A lady called last week on Thursday, wanting to make reservations for a birthday party for her 4-year-old the following night.
“How many people are you expecting?” I asked.
“About 40 to 45 people,” she replied.
“Oh. Well, we only seat 49 people, so I don’t believe we’d be able to accommodate you… unless we were to close the restaurant for a private party,” I said, ending the last remark with a laugh.
“That’s what we were wanting,” she answered. “From 5 o’clock until about 8 or so.”
My mind raced. A 4-year-old’s birthday party. 45 people. To close the entire restaurant for four or five giant pizzas (about a hundred bucks) to have them play games and open presents for three hours on a Friday night. Either she’s crazy, or she’s wealthy. Sometimes it goes hand in hand.
“No problem,” I replied. “To reserve the entire restaurant for your party for three hours on a weekend night would be fifteen-hundred dollars. We’ll supply all the pizza your party can eat, as well as soda, breadsticks and icecream for those three hours. Given this is such short notice, we’ll need to have you pre-pay sometime this evening or first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Fifteen-hundred dollars?!?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “We won’t be able to seat anyone else in our dining room or turn the tables for three hours, which means we won’t come near the sales volume that we normally do. We’re happy to share our restaurant for parties, but need to cover our costs of being open with a full staff.”
“I’ll get back to you,” she said.
We once had a reservation for a baby’s first birthday. They requested our wall bench for 20 people at 5: 30 p.m. At 4 o’clock, a lady showed up and decorated the tables, meaning that we were unable to use those tables for other customers for an hour and a half.
At 5:30, the group showed up with their own cake and their own punch. They ordered one giant pizza (cut in small squares) for $21. The guys drank $1 cans of beer, and later that night I found two of them out back swigging Captain Morgan’s from a bottle (which makes me wonder what was in the punch that they brought). Yes, I asked them to stop.
They were the last to leave that night, at around 9:30 p.m. Their entire tab was $26, and no, they didn’t tip the staff who graciously cut & served their cake, nor the dishwashers who cleaned their cake plates or punch glasses, nor the line cook who went outside to sweep up their cigarette butts.
We once had a reservation for a birthday party for a group of 16. They showed up about five minutes before their reservation, ordered wine for the ladies, a few pitchers of beer for the guys. They had a few appetizers, ordered an assortment of standard and gourmet pizzas, then shared desserts at the end of the night.
Of the two groups, who do you think left with a better impression of our restaurant? Who had more fun? Who will be back on a regular basis?