Private Event Mysteries Exposed!

“I just looked at your private event information online. You’re joking, right?” asked the young woman who didn’t sound like she was laughing.

“I’m sorry?” I responded, not sure what supposed punch line she thought I had uttered.

“The room fee. You’re joking. As much money as you will make off of me, you’ll ding me for a room fee?”

Oh, that punch line.

“Yes, we do charge a nominal room fee for all of our private events.”

“Oh, sure,” she said in such an overtly snide manner, I knew the bait was going to be easy to ignore from this point on.

“What date are you interested in again?” I asked.

“And soft drinks–you’re going to charge me, and anyone who wants one, for a diet soda?” she kept going, unchecked. “I have so many pregnant friends! You can’t charge them! They can’t drink alcohol. And you’ll make them pay for that?”

“Yes, ma’am, we do charge for both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.”

“Really? That is outrageous. Outrageous! I can go to any other place in this city, where I will spend a hundred thousand or more on my event, and do you think they will charge me a couple of dollars for a ginger ale?”

Yes, if they intend to stay in business.

“I’ve already talked to the new restaurant two blocks over, you know. They seem very willing to work with me, as if they want my business.”

Okay, time out. We both know you aren’t spending 100K anywhere on a dinner for 65 guests, especially at the new spot. If you are already beating me up during this first phone call about an event that I am confident you will not book with me, please, do call my competition. Let me give you some names and numbers. It is my pleasure.


“I know you said we can only select one dessert for our 100 guests, but we’ve chosen three, okay?”

Actually, no, it’s not okay. This was never an option. I explained this to you when you asked about it before you booked two months ago, when you booked six weeks ago, and again yesterday when the menu selections were due. Go with the creme brulee–everyone loves it.


“We’ve decided to have our guests order off the regular dinner menu. We don’t want to limit them.”

Here’s the thing: You booked a private event, and you had ample time to peruse our private event menus before you gave us a deposit. I am sure you’ll have no trouble selecting an entree to serve your guests from our numerous selections. I am sure you know it would be unwieldy to have 175 people order a la carte. Next, you’ll mention something about separate checks. I am sure you are joking.


“We’ll be there a few hours ahead of time to help set up.”

Really, not necessary. Really, the luncheon before your dinner will still be ongoing. Really, our experienced staff can handle it from here, on their own. However, we will certainly have that side table ready for you to put your gift bags on a few minutes before your guests arrive. Will 20 minutes ahead of time suffice? You would prefer 45 minutes? Of course. Bring a book to read.


“I know I guaranteed 45 people two days ago, but only 15 showed. Not my fault. So you won’t charge me for 45, right?”



“I’d like to put a tentative hold on your private room for the first three Thursday evenings and the middle two Wednesday evenings in December for my firm’s holiday party. I’ll get back to you in a few months to tell you which dates you can release.”

Yeah. No, I can’t. I know you know I can’t.


“You don’t really hold people to that food and beverage minimum, do you?”

Yes, we do.


“Here’s my budget. Can we stay within it?”

Maybe. I’ll work up a proposal. Thanks for the heads up now, and not the day before the retirement luncheon you’re planning for your office.


“Do you think we can offer an alternative entree to my aunt with a seafood allergy? Hate to be a pest. I will pay extra for your trouble.”

You are not a pest, and we will be happy to accommodate any allergy or special dietary needs, no extra charge.


“I cannot thank you enough for making this so easy for us. Everything was perfect, and you were so helpful every step of the way. No kidding!”

Thank you! And please, share that sentiment with my GM. No kidding!


“Can we tip more than the gratuity you automatically add on?”







8 responses to “Private Event Mysteries Exposed!”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Are there really people who spend 1.5K per head on a meal? That’s just too scary to get my head around.

  2. Julie Avatar

    Wonderful post. Reminds me of my meeting planning days — breakfasts, morning coffee breaks, lunches, afternoon snack breaks and countless receptions (1,000 people, 4-6 days) — at a hotel or convention center. With so many events and people, we had some room for negotiation.

    When we somewhere for one meal with a smaller group, we don’t even try. There’s just not enough of a profit margin for both parties to be happy.

  3. Fat Lazy Guy Avatar

    I’ve never had creme brulee. I really want to try it though, it looks and sounds delicious. When I was younger I used to hate custard, so that accounts for why I haven’t tasted such a classic.

  4. Brave Astronaut Avatar

    Your writing is getting better and better every post. First up, thanks for the lovely post about your son. It inspired me to write my own. Thank you for that.

    Now as to private parties. As Nate Fisher remarked during one particular episode of Six Feet Under, “I hate the living.” Most of what I do and have done in the past is customer service oriented. It continues to blow my mind that people are unable to stop, breathe, and realize that what they are demanding is really not feasible.

    Your clear ability to manage the unruly and completely insane is a credit to your more than evident warmth and good personality and spirit.

  5. Katie Avatar

    People will never cease to amaze me. Both good & bad.

  6. Lisa Avatar

    Brings back memories – both good and bad. I really miss my event planning days… until I read the crazy things people say and just want to smack them all over again. LOL

  7. question girl Avatar

    â??Do you think we can offer an alternative entree to my aunt with a seafood allergy? Hate to be a pest. I will pay extra for your trouble.â?

    You are not a pest, and we will be happy to accommodate any allergy or special dietary needs, no extra charge.

    when i was in college, i was in a VERY SMALL sorority (with dates, there were 24 of us in all.) so instead of having a formal on year, we had a formal dinner at a VERY NICE resturant instead. Lets just say i am VERY glad i sat at a 4 top as opposed to the 2 round 10’s in the corner

    I have SEVERE allergies to, well – EVERYTHING. I was involved in the menu. At the meeting when we chose the menu i VERY SPECIFICALY asked every sister about allergy issues. NO ONE SPOKE UP.

    When i made the dinner arrangements, the ONLY issue was the dessert filling – for me… a strawberry filling in a white chocolate swan… so i asked if i could have mine w/o filling – they offered me a chocolate mousse filling instead at no charge.

    Needless to say, one of the girls had a tempertantrum during dinner because she was allergic to her entree – THAT SHE CHOSE!

  8. savannah Avatar

    food & beverage…gotta love it! great story and oh so true! thanks