illustration of wine and snacks on serving tray for cocktail party

Restaurant Party Packages & How to Build Them

Party packages are a great way for the Johnsons to book Grandma June’s birthday party at their favorite local Italian restaurant, but they’re also a huge help for larger, more complex, or professional events. But when it comes to constructing a restaurant party package, there’s a lot to consider.

This post explores what restaurant party packages are and what they could be. We’re diving deep into the business potential behind private bookings and examining what people really want from an event package. Join us as we discuss what most party packages include, how they’re priced, why planners love them, and why more restaurants should offer them.

Restaurant party packages for the uninitiated

What are party packages?

Party packages are all-in-one booking solutions that cater to a wide array of private events, including social and corporate gatherings. They communicate what is included in a particular party experience, such as venue rental, food, alcohol, and event service. They detail the fixed-price cost of hosting an event in a specified space on a designated date, such as a banquet hall, private dining room, or the entire venue. Planners can expect party packages to vary in size and pricing based on the number of attendees, courses, and the requested food service style.

What are restaurant party packages?

Although restaurants are wonderful venues for hosting high-end, upscale events, they can do much more. It may surprise you to learn that restaurants can offer party packages for a wide range of private occasions, such as:

  • Anniversaries
  • Holiday parties
  • Birthday parties
  • Business meetings
  • Corporate events
  • Fundraisers
  • Rehearsals
  • Cocktail parties
  • Showers (e.g., bridal or baby)

As in any other industry, some restaurants specialize in a specific product while others target the average consumer. For example, the party packages available at a fine dining restaurant or expensive steakhouse will look much different than those offered by local diners or chain restaurants.

What do restaurant party packages include?

Party package contents vary from restaurant to restaurant. While some locations offer different versions of the same package to accommodate different event sizes, others may have themed packages created for different seasons and party types. Although the specifics may differ, party planners expect restaurant packages to include a few key elements, including:

  • Private event space

Room or venue rental is included in the cost of a restaurant party package. Depending on the establishment’s layout, party packages may offer access to a banquet room, bar area, rooftop, patio, the entire restaurant, or other designated event space.

  • Fantastic food

Restaurant party packages cover a broad spectrum of food and service options in the food and beverage world, from impressive buffet setups to formal sit-down dinners. They may include three courses, five courses, or a smorgasbord of mouthwatering appetizers. Whether for a casual children’s birthday party or a formal rehearsal dinner, one thing is certain: restaurant party packages should feature delectable dishes made with incredible ingredients.

  • Delicious drinks

Restaurant party packages are frequently booked for—don’t overthink it—parties. As a result, many restaurants offer alcohol and bar services for private events. Party packages may include unlimited open bar service, a cash bar (where guests pay for their drinks), or a partial cash bar option that blends the two.

  • Helpful equipment

Warming trays, dinnerware, and other food service equipment are included in the price of a restaurant party package. Microphones, speakers, and other audio-visual equipment may also be available.

  • Superior service

When booking an event at a restaurant, patrons expect excellent service. Although it’s not usually spelled out in the menu, party packages should involve prompt drink service, hot food, smooth cleanup, and responsive staff members.

  • Party supplies

Restaurant party packages may include balloons, hats, banners, welcome gifts, or other party favors. If not included in the package pricing, party supply add-ons may be available for an additional fee.

Instead of finding event space, requesting party supply quotes, and booking a separate caterer, party package bookers only have to find the right host. The venue sets up and executes the party, providing a fabulous event experience for a single package price.

What do planners look for in a restaurant party package?

Professional party and event planners understand the role of food and beverage in meetings and events. They know that fantastic food can make an event, and a crowded setup can break one. When hunting for the right restaurant party package, planners look for appealing event offers that share a few key traits, such as:

1. Affordability

À la carte food service is perfect for small, intimate gatherings. In groups of three or four, guests can select which dishes they’d like to try, indulging in the menu items that spark their interest without the bill growing too large. For large parties, however, a la carte costs rack up quickly.

If you’re planning an event for ten or more people, restaurant party packages are the way to go, as they provide more food for less expense. Party packages tend to be more affordable than full-service catering as well, as it’s common for professional catering companies to require a hefty minimum order to confirm a booking.

2. Flexibility

Party planners love restaurant packages for their flexibility. The same venue may offer fabulous bundles for groups that range from five to 50 people. Additionally, restaurants tend to provide more personalized service than caterers. Because they also operate as a restaurant, party planners can stop by during business hours to try different dishes, make requests, and work with the event team to iron out details.

Restaurant packages give decision-makers the freedom that catering companies usually do not: the option to “try before they buy.” Working with a restaurant directly also makes it easier for party planners to accommodate a variety of guest preferences, manage dietary restrictions, and track allergens.

3. Convenience

In addition to affordability and flexibility, party package seekers are looking for convenience. They’re looking for a venue that can provide food, service, setup, and everything else they need at one easy-to-manage price. Restaurants are often located near shopping, nightlife, and other area attractions, which is one more reason they’re excellent venues for private parties. Moreover, partygoers never have to worry about their food getting cold because it’s right around the corner!

4. Variety

Restaurant party packages offer planners variety. Instead of hunting for a perfect pre-built party menu, decision-makers have a wide array of menu items, flavor combinations, event designs, layout options, themes, and service styles to choose from. With packages ranging from casual and affordable to lavish and luxurious, pricing typically follows this rule: the more you pay, the more you get.

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5. Efficiency

Booking a party package can streamline the entire event planning process. Instead of shopping around, requesting quotes from various vendors, renting equipment, and managing all the other tasks that come with party planning, the restaurant handles all of the work. In addition to setup and service, some restaurants go above and beyond with their package offerings. They may plan a party theme and color scheme inspired by your event, style, or interests.

Professional and private planners frequently seek out restaurant party packages that include tax and gratuities in party pricing, so they don’t have to worry about budgeting for additional or unexpected expenses. They can request quotes from various venues that account for the event’s total cost, making it easy to find a host that meets their needs and budget. Event organizers work out the details and pricing with the venue, and the restaurant handles the rest.

Restaurants are becoming increasingly popular event venues because potential patrons know what they’re getting into, thanks to online reviews. When someone calls to ask about a specific event or package, they read many different restaurant reviews—for your business and others—before considering your venue.

How to market restaurant party packages

Whether you’re looking for ways to improve the restaurant’s current marketing plan or create a catering marketing plan for the very first time, we can help. Boost your marketing potential and attract private event bookings with these helpful tips.

  • Figure out staffing first

Intelligent event staffing increases guest satisfaction, improves service quality, and helps prevent employee burnout. It is essential for managing a restaurant successfully and even more critical when simultaneously hosting public patrons and private events. Determine which employees will oversee party service and if the restaurant will need to hire any new team members to help manage extra event business.

Develop special event booking procedures, guidelines, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for event service. Work with restaurant staff to institute new policies, train on new event service standards, and practice using new tools or software systems.

  • Provide all-in-one event solutions

Make it easier for planners to find a one-size-fits-all solution for their next event. Create an array of party packages to accommodate various group sizes, price points, and event styles. Offer as many services and amenities as possible (and reasonable) at an all-inclusive price. Include taxes and gratuity so there are no hidden costs or surprise expenses, and detail the pricing structure in your event planning contract.

  • Create an inquiry form

Simple event inquiry forms benefit everyone: those just starting to offer party packages, restaurants new to hosting private parties, and seasoned special event venues. Create an inquiry form that any staff member can use to gather details about a potential event, such as the date, number of people, desired package, etc.

Add the inquiry form to the event section of your website, the restaurant’s Google listing, and social media pages. To prevent receiving an influx of callers asking, “How much does the package cost if I,” advertise starting package prices (i.e., starting at $24.99 per person) and request that those interested inquire directly for a more accurate estimate. 

  • Market the restaurant as a premier party venue

Design marketing materials that highlight event services and restaurant party packages. Create lively marketing campaigns that brand your business as both an eatery and an event venue to improve your discoverability and attract more leads. Create a restaurant layout guide, advertise various event setups, and feature current menu items in example packages.

Will the restaurant oversee decorations and entertainment for private parties or just food, service, and space? Show party planners what they can expect from your venue and the collaborative planning experience you offer. Let potential clients know they can be as involved in the planning process as they like and that your team will be available every step of the way.

  • Promote unique packages on social media

Build a robust social media presence to attract new customers while engaging with your online audience. Highlight welcoming restaurant layouts and attractive decor. Feature the best dishes, drinks, and desserts you have to offer or tease upcoming changes in the menu. Capture high-quality images and videos for use in Facebook ads, Instagram stories, or a TikTok hashtag campaign. Promote restaurant party packages with a link to your main website or an event inquiry form.

  • Highlight rave reviews

In today’s world, reviews are king. PowerReviews reports that 99.9% of consumers read customer reviews when shopping online at least some of the time, and 98% see reviews as an essential informational resource. Strengthen your reputation as an event venue by displaying the restaurant’s most glowing reviews.

If the restaurant has hosted private events in the past, like anniversaries or corporate holiday parties, look for specific reviews related to those events. If you’re new to events, that’s okay too! Look for descriptive reviews about the food, service, and atmosphere. Highlight the best responses on printed marketing materials, your website’s main page, event venue listings, and on social media.

  • Raise your community profile

Solidify your position as a premier event venue and party host by exhibiting what you have to offer to community leaders. Build connections with local businesses, planners, and influential residents to boost referrals and future event sales. Offer discounts or rewards for bookings to drive repeat business.

Frequently asked questions about restaurant party packages

If you still have questions about restaurant party packages, check out additional information about pricing, fees, and more, below.

1. How are restaurant party packages priced?

Restaurant party packages are usually priced in one of two ways: per-person pricing or group pricing for a specified number of attendees. For example, a restaurant party package could cost $42.95 per person or $2,000 for a group of 50. Taxes and gratuity may be included in the package pricing, or the restaurant may charge it separately after the event. In some cases, packages may include a venue or décor rental fee with food priced by dish, though this is less common.

2. Do restaurant party packages require a deposit?

Some restaurants require a deposit to hold the space until a designated decision date, while others charge a deposit at the official time of booking. Restaurant party packages may not require a deposit at all and allow the decision-maker to pay up-front in full if they prefer. Prices, restrictions, fees, and payment requirements vary from venue to venue, so carefully read all the clauses before setting your heart on a specific restaurant party package.

3. What does partial bar service in a restaurant party package mean?

Business-related party packages may include a partial cash bar service option as well. This package style covers a certain number of drinks per person, often using a drink ticketing system. Once attendees have used their drink tickets, they are responsible for purchasing any additional beverages. Partial-bar packages are popular for after-hours events, like networking mixers, cocktail parties, and amongst party planners on a tight budget.

4. What other businesses offer party packages?

In addition to restaurants, many other businesses and attractions offer party packages, including bowling alleys, movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, hotels, resorts, skating rinks, amusement parks, zoos, museums, and many others.

Now you’re ready to offer restaurant party packages!

Opening your business up to private parties for the first time can be intimidating, especially if your restaurant is inexperienced with catering. If you plan to cater private events onsite or expand to cater special events on the side, managing both sides of the business simultaneously requires proper planning.

Whether you’re entering the wonderful world of catering for the first time or looking to brush up on the basics, we can help. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about event catering.