Supper organiser Sarah Jeffries divulges top tips for hosts and talks about her experience with Social Republic.
How did you choose the venue?
I always find recommendation from friends is a good starting point, and reputation of course. The internet is a good resource too and reviews are so helpful. Sites like Google Places or Foursquare are favourites but I like the local portals too as they tend to be more constructive. I tend to visit lots of places personally and regularly, as it’s important to bear in mind that chefs and staff change often, and so the experience could vary. Venues that are easily accessible are good; I always take note of that. Plus welcoming staff and obviously a decent menu are important. Also somewhere that is not too large or noisy so that conversation is possible. A separate dining area for your group is always a plus.
How do you go about negotiating the menu and price?
Some restaurants already have set menus for groups in various price ranges. This is helpful and you can usually change them a bit if there is something different you would like to add. They usually offer 3 starters, 3 main courses and a vegetarian option (a necessity) and 3 desserts. Decide if you want to include coffee and/or a pre-dinner drink – this is a nice way to start the evening. If the restaurant does not have a set menu give them a budget and ask them to provide one, they are usually very helpful; remember they want your business. Also, make sure they cater for any special dietary requirements; this means not just vegetarian but intolerances such as gluten or dairy.
How did you work out the cost per person?
I worked it out as the price of the menu plus 10% for gratuity. Many restaurants will add a 10% charge for tables of over 10 people. If you are also providing wine, remember to add this into the equation. If not, make sure it is stated in what is excluded. In this situation it is a good idea to alert the waiting staff to the fact that all drinks must be paid for by the individual so they can keep separate tabs for everyone.
How did you feel in the run up to your event?
I have to admit to being slightly nervous that I would remember everyone’s names and recall a bit about them! Photographs are essential on guests’ profiles for this reason. Although I was confident the meal would be good, people do have different tastes so it’s always a bit of a worry, but it was alright on the night as they say! To be on the safe side, I arrived early to check the table and all the staff knew what was going on. I had a seating plan on this occasion, so I made sure the place names were set out in advance.
How did it go?
The evening went well, the food was good, service was excellent and everyone went home happy. So all good!
Did your feelings changed during the event?
I relaxed once we were all sat down and the food was served. People seemed to be engrossed in conversation. I did watch to make sure nobody was being left out, a couple of people changed places but I did not have much to do. I was planning to move people around after the main course but did not feel it was necessary. Each event would have to be judged separately.
What aspects do you think went well?
The menu choice was popular. Everyone was very friendly.
Did you learn anything for next time?
People leave it to the last minute to book, so don’t panic! The pre-dinner drinks may have gone on a little too long. The evening went on far longer than I was anticipating - long past my bed time! So I may try to bring it to a close earlier next time, just in case anyone else felt the same way and was just too polite to say so.Tweet