Sign up to our newsletter for inspiration and advice to help you plan awesome events
A Guide to Using Private Dining Rooms for Events
“Private dining rooms” has long been a popular directory search on Event Birdie. We think the popularity of private dining rooms is due to a few key reasons…
Private Dining Rooms can provide event planners with;
- a private space for exclusive events for small numbers
- restaurant quality food & beverage menus and service
- a room that is well-appointed with little-to-no additional styling required
- a room with built-in audio visual suitable for speeches and presentations (not always, but often)
- and, that extra special feeling you get when on arrival you’re guided to “the left” – away from the main restaurant or bar…. #feelingabitlikearockstarrightnow
Now, however, in 2020 – the year gathering in small numbers is more of a requirement than a luxury – private dining rooms have taken on a whole new level of popularity. Now, one of the main benefits of using a Private Dining Room is that they provide a “safe space” where event planners can host intimate gatherings that meet the current COVID-19 restrictions.
Currently in Australia, restrictions are lifting faster than expected, and we predict that by the time this blog is a month old the restrictions will likely have been changed again.
[Keep up to date with what events are allowed with our Guide To Hosting Events During Covid-19 Restrictions]
So, rather than talk about how at the present time restaurants can only take bookings to a maximum of 10 guests and serve a plated meal in a sit down setting – let’s instead look at how you can use Private Dining Rooms to your advantage now and when life returns to pre-COVID times.
Plus, we let you know where you can go to find the best private dining rooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
What to look for when booking a Private Dining Room?
Private dining rooms vs Semi-private event spaces
A lot of restaurants and bars offer semi-private dining spaces, not to be confused with private dining rooms. Both venue types can be great locations for hosting special celebrations – birthdays, Christmas parties, engagements, anniversaries, etc.
The difference, as the names would suggest, is the level of privacy.
A semi-private dining space is just that – a “space”, which is typically sectioned off from the main dining area by a curtain or decorative wall. Public dinners may be able to see and hear what’s going on in your party. On the plus side, the atmosphere of the restaurant can add a lively ambience to your event.
A private dining room however, is a separate room away from the main restaurant dining area that provides guests total privacy. This makes private dining rooms great for celebrating in, you guessed it, private. This makes private dining rooms perfect if you want to play video, have speeches or invite a secret celebrity guest to your event. They are also good for hosting important closed-door meetings, product launches and presentations.
Restaurant quality food and beverage
One of the main reasons for hosting an event in a private dining room is access to restaurant quality menus. If you want to impress your guests with a meal they won’t forget, attentive service and perhaps an à la carte menu, then hosting an event at a restaurant is a sure-fire way to deliver a top-notch experience.
You’ll also find that hosting your event at one of the City’s best restaurants is a great draw card for many guests too.
*A little side note: While access to fantastic menus is a very good reason to book a private dining room, long gone are the days when event planners had to “put up” with substandard function menus at traditional event venues. Getting a restaurant quality meal and attentive service these days is possible at a lot of venues, hotels, function centres, and even your own home. But we digress…
Restaurant quality service
Again, five stars wait staff are possible anywhere these days, but by choosing to host your event in a private dining room of a restaurant you’re more likely to get staff with extensive hospitality experience, excellent customer service skills, a good knowledge of the menu and wine list and an enthusiastic smile. This is of course an assumption of ours, not something that all places can deliver – but the odds are high.
Styling and décor
One of the great things about using a private dining room is that the space is usually fitted out nicely with good furniture and décor. Very rarely will you find a private dining room that is a complete blank canvas. This means you can save costs by not needing to style the space – perhaps some fresh flowers or centrepieces and you’re done. If you are looking for a space that you can style and transform to meet your own creative vision, try looking specifically at blank canvas venues.
In-house audio visual
A lot of private dining rooms will come with some basic AV – a screen and sound system. If you need extensive audio visual set-up for your event, consider hiring a bigger event space instead so that you can bring it all in and set it up confidently. It’s also worth noting that gaining early or all-day access to a private dining room for an extensive set-up isn’t always possible either.
Extra experiences available at private dining rooms
Since the dawn of Master Chef, there are many of us that consider ourselves, “Foodies”. Someone who appreciates and expects quality dining when eating out. We like to know all about the food we’re eating, as well as enjoying the taste.
Hosting your event at a restaurants’ private dining room allows you access to some great food experiences including:
Dining at the Kitchen Table – this is a very special type of private dining where diners are invited to dine within or overlooking the kitchen. Enjoy the heat, smells, sounds and commotion of a busy dinner service. This experience is a personal favourite of ours!
Wine tasting – Some of Australia’s best sommeliers are resident at restaurants with private dining rooms, and they are usually eager to host wine tasting or wine pairing events. This can be a fun and informative experience to add to your next private dining event.
Chef appearances – whether you’re enjoying a set menu or an eight-course degustation menu, having the Chef pop in to your event to discuss the menu or simply get a high five with the guests, is a nice touch.
*A note little note about celebrity chef appearances…
Lots of people think that by booking the private dining room at a restaurant with a celebrity chef at the helm you’re guaranteed to get them to “pop-in” to say hi to your guests during the event….
Unfortunately, more often than not, this isn’t going to happen. A few reasons – including the fact celebrity chefs don’t work at the restaurant every night. Also, when they do, they are usually whipping the kitchen into gear and producing the meals. Some restaurants will include an “appearance fee” and others will say “they will try but can’t promise you”. If you do pay a fee for them to attend, consider including a recipe book as a gift to guests which the chef can sign on the night – an extra nice touch.
Health & safety plan – COVID-safe
The benefits of using a private dining room during a pandemic does not just relate to their size. Sure, private dining rooms are small and suit the restrictions imposed on the number of guests allowed, but they also provide a space that can be easily quarantined.
With the restrictions changing quickly, the important thing to look for is that the venue your using has a COVID-safe plan in place. This will include sanitising the event space, providing adequate protection to guests and staff and eliminating the risk of exposure.
You might not know what a COVID-safe plan means right now (we’re all learning at the same time), but we’re guessing that very soon it will be standard practice for events and will be as common as putting together the seating plan.
Where to find the best private dining rooms?
Event Birdie is a great resource for finding venues for private events. Listed below are some links that will take you directly to our list of private dining rooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Some of these private dining rooms are within restaurants, and a couple are within unique venues where you can enjoy a private dining experience. There are also a few small restaurants where you can book a take over and enjoy an intimate dining experience all to yourselves – very fancy!
P.S. The header image used is of one of our favourite private dining rooms in Sydney, Busby Private Dining, which is located under Riley St Garage.