Private dining is more than a secluded spot for guests to enjoy a meal away from other diners. It’s a fully-functioning arm of your restaurant that adds another layer to what you offer and increases revenue.
These spaces are becoming more popular with guests, and offering private dining at your restaurant can help you take things to another level. With that in mind, this guide has everything you need to know about how to create and advertise the perfect private space in your restaurant.
Why private dining rooms?
Private dining rooms can be a great addition during busy times of the year, such as the festive season. But when done right, they offer year-round benefits that give your restaurant another dynamic.
One of the most immediate benefits of restaurants with private dining rooms is the potential for increased revenue. These exclusive spaces can be booked for a variety of events, from corporate dinners to intimate celebrations, providing a steady income stream separate from the general dining area.
Private dining rooms offer versatility, whether it’s formal dinners or casual gatherings. You can do it all to appeal to a wide range of diners. And let’s not forget, this adaptability is also a smart way to use your space more efficiently. As well as broadening your restaurant’s appeal, you’re also optimising operations.
Private dining rooms can offer a unique selling point for restaurants. Having one provides an edge over competitors that don’t offer the same feature, making it more likely that someone in the area will choose your spot if they’re after a private dining function.
A chance to impress
With a private dining room, guests get a unique, personalised experience that can convert them from one-time diners visiting with their party into repeat guests. The exclusivity and tailored service that comes with these private spaces often exceed customer expectations, leading to positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. This, in turn, enhances the restaurant’s reputation and customer loyalty.
The addition of a private dining room can be a smart strategic move that offers multiple benefits. From revenue generation and customer satisfaction to versatility and competitive edge, private dining rooms are a worthwhile investment for any restaurant.
How to set the scene with your private dining room
Setting the scene in your restaurant’s private dining room involves more than laying out some tables and chairs. It’s an art form that combines various elements to create a memorable dining experience.
The overall vibe of the room sets the tone for the evening. Whether you’re aiming for a romantic, intimate setting or a lively, social atmosphere, the ambience is the invisible thread that ties everything together. It’s the difference between a forgettable meal and an unforgettable experience.
Importance of lighting
Never underestimate the power of good lighting. It can make your food look appetising, your décor look stunning, and your guests look and feel fabulous. Soft, warm lighting creates a cosy, intimate atmosphere, while brighter, cooler lighting energises a room. The key is to have adjustable lighting to suit different moods and events.
Music and sound
The right playlist elevates the dining experience to new heights. Whether it’s soft jazz for a small gathering or upbeat tunes for a birthday celebration, the music should complement the mood you’re trying to set. Just remember, the volume should be set at a level where it adds to the atmosphere but doesn’t drown out conversation. Guests may also wish to bring their own playlist.
Decor and theme
Last but not least, the décor should align with the restaurant’s overall theme or concept. Whether it’s minimalist chic, rustic charm or opulent luxury, the décor sets the visual tone of the room. Consider elements like artwork, table settings and even the colour scheme to create a cohesive look.
Consider sem-private dining spaces
If your restaurant doesn’t have the space to facilitate a private dining room, you can effortlessly carve out an area. To make a private area without building walls, use curtains to separate the space. Spread tables a bit further apart to give a private feel. Add some plants or string lights to make it special. This way, you can host events when needed and still use the space for regular dining when it’s not booked.
Close the restaurant
Consider offering your whole restaurant for private bookings, especially if you’re a smaller venue. Before you jump in, crunch the numbers to see if pricing is right for a full-venue hire. You can also test the waters by allowing hires just before or after busy hours. Full buyouts are attractive to various groups because they give them exclusive access to your space, and people are usually willing to pay a little more for the privilege.
Making the right menu choices
Your menu choices will shape the dining experience, especially in a private setting where guests have more expectations. Here’s how to make it exceptional:
Offering a tailored menu adds a personal touch that guests truly appreciate. It shows thoughtfulness and attention to detail, making the event feel exclusive. Customisation can range from mixing and matching elements of the menu to offering items not available on the regular menu. This not only adds a unique twist to the dining experience but also serves as a major selling point when people are deciding where to book their special event.
The magic of a great meal often lies in the perfect pairing of food and drink. Suggesting wines, cocktails, or even mocktails that complement the flavours of the menu will only add to the overall dining experience. For instance, a crisp white wine might go beautifully with a seafood dish, while a robust red could be the perfect match for a hearty steak. Don’t overlook non-alcoholic options, either. A well-crafted mocktail can be just as satisfying and can make non-drinkers feel included in the experience.
Sure, the menu needs to capture the imagination. But the service is equally as important for creating a guest experience that goes beyond expectations. Your staff should be well prepared to provide a five-star service to private dining guests.
Having a team that’s trained in the art of private dining is a big help. They should know the ins and outs of the more intimate settings found with private dining. Offering an even more personalised service than usual and paying attention to the minute details will go a long way to crafting an excellent private dining set-up.
Staff should be trained to anticipate guests’ needs, respond promptly to requests and manage any issues with grace and professionalism. They are unlikely to be in demand during a private dining function, which means being alert and ready takes on even more importance.
Upselling is another skill that can enhance revenue and guest satisfaction. Staff should be adept at subtly suggesting add-ons or premium options that complement the guest’s choices without being pushy.
Handling the crowd
A thorough understanding of the customised menu is also vital. Staff need to be able to explain the dishes, the ingredients used, and how they are prepared to lots of people at once. They should also be knowledgeable about the beverage pairings, offering suggestions that will enhance the dining experience.
Marketing your private dining experience
Marketing your restaurant with a private dining room is essential for attracting bookings and maximising its revenue potential.
Dedicate a website section promoting your private dining room. From high-res images that capture attention to testimonials of guests saying what a great time they had, your webpage should highlight all that’s good. Round it up with a bold call-to-action so people can make a reservation.
Leverage social media with platforms like Instagram, Facebook to spotlight your private dining space. Share snaps of chic table setups, special dishes, and joyful guests to spark buzz. Amp it up with targeted ads to reel in those hunting private dining spots.
Table tents displaying information about the private dining room can catch the eye of diners already enjoying your restaurant, making them more likely to consider it for their own events.
Staff can also be trained to mention the private dining room as an option for special occasions, effectively upselling during service.
Additionally, forming partnerships with local event planners can be a win-win situation. They get a reliable venue to recommend to their clients, and you get a steady stream of bookings.
Show what makes your space so special
Listing your seating capacity or space size is useful, but what will truly make your restaurant memorable is its unique features. This is where you need to put your event planner hat on and convey what makes you special. Whether it’s a standout dish, live entertainment or unique event concepts, focus on these elements to explain why your venue is the perfect choice for a special occasion.
Adapting to the seasons and holidays not only keeps your offerings fresh but also makes your venue more appealing for various types of events 365 days a year.
Adapting for holidays and seasons
When it comes to decor, think about how you can easily switch elements to suit different seasons or holidays. For instance, during the festive period, a few tasteful decorations and a warm, cosy atmosphere can make restaurants with private dining rooms the go-to for holiday parties.
Come summer, lighter fabrics, fresh flowers and a brighter colour palette can transform the space into an ideal location for summer soirees. The key is to have versatile decor elements that are easy to swap out but make a significant impact on the room’s ambience.
Seasonal menu changes
A static menu can get stale, no matter how exquisite the dishes are. Keep it fresh with seasonal menu options that sync up with the time of year. That might be comfort food in the winter or lighter bites during the warmer months. The aim is to create an experience that goes beyond the regular menu and gives private diners something a little different.
Measure progress throughout the year
Many restaurants overlook the importance of monitoring their performance in the world of private dining. Consistently measure your progress to identify what’s effective and what needs improvement.
After rolling out a new marketing campaign, keep tabs on the increase in enquiries or bookings for private events. Comparing these figures with data from the previous year or months can also be enlightening.
You can then set future goals based on this information. Remember that it’s a learning curve, and without these metrics, you won’t know what adjustments are needed.
Summary: in private
Setting the scene in your private dining room requires a holistic approach. Get it right, and you’ll create a private dining setting that impresses guests and adds to the occasion.