The concept of private dining is not exactly new. Groups of people have gathered together to connect over a good meal for hundreds of years. This long history means it’s even more vital that restaurants and venues that offer private dining services find unique ways to stand out.
One way to do that is through private dining experiences.
There’s no singular definition of what a private dining experience can entail. Generally, it’s about taking the idea of private dining a step further. You can do this by incorporating a memorable, immersive experience through the setting, theme, special interaction, or something in between. Below, we’re talking about a few common types of these elevated dining experiences.
Chef’s tables are arguably one of the most well-known dining experiences. The allure of these meals is the connection you get to make with a chef. Often, chef’s tables are situated near a restaurant’s kitchen. This allows for more exposure and interaction with the chef. The chef greets diners, then brings out and explains each course. Often, dishes are off-menu, come with wine pairings, or are exclusive to the chef’s table experience.
A chef’s table is a great way to give guests a memorable, out-of-the-ordinary experience. This, in turn, may prompt them to spread the word about your spot and attract new business through your doors.
The farm-to-table trend has been gaining popularity for years, as more diners choose to flock to eateries with menus that leverage fresh, locally sourced ingredients. And it’s another concept that’s open to interpretation. Some restaurants highlight local meats and produce on seasonally rotating menus. Others take it a step further by growing their own herbs, housing their own chicken coops, and even maintaining their own apiaries (an area of beehives) to have a steady supply of honey on site.
Want to add a fun twist to your usual farm-to-table offerings? You could partner with a local farm to host a dinner on their premises. Farms often feature expansive land that’s the perfect setting for a dinner party. All you need are a few chairs, a long table, and minimal decor. Add a tent if you’re concerned about weather conditions, and you’ve got a recipe for a special experience.
Want more? Check out our guide, The Rise of Private Dining Experiences.
Themed Dining Events
Who doesn’t love a party with a theme? Whether you go the chic, understated route (like a black-and-white New Year’s Eve soiree) or silly and fun (perhaps a circus-themed birthday bonanza), themes are a great way to add some creative flair to an event. The same goes for private dining.
One of the best parts of opting for a themed experience is that there are virtually endless options from which to choose. Popular theme genres include pop culture (like your favorite celebrity), decades (who doesn’t love a good ‘80s or Old Hollywood party?), and seasonality (like Halloween, Cinco de Mayo, or a tacky Christmas sweater get-together). No matter the theme you choose, you and your client can incorporate it into various elements of the event as well. Think: the menu design, cocktails names, and party decor.
One of the most beneficial ways to generate buzz about your private dining experiences is through pop-up bars and restaurants. These special events can highlight anything from a guest chef or mixologist to an immersive theme like the holiday season or a popular TV show.
Generally, pop-up experiences are only hosted for a limited time. That could mean once a week, a month, or one time only. Not only are pop-up dinners a great way to get creative with your private dining program, but they can also attract new customers, let your kitchen try out new menu items, and give people a reason to spread the word.
Dinner & A Movie, Music, or “Murder”
Who doesn’t love a dining experience with a side of entertainment? For those with the means, space, and the equipment, having onsite entertainment can give you an edge over your local competition. Bube’s Brewery in Pennsylvania hosts Murder Mystery dinners in their Catacombs Restaurant. The area is located several stories below street level in Bube’s Brewery’s cellar and comes complete with blood-red tablecloths and ample candlelight.
If you don’t want to stage a faux-crime, there are still plenty of options. Got a scenic rooftop or spacious patio? Consider hosting live music (acoustic or electric, depending on your location’s capabilities). Got a large empty wall? You could project a movie that’ll play into the mood of the event, like a classic Old Hollywood or action film.
You may have heard that some are calling virtual reality (or VR) the future of the immersive dining experience. The trend is gaining serious traction internationally in places like Japan. Thus, it’s only a matter of time until the U.S. restaurant industry catches on in a big way. Part of the aim of these VR experiences is to make it easier than ever for diners to post high-quality food images on social media platforms, whether it’s the ambiance of the eatery or the food itself.
VR bars have already cropped up in a handful of major cities. The multi-sensory experience allows venues to transport diners to another environment — all from right inside their walls.
To dig deeper into why more private dining clients are craving events that leave a lasting impression, check out our new guide: The Rise of Private Dining Experiences. To see how we can take your events program to the next level, request a demo!