Throwing a party in a restaurant can be more expensive than hosting one at home, but there are many benefits. Entertaining in a restaurant doesn’t require a lot of work. You get to serve special food to a large group without having to slave in the kitchen. Many restaurants offer private dining rooms and special menus for groups. The best part is, you don’t have to cleanup afterwards.

Any kind of party requires some planning, even if they’re held in a restaurant. Here are things to remember when planning a celebration in a restaurant:

  1. Think of your guests’ preferences. Will everyone appreciate fancy French cuisine? If you have vegetarian guests, it’s not a good idea to pick a steakhouse.
  1. Choose a restaurant where you’re familiar with the food and the level of service.
  1. Visit the restaurant before booking. Speak with the manager and ask about minimum number of guests, the cost of a private room, corkage fees, gratuities, and special requests such as a special table or custom menu.
  1. Work with the restaurant manager or chef to create a special menu. Choose several appetizers and three main courses: one fish, one meat, one vegetarian; and two desserts. Order white wine and red wine. Inform the chef in advance of any guests’ dietary restrictions or allergies.
  1. Give your guests at least two weeks before the party. Make it clear that this is a party, not just an ordinary dinner. If some guests are not familiar with the location, request directions or a map from the restaurant.
  1. Call the day before the party to confirm your reservations.
  1. Ask about decorations. Make sure that whatever you bring is appropriate for the place and the occasion. Get to the restaurant 30 minutes before the party and liven up the table. A few floral arrangements and votive candles add a personal touch.
  1. For a large group of guests, prepare place cards.
  1. Decide beforehand whether early arrivals can have a drink while waiting for others.
  1. Be clear on what the restaurant will serve and what you will provide. If you want a special cake, find out if the restaurant will prepare one for you or if you can bring your own cake.
  1. Throughout your meal, see to it that your guests are satisfied with the food and service. If there’s a problem, bring it up with the restaurant manager. Enjoy your meal and your time with your guests.
  1. You can pay in advance and have the restaurant add the incidentals to your credit card later. Or if you do pay on the night of the party, approach the manager during dessert. Restaurants usually include a gratuity, but it’s nice to be a little more generous.

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