Event planners rely upon restaurants to host all kinds of corporate events. In fact, according to Restaurant Hospitality, a trade magazine dedicated to the food services industry in the U.S., corporate dining is on the rise. And in Canada, Restaurants Canada, the industry’s trade association, forecasts a stronger 2014 for restaurants across the country. Great news for restaurants and for planners!
And why not? Nothing stimulates conversation quite so well as good food and drink. But excellent food and interesting wines, while undisputedly of singular importance, are not the only ingredients that make for a terrific restaurant event. To experience a resoundingly successful dining experience, not only must the tastebuds be tantalized, but all of the senses must be nourished as well.
Consider the purpose and intent of your event and then consider the following:
Every restaurant, like every event, has a theme, a style and a personality. But does it match yours? You can answer this by examining the following:
- Lighting – A key element that can easily enhance or distract from an event. Is it meant to excite or soothe; how does it change during the day? Will the unexpected glare of sunlight disturb the mood at a luncheon meeting or will the sunlight fill the room with well-being and warmth?
- Noise – Ambient restaurant noises can spice up an event or simply irritate. When checking the quality of sound systems, ask about the room acoustics, or better yet, have a listen. Look for hard walls that face each other and a shortage of rugs and plush chairs that soak up sound. That’s going to be a noisy space when people start talking!
- Space and scale – This is a great one to play with when considering your purpose – creating a sense of expansiveness or encouraging mingling. All of this can be determined by how you manipulate the space.
- Touch – Materials make the mood: Wood, soft leathers and fabric spell comfort while metal, glass and stone bring energy.
- Colours – Colour influences appetite and mood; spicy foods are most enjoyed amidst bright colours; black brings an air of sophistication.
- Smell – Are the fragrances of the kitchen stimulating the senses? Are there other scents that fight the food?
Within the vision, there is of course adaptability. Most restaurateurs today will happily change certain design elements to accommodate planner needs. Consider:
- Tables – Table arrangements and shapes encourage various kinds of social interaction with different business results. If they don’t have what you need, many venues will rent at cost.
- Space manipulation – Larger spaces can be arranged for smaller groups. Soft lighting and low placement, dark upholstery, rich colours and clustered seating are all tools to create intimacy from expansiveness.
With warmer weather, patio season brings other practical considerations:
- Are there sufficient umbrellas and patio heaters? With Canadian weather we need both!
- How close is the patio to traffic, pollution and noise?
- Is there a sense of personal space?
- Is it comfortable? Gone are the days of the plastic chair. In many instances patios have become designer playgrounds.
And finally, a first rate dining event demands first rate, knowledgeable and attentive service. Staff that are well trained in the art of hospitality and service will elevate your group’s dining experience.