Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's so bad about a party of 30?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 8:19 PM

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Here's a provocative letter from a reader asking a question I can't answer. Maybe those working in the business can respond:

I help run a Meetup group that often dines out, and we usually bring between 20-30 people to restaurants. We think this qualifies as a "good thing" for the restaurant, especially because we 1) contact the restaurants weeks before the planned dinner and 2) are flexible as to arrival time (early or late) so as not to break the back at peak rush dining times and 3) don't ask for discounts or concessions or try to use coupons and 4) ensure our members bring cash to both maximize the restaurants revenues and minimize their processing time. In others words, we KNOW 30 people can be a challenge, and do everything we can to make it easy on the restaurant we've chosen.

But some restaurants adopt an attitude with us ... needless to say, we just move on to the next one. Or they demand four-figure minimum guarantees which, if divided by 30 people, ends up being a ridiculous amount more than if we had just showed up and ordered off the menu until we were so stuffed we'd have to roll down the sidewalk. This recently happened when I contacted one of my favorite Va Highlands restaurants and I was both surprised and annoyed. Okay then, I guess we will move on to one of your competitors, perhaps they will be happier to see us.

Do they not want the business? Has the recession improved so much that restaurants can afford to turn away groups? Are we fooling ourselves? We have had some wonderful dining experiences with restaurants who are happy to see us when we walk in the door and we wonder why some restaurants are so snotty and demanding and what we, as a group, can do so we are viewed as valuable commodity and not a PITA.

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