In restaurant lingo, it’s known as a function. To the rest of the population it is referred to as an occasion or a celebration …
What better way to herald any type of event than with a great meal at a nice restaurant? So simple … A neutral location, no mess, no fuss. Letting someone else do all the hard work leaves time for everyone to mingle, for a host to remain relatively unflustered, for guests to kick back and let off a bit of steam.
Whether it’s simply a birthday, a landmark anniversary, a work do, a Christmas party or even a wedding or a wake – restaurants are often the first point of call in the organisation of a group gathering.
Sometimes it’s an intimate soiree of eight, but it could be a sardine crammed room of 100. Whatever a customer requires, a good restaurant will try to meet their needs and tailor make their experience to suit the flavour of the individual group.
Functions are an essential business for restaurants. There is absolutely nothing better in this game than to know exactly how many covers you will be doing on a particular night. And not only that – you know exactly what they will be eating and how much they will be spending!
In many ways they are every restaurateur’s dream and if we had them every night, our bread would be truly buttered!
We wish … In reality however, they can be notoriously difficult to manage – requiring many additional hours of planning and preparation to a regular dinner service, and facing quite a lot more stress in “getting it right” for an individual client, who is often making a large financial and emotional investment in planning an important occasion in their lives.
Each one is a finely honed balancing act of meeting a client’s specific expectations – agreeing on suitable cost, planning an appropriate menu, creating the right kind of atmosphere … The list goes on. And then there’s getting it all right on the night – the pressure is on in the kitchen getting multiple meals out all at once, the front of house staff madly coping with drink orders en-masse and trying to keep things tidy and avoiding a descent into chaos.
These issues exist with every ordinary service as well, but a function exacerbates the everyday stress. There is even more at stake, and when things go wrong they don’t just go wrong for a table or two; but in fact, the entire restaurant could come crashing down.
The stakes are higher, and no two functions are alike. Often you never can tell how things are going to “pan” out until you’re in the middle of it. Sometimes the pressure is on and everyone runs around like crazy, but other times staff are twiddling their thumbs and sneaking glances at the clock …
Every group creates its own specific atmosphere – some are hard-core partiers with cocktails flowing, raucous laughter and late night taxis called to ferry them onward to various late night destinations. Others are much more low key, with soft drinks and early bedtimes. Some are downright awkward, when clearly nobody really knows each other too well, or goes out to eat very often. Some care a lot about what it is on their plate in front of them, and some can’t even remember what it was that they ordered!
When you go to a restaurant as a customer for a function, you are often completely unaware of the intricate and precarious organisation that has gone into the event. Usually, you are (hopefully!) too busy enjoying yourself and letting your hair down, or perhaps you are feeling a bit self conscious because you don’t know too many people there …
Whatever the case may be, know that there is a team of people working hard to create a special event just for you and your friends/family/colleagues. That team does the best that it can to get it right, but allow for a little randomness, as functions are a bit like life – you don’t know what you’re going to get ‘til you get it!