selected based on your restaurant’s fare, so now is definitely no time to branch out. A limited menu with a few specialty diet items can help ensure food emerges from your kitchen quickly and flawlessly. By asking chefs to execute fewer dishes over the course of the evening, they’ll be able to retain focus and concentrate on quality.
5. Don’t Plan it on the Day of a Competing Event
When you want to attract the largest possible turnout, it’s important to ensure you’re not in direct competition with another event. If there’s a competing occasion that could siphon off the crowd, it’s worth suggesting changing the date. Be aware of your start time, too. For instance, if the event is on a weekday, understand that rush hour traffic could create a delayed start.
6. Publicize the Event
If it’s a public event, getting the word out is crucial. First, consider your primary target audience. Is this an event to celebrate your own employees, your existing customers, a family’s personal celebration, or the general public? You’ll need to adjust your communication style for each. Also have a general idea of how your guests will prefer to receive their invites. A Facebook event notification and a mailed paper invitation set very different expectations of the night. If the event is open to the public, contact as many local outlets as possible and ask them to add it to their calendar listings for increased exposure. After the event, you can follow up with your guests and ask them to fill out a brief survey or evaluation. Offer a small incentive to encourage a thoughtful response on how you can improve.
In short, done right a successful event can bolster your restaurant’s positive publicity, glowing word of mouth reviews, and future business. Use these delectable tips to throw a highly satiating event at your restaurant.