Learn how to prepare for the last celebration of the year

Anyone who works New Year’s Eve in the restaurant industry considers the occasion “Amateur Night.”

It’s the one evening everyone – including infrequent diners – goes out to eat, and restaurants are packed. At the end of the shift, the crew laughs about getting its butt kicked from the endless tickets – and makes fun of the guy who almost brought the line down.

Nothing can prevent epic mishaps on a high-volume, money-making night like New Year’s Eve. Planning, however, can ensure the best outcome and close the year with impressive sales.

Do it right, and you’ll win over customers the other 364 days of the year, too.

 Reduce Reservation No-shows

Get it upfrontNo-shows mean fewer dollars in your pocket and a lost opportunity to impress a diner. Reservations are a must, and taking credit cards to secure them is smart business.

To further discourage no-shows, establish a penalty fee. If the no-show calls after the New Year, offer the fee back in a gift card as a sign of goodwill.

 Cater to Early Birds

No one laughs at 5 p.m. diners if it means specially priced entrées or extras are included with prix fixe. Consider opening 30 minutes earlier for customers attending parties later in the evening, or those who might want an early evening out.

 Keep the Tables Turning

Keep the tables turningOffer a light dinner menu or dessert package for customers seeking reservations after 9 p.m. Don’t reinvent the wheel – offer popular items from the bar menu, heartier salads and signature dishes.

For desserts, offer a tasting of popular items and pair with sparklers, after-dinner cocktails or spiked coffee drinks. Include noisemakers and party hats for free.

 Plan a Smart New Year’s Eve Menu

Plan a smart menuWhatever food you serve, make sure it’s “built for speed.” Consider dishes that can be prepped or slacked out in advance and fired to order.

Love the fryer on New Year’s Eve. Fried foods are fast and can be prepared in advance.


 Staff Right

Treat New Year’s Eve like a Saturday night – on steroids. Don’t skimp on restaurant staffing, and refrain from starting a new hire. You want your top crew for the front and back of the house. You won’t regret scheduling extra managers on the floor.

Staff it rightIf you haven’t figured it out yet, the most important person is the dishwasher. Why not have two on board that night?

Plan a special pre-shift meeting. Be sure staff knows the procedures for handling unruly or intoxicated guests. Also reiterate the importance of the evening. Yes, these may indeed be amateur diners, but they are all potential repeat guests.

What’s your plan of attack for a flawless New Year’s Eve? Share your ideas on Facebook.