By Katie Schenkel
With the year almost coming to a close, there’s still time to do holiday-focused events at your restaurant. And one of the most popular is easily the classic New Year’s Eve party. However, while a big event can reap great rewards, there are some major hurdles to consider when executing NYE events at your restaurant. Make sure to really think through what you’re going to do and plan carefully.
What style party?There are several takes on New Year’s Eve parties that you can do at your restaurant. What you choose really depends on your brand and your regular serving style.
Are you a bar or pub? You can get away without an RSVP, keeping your general serving style and simply adding a special menu (both food and drink menus) to choose from for the night.
If you’re more upscale and formal, consider restricting the night to reservation only and set up a prix fixe menu. However, If you want to elevate the evening and make it a more interactive event, another perfectly good option is to just serve appetizers in a cocktail setting. With a cocktail party, your kitchen can focus on consistently putting together smaller items and your guests can focus on mingling and enjoying the bar — where you’re likely to make the bulk of your profit for the evening. You can even have a standing room feel with room to dance.
Again, all of these are viable options, but your choice should depend on the tone of your restaurant already is and what your guests expect when visiting your establishment.
That being said, the New Year offers everyone a chance to reinvent, and this can be true for your restaurant, too! If you have new or revamped dishes you want to promote in the new year, your New Year’s Eve party might be a good time to try them out. Cover your bases by including your current (seasonally appropriate) best sellers with a few new dishes. If this is a cocktail event, make sure all of your dishes are something people can eat and walk with. If you can make them bite-sized, even better.
Do you have televisions in your restaurant? Even if a TV screen isn’t usually part of your brand, remember that a big part of NYE for many party goers is getting to see the ball drop at midnight. It might be a good idea to bring in a television so that your party can include the traditional countdown — or at the very least, host a prominent countdown clock of your own.
How to know when enough is enoughPossibly the most important element to planning a New Year’s Eve party is anticipating issues involving alcohol. This is one of the specific nights every year where many people specifically go out expecting to get very drunk. Handling drunk guests carefully is not only important from a legal standpoint, but also helps ensure your other guests won’t have their night ruined.
Train your servers on how to handle drunk guests, when to cut guests off, and what to do if a guest becomes belligerent. TIPS Certification is a great way to give your staff a thorough education on these topics and ensure they know what to do in these situations. Frankly, this is excellent training for the whole year long, but especially crucial on New Year’s Eve.
Build up every member of your staff with the confidence to not only give a firm “No” to someone visibly over their limit, but the confidence to know that you and the rest of the managerial staff will back them up on that decision. Give them the authority to handle a drunk guest firmly and discreetly, but the wisdom to know when to ask for help.
What are some of the warning signs for over-intoxication?
Training your staff is just one aspect of handling alcohol consumption on this specific day. Offering fun, seasonal non-alcoholic drinks like punch is another smart way to encourage guests to not drink or pace their drinking. Rewarding designated drivers with a free mocktail can be good incentive for them to keep their promise to not drink during the event. Also consider coordinating with a local cab company or ride-sharing service so they’re ready to pick people up who need a ride.
Even with these tips and precautions, throwing yourself into hosting a NYE party could very well be the wrong choice for you at this moment in your business. If you’ve never hosted an event (private or public) in your restaurant, you don’t want New Year’s Eve to be your first one. People expect a higher level of service on special occasions (especially if they’re paying a special price to get into the event) and you don’t want this to be your first test run at event planning.
If you don’t think your kitchen or servers are prepared for a party like this, don’t be afraid to table the idea for next year! It might be better to spend the next 12 months doing smaller events so you can get good at hosting before throwing a truly fantastic New Year’s Eve party in 2017.
How do you know what kind of event is right for your restaurant? We have tips for you: