New Year's Eve is a great night to boost your sales. It's, quote, "the biggest party night of the year," and that means reservations galore. Expect to pack your tables with customers, both regulars and newcomers, and plan accordingly to give guests what they're looking for. Because it's a big night for celebrating, people are willing to spend a little more, and because you'll be fairly full, keeping things streamlined in the kitchen is essential. A great solution to both of these points? Prix fixe. Appetizer, entree, and dessert allow for simple course options which will be easy for your kitchen to execute quickly, and also will allow you to charge a premium for a table. Here are some tips for optimizing your New Year's Eve dinner flow:
Two seatings are best. Depending on how early you start, you could (probably) seat three turnovers, but attempting to do so may create havoc for tables that want to linger over coffee, in addition to making an early seating with is too early for many people to arrive. A 7 pm and 10 pm seating are ideal - this will allow people plenty of time to linger, enjoy wine and and beverages (increasing your table cost per person) and still give you plenty of space. Consider adding a champagne toast and party favors to your latest seating in order to increase the party atmosphere - and your price point. For reservations, make sure you are marketing reservations in advance, but accept walk ins at the bar with a regular or lighter menu for those more informal drop ins for folks pre-gaming their evening at your establishment prior to dinner or dancing plans.
Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails. This is a night for celebrations, so plan accordingly and offer a couple sparkling and holiday themed cocktails at an additional cost, naturally. Offering a discount on a premium bottle of champagne or sparkling wine will also up your average sale cost. And be sensitive to road safety - partnering with a local driver service or Uber to ensure that designated driving is a key point for drivers will increase both neighborhood safety and the comfort of your guest. Consider printing special check presenters, or just let your staff know to push both alcoholic beverages AND safe driving policies for every table you seat.
Finally - menu options. Rich and over the top cuisine sells a celebration - bust out the lobster or even the foie gras - but ensure that your cover cost reflects a profit while still ensuring your average price point isn't significantly higher than the average restaurant experience would be. In other words - if you're a casual establishment - perhaps offer a kobe burger instead of a $40 dry aged steak option. Another choice is to create entree options which are pricier, but a la carte. So if your prix fixe is priced at $70, have the lobster entree option available for an additional $10. Be sensitive to dietary needs and restrictions also - if you can offer a vegan or a gluten free option - or both! - it will make for a more comfortable dining experience for all.
Here's wishing you and your staff a Happy New Years! Enjoy the holiday and we will see you in 2017.