Private Dining No Longer Requires a Private Room
Unconventional events can bring in extra profits for your restaurant
Corporate events. Wine tastings. Holiday parties. Traditional private dining has always been a source of supplemental revenue for restaurants. But what about operations without a private dining room, or owners looking to make an extra buck on off days and times? A typical restaurant events like baby showers or cooking classes all impact restaurants’ bottom lines and don’t require build-outs.
Brindille (pictured above), an intimate, 50-seat restaurant in Chicago, is only open for dinner, yet the kitchen staff preps all day and the rent still needs to be paid. So, the owners decided to launch a “holiday tea” series on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day weekends, and the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For $65, guests enjoy multiple courses of savories and sweets paired with exotic teas. Additional beverages cost extra and comprise a good portion of the check. In 2018, Brindille’s tea series grew 25 percent over the year before.
“For our high teas and private dining in general, margins are better, we conform our menus for the guests, costs for food and wine are controlled, and it’s a good way to move inventory,” says Michael Nahabedian, co-owner of Brindille.
Guests have so thoroughly enjoyed their tea experiences that they now request tea-style parties for their own private events (birthday parties, engagements, etc.). Nahabedian’s cousin, Carrie Nahabedian, co-owner and James Beard Award-winning chef, plans to host even more of these teas—non-holiday related—with local female business owners throughout the year. This is in addition to the cooking classes she hosts during daytime hours prior to dinner service.
“Our cooking classes are highly personal and enjoyable,” says Carrie Nahabedian. “They are customized, relaxed and a great experience in a professional kitchen.”
Tickets are $250 each and include the cooking class and a three-course luncheon paired with wine. A 50-seat restaurant now has the potential to bring in an extra $12,500 in revenue—all before dinner service begins.
“Clients see Brindille as the jewel that it is; very detailed in design and perfect for private events for two to 50 people,” continues Nahabedian. “Because we host a monthly cooking class and wine luncheon, plus our popular ‘French Afternoon Teas,’ private events have been a big force in our success. Guests know we’re not just a space for dinner.”
Michael and Carrie Nahabedian have successfully added 15 percent to their bottom line through private events each year. In the restaurant business, that’s gold.