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Minimum food charge for banquet/party function

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Let's try this again.

 

How long has the industry been enforcing a minimum charge for food with functions? 

 

I'm trying to set up a party with The Jefferson Hotel here in Richmond and they've informed me that for 250-400 people we have an $18,000.00 minimum purchase for food. This does not include a tax and gratuity of 31.3% or bar on top of a $5000 room charge. I understand I've been out of things for a while but not that far out. 

 

The heck with it. Second attempt didn't attach a poll so never mind. 

post #2 of 16

I don't know but OMG.  You can't have it at the Holiday Inn?  Serious.

post #3 of 16

What is the name of their banquet room, "where the sun don't shine"? That is past absurd...way past.

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post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

I keep going back to the email reply like I'm missing something and it was $1800.00 but it clearly states $18,000.00 minimum. Not likely a typo because you need to type the comma and decimal. Doohhh!!!!

 

Seriously starting to consider the H.I. but we've had the food there for a sports banquet and umm, errr uhhh......

 

Event is in November so I expected a slight elevation to the cost but not even close to that much.

 

Estimating bar, tax/gratuity, I've calculated the PPA to be between $100 and $150 just for the hotel portion alone. This doesn't include any Band/DJ or other entertainment for the evening.

 

I didn't realize until just a few minutes ago until the DW explained it to me but.......her company booked a party there in January for Management and spouses. They wanted to do off the menu for approx 50 and were told that if they intended on doing that, the entree price for all would be the highest cost of the entree ordered, regardless of what everyone else ordered. So....if one person ordered a $60 entree and 49 ordered a $30 entree, all 50 people would be charged $60 plus the customary 31.3% tax/service charge. Needless to say they settled on a one entree POS buffet and that cost almost as much as the individual dinner cost. 

 

It's truly a beautiful hotel but I'm beginning to believe they suffer from a Diva complex and it just hit me.......if they didn't want our group it would have been easier to say the date was booked. By the way, the function I'm trying to book is a Cocktail party not a wedding or a full course dinner so the more I think about it the more I'm leaning toward believing they're nuckin' futz.

post #5 of 16

31.3% tax/service charge?  What is the tax in your area?

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post
 

31.3% tax/service charge?  What is the tax in your area?

In the city we live in, we have one of the highest meals taxes at 10% for dine in and I believe in Richmond, where the event would be held, it's 6%. 

post #7 of 16

So then they are charging 25.3% for gratuity?  That's nuts!!!  Although the whole thing seems insane.

 

So let's look at this:  $18,000 minimum for food + minimum of $5,600 in alcohol (400 people@ 2 drinks per person with average price of $7-and that is probably low with this hotel) + 31.3% tax and gratuity + $5,000 room charge

 

That comes to $23,600 for food and drink + $7387 tax and gratuity + $5,000 room charge = $35,987 or $90 per person at 400 people.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

For a cocktail party!

 

Edit;

 

And that's if we had 400 ppl. I was thinking we would've been lucky to get 300 but not at that price.

 

I just received a reply from asking about the "minimum" and was told that this; 

 

"When you book an event at our hotel in the Grand Ballroom we require that you spend at least a minimum of $18,000 (before tax/service) in food.

A lot of hotels have room rentals and food and beverage minimums when hosting events."

 

Edit 2;The room rental is $5,000 plus a food minimum of $18,000 (before tax/service 31.3%). The cash bar wouldn’t apply towards the food minimum.

post #9 of 16

Yeah, that's nuts.  Are you sure that the the $18,000 doesn't include the bar sales also?  As someone who used to do a lot of catering, our minimums were for food and beverage.

post #10 of 16

Look for a country club or something which does these kinds of things man.  I'm sure you can find something else.

 

I'd just say thanks but no thanks to this hotel.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks Kuan! Had a feeling that would be the end result once I saw the email but had to get some confirmation (and blow off some steam too)...like I said, it's been a while and all. Funny thing is a couple years ago I contacted them and they were much more accommodating than now

 

Located a couple other places and while the rental is still a bit steep, it's the ambiance we'd be willing to pay for. Something about an old train station.

 

'm leaning toward a couple specific ones in the area. The layout of a those special few makes them ideal so now to find catering and bar....

 

Later


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/1/15 at 5:49am
post #12 of 16

book a restaurant you'll probably cut your cost by more than half

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"Ars Est Celare Artem"

 

True art, is to conceal art......

 

https://www.instagram.com/smokehouse_84/

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post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldschool1982 View Post
 

Thanks Kuan! Had a feeling that would be the end result once I saw the email but had to get some confirmation (and blow off some steam too)...like I said, it's been a while and all. Funny thing is a couple years ago I contacted them and they were much more accommodating than now

 

Located a couple other places and while the rental is still a bit steep, it's the ambiance we'd be willing to pay for. Something about an old train station.

 

'm leaning toward a couple specific ones in the area. The layout of a those special few makes them ideal so now to find catering and bar....

 

Later

 

 

To be fair, you're attempting to book the Grand Ballroom, in not only the finest hotel in the city, but one of the finest in the country. They only have one ballroom, and no matter whether you are only looking to host a cocktail party or not, if you occupy the room, then they can't sell it to someone looking to have their dream wedding, more than happy to spend $200-250+ per head. Thus, the exorbitant cost. Not worth it in my mind either, but I can't find fault with them holding to their price, especially if they have the demand for the limited space. Do they have a smaller on-site venue that could work that may be within your budget? More likely, as others have said, you need to lower your sights and find an alternative venue.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

To be even more fair, we didn't ask for the Grand Ballroom. Our criteria was explained and the hope was for the Rotunda Mezzanine or Empire rooms. 

 

Your are correct in your statement since there are always two sides to the coin maybe you didn't realize that I've stood on both sides of this seeing a plethora of both the good and bad that makes up the catering/banquet side of this industry. Please understand I'm not some "wet behind the ear kid" replying in anger with an ax to grind or someone with misplaced shock and plain old dismay but a seasoned, almost 40 year veteran with far more experience than I honestly wish to explain. All that said above, I was and continue to be "floored" by the thought of the charge. 

 

For the record and so I don't come off as a complete "loose canon", this event along with several others to follow have the Jefferson at their core. That being the case, I did reply requesting we possibly look at a different room (the two mentioned above), while also explaining the prior so the hope is we can come to an agreement. The task that needs to be accomplished would be much easier with their help but the first event can't kill the entire project before it gets off the ground. 

 

The original post was also to have been a "poll" since I was not only curious about this in today's industry but I really needed to determine if this "charge" was something that we would need to contend with. Personally, I have never worked with, seen heard of or ever dreamed of a minimum charge and on a scale such as that. About the only thing I ever used was a deposit to cover the food purchase and that was only after a certain date was passed prior to the event. 


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/3/15 at 5:32pm
post #15 of 16

I apologize at the lack of clarity in my response. I'd personally tell them to go pound sand, as I agree the sum is stratospheric for a cocktail party. There are a small handful of spaces locally that enjoy such exclusivity of luxury and locale that they, too, require outrageous tariffs for their events. My Sister In Law lost a deposit on a 250 person wedding party last year at one such venue, a full year before the wedding were to be held when the couple split up. Her loss? $40,000k. So, I guess my point is, although you and I may both agree the fees are ridiculous, these places can get them because there are enough people willing to pay for the exclusivity they offer. I have doubts your request for a lesser venue than the Grand Ballroom would be shot down if the alternative that those end up going empty, but who knows for sure?

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

It's all good! It'll be interesting to see what they have to say.

 

There is such a disparity between venues here it's ridiculous. Everything is limited in size and many of the old venues that would work have been closed, vacated or torn down. This whole area seems about 20 years behind the times or maybe I was just spoiled with some of the areas we've lived. Plus we hear of so many people crying they can't fill their halls or make any money because business is slow. The reason it's slow is they've forgotten the first rule of the business, hospitality. It's "I want your business but you're going to do it the way I tell you". How the heck can you stay in business doing that? Granted I can't expect anyone else to conform to what I believe is correct but the scary thing is....what I believe is only because it's what I was taught and was once the standard or norm. I guess that's why there are now so few.  

 

Sucks your sister lost all that money. IMHPO.......that's borderline extortion or even grand larceny if you ask me.  

 

In the end for us, there's always Richmond Raceway Complex. They rent out there Torque club, a 15,000 sq ft venue that, if I can determine is located for easy access to more than just a couple of invitees, might be a solution. Not the perfect solution but then..... what is?

 

I guess my next question is..... What is the ya'lls professional perception of Americrown? They are the the exclusive caterer for all their tracks and the only way we can rent the space is to use them. 


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/3/15 at 8:26pm
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