group of friends eating at a table with food

Whether it’s a holiday, a birthday, or a Sunday morning brunch party, restaurant goers have been known to travel in packs which can be both beneficial and challenging for restaurateurs. Realistically, some restaurants may not have be able to accommodate large groups because of space limitations.

If your restaurant is capable of accommodating groups of 10 or more, your restaurant may find itself on the list for diners en masse. Dining is meant to be a shared experience, which means that your restaurant should be prepared to accommodate groups of all shapes and sizes.

Here are some server tips and tricks to help with the process.

The first key to successfully serving larger groups is to <b>be proactive rather than reactive with your restaurant customer service.</b> If you are unprepared for the 20-person extended family, 30-man soccer team, or 10 co-workers that just walked through your doors then you’re in for a long night.

group of friends getting great restaurant customer service

The two factors restaurant owners should consider in order to provide the best restaurant customer service to groups are spacing and serving.

1- Spacing

If there is a large group coming into your restaurant, restaurant managers will need an open space and a larger table where staff can seat this hungry group. The seating area could be comprised of various smaller tables that fit side-by-side to accommodate the group but offer more versatility when groups aren’t around. Designating a space and set of tables that will be used in these situations is the best way to get groups seated immediately and ensures that there won’t be overcrowding in one area of the restaurant.

Restaurant owners may consider making it a requirement that groups of a certain number need to call in advance and make a reservation for their party. This allows the staff to prepare the necessary space for groups of guests as well as provides the kitchen with some time to prep for a tsunami of impending orders.

2- Serving

Consider who is going to do the serving, what food will be served, and how customers will be paying before they arrive. And then brief the wait staff on the protocol for serving groups.

You can control the conversation and change the way guest communication is handled with proper staff training.

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When there are lots of customers waiting to be fed at once it is not the time for a trial by fire for new or inexperienced wait staff. You will want to put your strongest servers on the table or tables where a large group of diners is seated. Feel free to add additional wait staff to these tables as well.

server tips and tricks for serving groups

Confidence and experience are both necessary when serving groups and restaurant owners will want to use servers that are up to the challenge of handling a large party.

Moreover, things run much smoother in the kitchen if restaurant menu options are limited for large groups. Selecting a few standard items that will be offered to groups of a certain size or providing family style servings simplifies the processing of taking orders and preparing meals. This allows the kitchen to produce a high quantity of a few select meals instead of trying to plate 20 separate dishes at once.

Of course, paying the check at the end of a group meal can get complicated quickly. However, groups of colleagues or friends often divvy up the check amongst each other which means the server could be handed 10 credit cards, cash, and a stick of gum from someone’s pocket when they come to collect the bill. This can be prevented. Servers can ask if the group would like separate checks when they first take guests’ orders and each person can pay their own bill. Otherwise, make sure that your restaurant has a point of sale system that can accommodate multiple payments at once.

If managed properly, the option of serving groups can greatly expand a restaurant’s consumer base. A positive group dining experience can encourage customers to return with more friends and can give your restaurant a reputation as a versatile yet efficient establishment.

Check out Upserve’s guest communication guide!

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Quinn Massaroni is a Rhode Island-based freelance writer, graduate student, and daily eater. Her ideal meal would start off with calamari from Druthers in her hometown of Albany, New York, followed by borscht from Cafe Pushkin in Moscow, dessert from Baked Bear in San Diego, and would finish with a margarita on the Salvation Taco rooftop in New York City.