Whether you are trying to impress a new client or taking existing clients out for dinner, choosing the right venue is the first key to a memorable experience.
The main reason for hosting a business dinner is to build relationships. In fact, we seldom talk business at dinner, but always try to learn as much as we can about our clients. An amazing experience at the right restaurant is a trademark of success. However, a flop can ruin your chances of getting your clients out again and be a real hurdle to building strong relationships.
Those of you who entertain clients a lot know that typical business restaurants can, well, be a bit boring. Try these tips for vetting restaurants in your city. Rather get a recommendation from us? Drop us a line at Concierge.
- Ask friends (or the Internet) about their experience: When you’re sitting down with a client you want to focus on business, not when the food is coming is coming out. Verify that the service is friendly and consistent with two or more sources. It can also be nice to know if the restaurant has sommeliers on hand in case you need a wine recommendation.
- Test it out before you bring important clients: Review sites like Yelp and TripAdviser can be great for getting a general feel for the restaurant, but typically posts are very negative or very positive. (Who shares a blah dinner, anyway?) Stopping by for lunch or dinner allows you to assess the service in a lower stakes atmosphere.
- Look at the floor plan: A well-spaced dining room can make all the difference when you need to have a private or confidential conversation. Check that the tables have a good amount of space in between them, or ask the reservationist if any booths or private dining rooms are available.
- Check the seating policy: Many restaurants in major cities will not seat you until the whole party has arrived, which looks a little embarrassing if one person gets tied up at the office. We prefer to choose restaurants that seat their customers at the reservation time (even better if they’ll seat you early).
- Review the menu: The food should at least be good if you’ve chosen to host a business dinner. Check for entrees that are easy to eat — a steak, chicken dish, and a vegetarian option are always nice — and find a few others that have a wow factor. Dessert with dramatic tableside presentations or multi-level seafood towers turn heads in the dining room and leave a lasting impression on your guests.
- Carefully examine trendy places: New restaurants often take a few weeks to really perfect the dining experience. While snagging a table at the hottest spot in town can show that you’re current, ensure the food and service are up to your standards before your big meal.
What made your favorite business dinner unforgettable? Tell us about it in the comments!