With NYC restaurant week coming up, there will be lots of restaurants gearing up to put their best foot forward. How do you stand out in the crowd? Add entertainment to the menu. Restaurant event planning is a big deal for a reason: it draws people into your restaurant and greatly increases the chances of them having a memorable experience. Check out this list of ways to ensure a successful event.
Top 7 restaurant event planning tips for NYC Restaurant Week
1. Host trivia nights
The key to a trivia night is a good host. This is someone who can keep the energy up and the entertainment flowing- without being too overbearing. You want to allow your guests to have fun on their own. Restaurant event planning companies can be hired to run an event such as trivia. This way, you can be sure the event will run smoothly as it is hosted by someone with plenty of experience.
Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, remember your theme. Either advertise the event for a specific trivia topic each time you host it, or have broad variety of categories each night. Trivia games can be purchased, played with pens and paper that you hand out, or done high tech using tablets or smart phones. Whatever your system, test it out ahead of time. As with all restaurant event planning, the main job is ensuring you don’t run into technical difficulties.
2. Try karaoke
For an event that really gets guests interacting with each other, try a classic karaoke night. Everyone wants their moment in the spotlight, whether they want to admit it or not. Give your guests the chance to be the star of the evening and hire an MC. Restaurant event planning professionals usually recommend hiring out a karaoke service, especially if you have never done it before.
3. Host live music
If you’d rather avoid your guests’ belting ballads, go with live music entertainment instead. Hosting a band or other live music will do more than just increase the volume. A popular local artist will draw fans to your restaurant. It will mix up your regular playlist or radio station (which your wait staff will thank you for!) and get customers to stay later. If you have multiple acts performing in one night, end with the most popular, to give guests more reason to stick around.
Once you are ready to hire a band or musician, you need to choose the right music for your venue. Start your restaurant event planning by asking yourself some questions. What genre fits your restaurant? What demographic are your customers? What do they listen to? You don’t have to guess; set up a poll on social media and give your audience a choice of several artists or genres. Also consider your environment. Will a loud band get you noise complaints from neighbors?
Choose something that suits your restaurant and location, like acoustic music for a small café or a rock band for restaurant with an active nightlife. New bands will appreciate your restaurant event planning growing their fan base. Tag team the marketing with the band, and you’ll draw even more crowds by promoting a local musician as they promote you to their loyal fans.
If this is the first time you’re hosting a concert, make sure you test your arrangement and sound equipment ahead of time. After you’ve done it once, get the most out of your restaurant event planning and make it a regular thing. Fill your dining room on a slow night with new sounds.
4. Don’t leave out regulars
If your restaurant is booked out for an event, consider offering a limited menu. Less choices mean customers are less likely to be overwhelmed. It also makes life easier and production simpler for chefs and servers. Good restaurant event planning also means making sure your regular operations aren’t interrupted by your special events. Having a simple menu will make the parties easier, but it could disappoint regular diners hoping to order their favorite dishes. If your event is not for all guests, then make sure it does not decrease the quality of service for all your other customers.
5. Focus on your best dishes
If you offer a limited menu or cater an event with your most popular dishes, plan ahead to meet the extra demand. A focused menu can you help you serve good food at a fast pace, even if your restaurant is crowded. Prepare your chefs and kitchen for the extra demand. Have enough staff to handle the extra activity. Have more than enough ingredients for your most popular dishes, and consider rearranging your food storage for an event to make the process faster.
Any restaurant event planning you do can go to waste if you can’t back it up with good food. Good food relies on good refrigeration: avoid breakdowns and food loss by checking up on your refrigeration system before any big event. Make it part of your pre-party or event routine and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of a mishap.
Learn more about refrigeration maintenance:
The Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance
Refrigeration Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your Food Service Operation
6. Plan the event for your restaurant’s needs
If you are doing all the restaurant event planning work, the event should cater to your business needs. Do you have a slow lunch rush? Offer to host corporate meetings in separate dining rooms or at a discounted rate. Send the invitation to several local businesses, and you could gain some new customers.
Maybe your weekday dinner hours could use some more traffic. Host exclusive events that draw groups in, like a tasting dinner for new creations or a cooking demonstration. Have a themed party or a charity event for a slow Wednesday night. One classic restaurant event planning move is to introduce special drinks or entrees to go along with the theme, and include the detail in your advertisements. One-time offers add extra motivation for customers to visit on a specific night. Get your servers talking about the event to guests ahead of time to increase the benefit of a community event.
7. Prevent comfort issues
With all the time you invest in restaurant event planning, you want it to go perfect. There are somethings, like the weather, that even the most proactive restaurant event planning can’t foresee or control. But one thing you can do is avoid a failure of your HVAC system. Make it a priority to get your HVAC system checked before any major event. That way, you can rest assured before the big day that your system won’t fail on you when you need it most.