Working With Large Parties
Seating the Party
Here’s something everyone in the restaurant business knows: huge parties are almost always a special occasion. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, reunions, celebrations and more, there are a few ways to make their evenings better and, perhaps more importantly, profitable.
Seating large parties is no easy feat, and will certainly require some planning on the part of the host or management to figure out how to accommodate 10, 20, 30 or even 40 people at once. In some cases, a reservation may be required to rent out a room or wing of the restaurant, but in other cases, such as with the “small” parties of 10, it’s more of a matter of arranging enough tables to serve everyone.
Unusually large parties will require multiple tables that may not be grouped up. You want to minimize the space between these tables to minimize the amount of standing and walking that customers inevitably do during large events. If renting out a large section, this is a moot point as the party won’t interfere with other guests; but if they are seated with others, you need to ensure that they do not cause a disruption to other patrons.
Taking Orders and Arranging Payment
Huge parties will require food to come out in waves. It is near impossible to serve everyone immediately, but depending on the restaurant, there may be ways to appease the whole table at once with “for the table” orders or complementary appetizers like bread or chips. In some restaurants it may also be customary for large tables to share entrees, so this can ease the serving burden as you’ll only need to take large quantities of food out for the table to split, rather than serve each individual separately.
The job of the host is to also figure out how this will be handled. Assigning your most veteran servers to this task is essential, and it may be wise for management to also book additional servers for the day if this is planned out well in advance. Naturally, such gigantic parties should also have payments figured out ahead of time to avoid any possibility of payment misunderstandings. While it’s unlikely a group of 40 patrons will “dine and dash”, it can be a little uncomfortable if people come up short and worse, don’t know about the guaranteed 18% (or more) tip that is required of all large parties.