Restaurant 101: Holiday Party Survival Tips

Judging by the number of revelers I have in my restaurant right now– this is THE WEEK of company holiday parties.

Here are a few tips from the inside to help you make it through unscathed (and without scathing any of the staff):

  • 1. Check out the menu before you arrive: Most any restaurant is going to require a party of 20 or more guests to choose a set menu. Try to get a gander at the menu from your office party planner in advance if you can.  In addition to helping you figure out how flush your company coffers are (hint: Lobster= $$$, chicken everything = get your resume ready), you can figure out if you have any allergies that need to be addressed.
  • 2. Discuss Allergies in Advance: If you have serious allergies that you are not sure can be accommodated by the menu you’ve just spied, call the restaurant so we can make a plan in advance. NOTE: This is only for serious allergies. If you just don’t like onions, that’s not what I’m talking about here. If you are seriously allergic to chiles, and going to a mexican restaurant, please call us in advance so we can make a dish that suits your needs. We want you to enjoy your party as much as everyone else!
  • 3. Stick to the menu: Trying to order something that is not on your party’s pre-selected menu only delays your service. And by your service, that means potentially the service of your entire party. If you’d checked the menu in advance, and called the restaurant with any food allergies or dietary restrictions, then we would already have a dish for you…..
  • 4. The coffee is trying to tell you something: When the coffee comes out, that means the bar is closing, the check is dropping, and you should probably start searching your pockets for your parking ticket. Sometimes your host has set a pre-determined end time for the party for budget reasons, and sometimes the restaurant is just closing soon….. If you realize after the coffee cups are empty that you are the only people still in the restaurant, then the polite thing to do is get ready to go. If every 3 minutes a different staff member buzzes by your table to ask if they can “get anything else for you?” then it is really time to take the hint so the bus boys can move all the tables back and get out in time to catch the last train home.
  • 5. Share: You may be in a party of 50, but you are probably not the only party in the restaurant at any given time. Understand that there are other guests, not only in the restaurant, but also in your party.  Avoid bottle-necking with your buddies in major thoroughfares. Not only is this greatly appreciated by the staff, it also decreases the chances that you’ll wind up with a manhattan or a lobster thermidor spilled on your Santa sweater. Pay attention to the pacing of the party, too, so that you don’t delay service for your whole group.
  • 6. Order early: If your party has a coursed menu with a choice of entree for each guest, be ready to order by the end of your cocktail hour. The chef is going to pace your experience off of this order. Typically, the last round of appetizers won’t come out of the kitchen until the chef has the entree order in his hand. Otherwise, the wait between courses would be too long. If the staff comes around to advise the party-goers that the host “requests everyone to find their seats, we’ll take the order in a moment,” don’t be the lone group of holdouts snickering at the corner of the bar. The entree order isn’t going to go the kitchen until it is complete. So you are delaying the revelry of all of your office mates. Understand, also,  that any additional requests you make of the servers while they are taking the order (another glass of wine, a new napkin) are not going to happen until the order is complete.
  • 7. Don’t be afraid to call the restaurant: The best source of information for parking, directions, ingredients in certain dishes, etc, is the restaurant. Don’t be afraid to call us, that’s what we’re here for.

And, if you are trying to book a party at the last minute (because someone in the corner office forgot about Chrstmachanakwanzakah until today)—- Be Flexible. It’s the busiest week of the year for most restaurants, but if you can be flexible on your time frame, we can usually find a way to help you have an awesome party.

These are the decorations in my building. They look disappointed in all of us.
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