What more do you want in a restaurant than great food, great service and great atmosphere? When planning for group dining, things change a bit. You also plan for the comfort, convenience, needs and tastes of your group and the event. Here are a few things to think about and consider when choosing a restaurant for a group event.

  • Size of Group - Know the approximate size of your group. Find your best restaurant options by assuring the venues have a private room or adequate space with a dedicated staff large enough to accommodate the size and needs of your group.

  • Budget - Determine the ideal cost per person factoring in beverages, taxes and tips. Find out whether the restaurant offers special packages or menus for group functions.

  • Location - Consider how easy it is to get to there. The restaurant should be in close proximity to other venues, like hotel or meeting space, or near the travel route for motorcoach tours.

  • Parking - Ample, convenient parking is a huge plus when selecting a restaurant. Will guests self-park or valet park? Is there a parking fee? If so, make plans to pre-pay the fee or let your group know the cost beforehand. If your group is traveling via motorcoach, ask whether the restaurant can accommodate buses on-site.

  • Site Visit - See the restaurant in person, when possible. During the site visit, you may identify the place where your group might mingle before being seated for dinner and, also, check for appropriate noise levels, background music and adequate restrooms.

  • Menu - The restaurant should have something for every taste or preference. You may ask for a menu to evaluate options or consider a tasting session. Decide how the meal should be ordered and served. Will guests order a la carte from the menu, from a set menu or prix fixe? Served as a buffet or seated?

  • Seating Arrangement - Determine table and seating arrangements in advance. Consider pairing dinner partners. Having name cards at each seat helps guests find their seats quickly. If group members have pre-selected their dinner option, note the selection on the place cards or on the guestsÕ name tags. This helps wait staff serve quickly and efficiently.

  • Personalize - Even though restaurants have their own ambiance and decor, you may want to add a personal touch appropriate for your group. Ask the restaurant about bringing in extra flowers, centerpieces, banners or flags that would customize the space for the event.

  • Equipment - Find out whether the restaurant will be able to provide equipment for entertainment or presentations, such as podiums, microphone or screens. If not, the restaurant may be able to recommend a local vendor to deliver and set-up the necessary equipment.

  • Reservation - Request a special area or function room and book in advance. Check whether other groups are scheduled to use the restaurant during your reservation period.

  • Confirm - Talk to your restaurant contact early in the week preceding your event. Confirm the number of guests for the event, the menu, seating arrangement and any other special needs of the group.

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