5 Rules for Booking a Private Dining Room — or Even a Whole Restaurant

You get what you pay for — including the leftovers.

The private dining area of a restaurant

Gary Burchell / Getty Images

Everyone is used to going to a restaurant and sharing it with scores of other people, most or all of them strangers. But what if you wanted to have the entire restaurant for yourself so that you and your friends were the focus of the staff? If your pockets are deep enough, it’s probably possible. Lots of restaurants are willing to close down to the public and let your party take it over. If not the entirety of the restaurant, they may offer a private room for your special occasion. From birthdays to weddings to a viewing party of the final episode of The Great British Baking Show, sometimes it’s the perfect solution, but there are a few things to think of in advance.

Does the restaurant even do buyouts or have a private dining room? 

Not every restaurant will jump at the chance to host your event, but you won’t know until you ask. If they’re used to renting out the space, they’ll probably have an events manager who will be able to answer all your questions. If it’s not a normal thing for them, they might be willing to consider it. Most restaurants will be happy to have a guaranteed number of customers for a special event rather than taking a chance on a random Thursday night where it can be super busy or dead as a doornail. Restaurants will see it as a bird in the hand and more valuable than two birds in an empty bush, er, restaurant. 

Some days of the week are better than others

Booking a restaurant is going to be more affordable on a weekday rather than a weekend, especially if you’re hoping to take over the whole restaurant. If they’re going to close down to host your baby shower, they’ll need to make at least as much money as they would have if they were open to the public. Do you want to pay them as much as they’d make on a Saturday night when every table is full and there’s a 30 minute wait or pay them what they’d make on a Tuesday night when they close an hour earlier and the restaurant never fills up? 

Ask as far in advance as you can

This is most important with a private room because they get booked way in advance. If you’re planning a holiday office party for December and try to book it the week after Thanksgiving, you’re living in a dream world. Well, unless you’re willing to have your party on a Monday. In that case, you’ll have a better chance of getting the space, but your coworkers might hate you when they drag into work on Tuesday morning. But hey, at least you got something booked.

The price and menu are set, but the leftovers are yours

More than likely, a special menu will be made available for you with a predetermined price and specific food options. This will be decided well before your big event, so don’t expect to make changes on the day of. If you agreed to 50 guests and only 30 showed up, be prepared to pay the full price. Bring Tupperware because that food is yours whether it gets eaten at the restaurant or two days later after sitting in your fridge. Adding more drinks to the already set menu? Be ready to put your money where your thirsty mouth is.

It doesn’t mean you own the restaurant

Having the place to yourself might make you feel like a restaurant owner, but you’re not. You still need to follow the same guidelines that you’d normally follow when dining in public. Be polite to the staff, maintain a modicum of decorum, and keep your shoes on. Seriously, you’d be surprised at how many people think it’s okay to walk around barefoot in a restaurant. Closing time still means it’s time to go home unless you speak to the person in charge about extending your stay. As with everything, that will involve an extra cost. 

Restaurants want to be hospitable and they want to make money. That’s literally their purpose. If you feel like elevating your next event, consider booking a private room or taking over the whole place. It’s not as intimidating as it might seem and it will make whatever event you’re celebrating all that more special.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles