Buying out fine dining restaurants is something I am a big fan of for several reasons. But lately, I am a bit frustrated. I negotiated a buyout of a big-name chef restaurant in Orlando and very clearly told the catering manager up-front that I was going have some menu tweeks. The catering manager said, “Fine, no problem. We will be flexible.”
They were … until last week, when it was time to honor the menu tweeks.
It is important to have some flexibility with the menu because their big-name chef and staff don’t know my customers and their flavor profiles as well as I do. I am not doing this to be difficult, I am doing it because it is in the best interest of “our customer.” Catering managers of fine dining restaurants: You need to understand there are times that the menu items that you have for people that are strolling in and out as transient dinners don’t translate as well for the group dining experience.
So, my dear readers, would you like an example of the horrific menu change that I wanted to do away with that was “just not possible”? Garlic mashed potatoes. Or, in their words, “garlicky mashed potatoes.” Yup, that’s right. Besides the fact that garlic mash went out with the ’90s, they were serving this with a fish dish to a group whose goal for the evening was to sit and network. I wanted to trade the garlic mash for another starch to get rid of the garlic. (Plus, mashed potatoes don’t go with fish — they both have a soft consistency and are too close in color.) Need I state the obvious? No one wants to have garlic breath when networking.
In summation, I’d like to remind big-name chef restaurants to take a step back and concentrate on what is pleasing to our customers, not their egos. What I have learned is whether you are a big name or no-name chef, you should check your ego at the door and pick it up on the way out. It will help everyone walk away with a much better group dining experience.
Everyone have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!