There’s one particular booking scenario in the world of restaurants that strikes equal parts joy and equal parts fear all at the same time … No, it’s not the arrival of a restaurant critic, or perhaps a much admired celebrity diner (although joy and fear can be factored in heavily here too), it is merely the arrival of a large table or the approach of a function.
Now, before this goes any further, let it be said that we love all our bookings – large and small! But there are a few key differences when it comes to providing a high level of service and customer experience to groups, as opposed to tables of two and four.
The first, and most crucial one of these, is that planning and preparation are key when it comes to ensuring the most seamless service possible. Liaising with clients beforehand and discussing menu options, dietary requirements, beverage preferences, budget and expectations are paramount. Then there’s ordering and stocking, table plans, sorting out any other requirements a client may request.
So much more happens before and after when it comes to functions, that the event itself can sometimes feel like the eye of a cyclone – where there’s a strange sort of calm and lack of chaos. This is due to the magic of a group dynamic. So very different to dynamics and interactions within smaller tables.
For the most part (unless it’s a very awkward or sombre get together – more about those later) groups create their own buzz and their own ambience. Sure, enjoyment of food, wine and service in a restaurant is still extremely important, but there’s something else at play here too – there are human beings here conducting all manner of important social rituals. Whether it’s networking, flirting, deep and meaningful reunions and introductions – you can be sure a roomful of people gathered together for any reason at all will be occupied by all manner of the above, and then some. And if there isn’t much of this kind of action, then you’ve just stumbled upon one of those “awkward” gatherings of the sort where nobody particularly wants to mingle (think dreaded in-laws and twice removed cousin re-unions). There’s not much anyone can do in this situation, apart from ensuring alcoholic beverages are kept flowing in the vague hope of some level of ice-breaking!
So for the most part (awkward in-laws exempt) it might seem a bit easier to serve a large crowd you may think than a table of two – but think again. There may be a higher level of distraction amongst certain diners than usual when it comes to the finer nuances of food and service, but like anything in life it is simply a numbers game, and when you increase the numbers, you just heighten the probability of anything at all going wrong. And when things go wrong with a group, it is more often than not some spectacular fail … hence the fear part of the scenario!
Yet fear not, if you were by chance reading this and thinking not to book your next function. Years in the game have armed us with all kinds of bright ideas and tweaks to ensure functions and large tables have the time of their lives.
For example – offering a reduced menu helps greatly when it comes to ensuring that our very tiny kitchen can get lots of plates out to tables as quickly as possible. Making sure there are enough hands on deck to cope with the onslaught is a no-brainer too.
Moral of the story – weddings, parties, anything – we love them all and can cater for groups large and small!