17 Ideas for Restaurant Events and Private Spaces

Certain times of the year, such as the holiday season, bring increased demand for restaurant events and private spaces. However, marketing them is a year-round job in the restaurant industry. Planning and promoting private spaces...

Certain times of the year, such as the holiday season, bring increased demand for restaurant events and private spaces. However, marketing them is a year-round job in the restaurant industry. Planning and promoting private spaces ahead of time is crucial to ensure a steady stream of bookings.

Thinking Ahead Is Key

"It may seem early, but people start thinking about their holiday spending and planning private events around May or June," says Marci Liu, co-founder and digital marketing expert at ELMNTL, a Dallas firm specializing in hospitality marketing. According to Liu, bigger corporate events and weddings are being planned all year round, making it essential to consistently market your space to secure these events.

10 Ideas for Restaurant Events

  1. Networking happy hour: Reach out to local businesses or networking groups to promote your restaurant as a venue for hosting these events.
  2. Open mic night: Host an event that attracts local musicians and their fans. Showcase the versatility of your space by offering a limited menu of high-margin items.
  3. Decade night: Contact party planners with a menu of nostalgic dishes from a particular decade. Position your restaurant as the ideal space for a throwback night.
  4. Wine tasting dinner: Collaborate with a local vineyard, winery, or brewery to pair a special menu with their drinks in your private dining space. Market the event to both mailing lists on social media platforms.
  5. Speed dating: Reach out to event organizers in your town who are planning speed dating or other dating events. Offer your restaurant as a venue for these events.
  6. Charity events: Approach smaller nonprofits that may not require a hotel ballroom. Offer your private dining room as an option for their charity dinners.
  7. Guest chef: Collaborate with chefs who may not have their own restaurant. This could be a chef testing a new concept, a food truck operator, or a private chef.
  8. Game night: Set up a big-screen TV in your private dining room to attract sports fans. Offer your space for fantasy sports leagues, March Madness events, or wrestling viewing parties.
  9. Comedy night: Reach out to improv comedy or stand-up comedy troupes in your town. Suggest hosting a showcase in your private dining area for awards dinners or corporate events.
  10. Cooking classes: If space allows, host cooking classes in your kitchen and invite participants to enjoy their creations in your private dining room. Alternatively, collaborate with a local cooking school to use your space for specialized cooking instruction.

Expanding Your Marketing Efforts

With these creative event ideas in mind, it's time to focus on expanding your marketing efforts.

7 Smart Marketing Strategies

"A lot of owners think that if they have a beautiful space, it will magically draw customers without any additional effort," says Liu. However, promoting private dining is an essential part of marketing your restaurant. Here are some tips to craft excellent marketing ideas for restaurant events:

  1. Use your existing channels: Leverage your social media pages, website, and email list to promote your private event space to your existing fanbase and followers.
  2. Show your space in action: Instead of posting empty photos of your private event space, share pictures of people enjoying themselves with food and drinks. Help potential guests visualize their own events in your space.
  3. Convey why you’re special: Highlight what sets your restaurant apart from others. Whether it's a signature dish, live music, or unique event ideas, focus on what makes your events extra special.
  4. Share your space: Offer your space to local writers, artists, and fundraising efforts. This not only spreads awareness about your event space but also creates positive word-of-mouth marketing.
  5. Reach out to past private event guests: Your previous event attendees are likely to book again. Stay in touch with them and nurture the relationship to turn them into ambassadors for your restaurant.
  6. Measure progress: Track the number of leads and bookings resulting from your marketing efforts. Analyze the data to identify what works and what needs improvement.
  7. Do the unexpected: Surprise your clients by going above and beyond their expectations. Dress up staff to match party themes or incorporate special effects to create memorable moments during events.

Marketing your event space requires consistent effort, but it's not overly complicated. By implementing these tips, you can keep your restaurant's private event spaces fully booked throughout the year.