The concept of private dining is not exactly new. For centuries people have shared meals as a way to celebrate milestones. Today, we may not need a formal reason to get together for a meal. After months at home during the pandemic, the get-together at a restaurant can be reason enough. It’s vital that restaurants and venues offer next-level, unique private dining experiences in order to stand out.
There’s no singular definition of what a private dining experience can entail. Generally, it’s about taking the idea of private dining one step further. You can do this by incorporating a memorable, immersive experience. Think about the setting, theme, special interaction, or something in between. Below, we’re sharing a few trends that truly elevate dining experiences.
1. Chef’s table experiences
Chef’s tables are arguably one of the most well-known dining experiences. The allure of these meals is the connection guests get to make with the 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 and 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 and attract new business through your doors. Alinea in Chicago offers a modernist cuisine chef’s table. Up to six guests can enjoy an immersive multi-course meal prepared by a Michelin 3-Star rating winner.
2. Farm-to-table dining
The farm-to-table trend has been gaining popularity for years. More diners are flocking to eateries with menus that leverage fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Farm-to-table is a concept that’s open to interpretation. Some restaurants highlight local meats and produce on seasonally rotating menus. Alternatively, 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.
3. Fine dining, curated plates, and wine pairing
Specially prepared, custom meals along with wine pairings will sure to bring your private dining to the next-level. Consider menu options that are varied and offer tiered options with special add-ons.
While elegant offerings are sure to win over your guests, make sure you will be able to execute them well. Think about fresh, seasonal ingredients that are local or hyper-local. Add some beautifully printed menus to put plate-side. If feasible, have your sommelier or waitstaff mingle with party guests to help with pairing the food with some nice wine options.
4. 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 1970s or Old Hollywood party?), and holidays (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. Put some thought into the menu design, cocktail names, and party decor.
5. Pop-up dinners
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.
6. Dinner and a movie, music, or “murder”
Who doesn’t love a dining experience with a side of entertainment? For those with the means, space, and 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.
Alternatively, there are still plenty of options to bring your private dining to the next-level. 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 or action film.
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Tripleseat’s customer, Bube’s Brewery uses their charm and hosts a murder mystery dinner.
7. Virtual-reality private dining
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 and beginning in the U.S. 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.
8. Catering and meal kits
Catered ready-to-eat dishes and custom meal kits that allow customers to cook their own elevated dishes at home continue to be a growing trend. Triggered by the 2020 shutdown, many food establishments expanded their private dining to include take-out, delivered food items, and ready-to-cook items. This market segment is expected to continue as customers continue to want a variety of options to experience great food.
Don’t just deliver the food but create an experience! Think about what you can do to amplify how you display or package your food. We’ve seen Instagram-worthy food towers and beautiful, inventive packaging. Elevate your recipes and add personalization to your customer’s experience.
Check out Tripleseat customer Vestals Catering and how creatively they display their catered food.
Use the best tools to plan your private dining
Whichever concept you choose to elevate your private dining options, make sure you have the best event management tools, like Tripleseat to streamline the planning process. Schedule a live demo today.