With the year coming to an end, there’s still time to hold 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 think through what you’re going to do and plan carefully.
What’s the Style of Your Party?
There are so many ways to customize your New Year’s Eve parties. What you choose depends on your brand and your regular serving style.
Are you operating a bar or pub? You can get away without an RSVP, keeping your general serving style and simply adding special 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 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 what the tone of your restaurant already is and what your guests expect when visiting your establishment.
The new year offers everyone a chance to reinvent themselves, and this can be true for your restaurant, too! If you have new or revamped dishes you want to promote, 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 your dishes are something people can easily eat while mingling with other guests. 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 Enough
Possibly the most important element to planning a New Year’s Eve party is anticipating issues involving alcohol. This is one of the specific nights of the year where some people consume more alcohol than they normally would. Handling drunk guests with care is not only important from a legal standpoint, but it also helps ensure that your other guests won’t have their night ruined.
Train your servers on how to handle intoxicated 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 training is important year-round, but it is especially crucial on New Year’s Eve.
Make sure every member of your staff has the confidence to not only give a firm “no” to someone visibly over their limit, but also the knowledge 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? A customer who:
- Slurs their speech
- Loses their train of thought, especially mid-sentence
- Makes movements slowly and deliberately
- Struggles to keep their eyes in focus or even open
- Fumbles with their wallet and money
- Becomes overly friendly as time passes
- Sways while standing or getting up
- Needs to lean on the bar for support
- Struggles not to spill their drink or misses their mouth when trying to drink from a straw
Some of these indicators can be subtle at first, so it’s up to your servers and bartenders to be alert for signs before over-intoxication becomes a real problem.
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 discourage guests from drinking too much and help persuade them to pace their drinking. Rewarding designated drivers with a free mocktail can be a 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 next year.
How do you know what kind of event is right for your restaurant? We have tips for you: