**Commiserate with me or share the view from the other side. I'm interested in what restaurant owners/staff have to say about this one!**
As a part-time event planner (I plan 8-10 large-scale dinners a year), my jaw drops every time a restaurant simply tells me "no." Especially in this economy.
Not that they don't have the space available or the capability to handle the event, but that they are "closed that day" (4-6 months out) or that they won't consider a buy-out (even if I ask them to name their price). Or best one yet, "You can come in, but we can't guarantee the space or advance order a menu." As if I am going to take 60 people to a restaurant just to see if they can fit us in! Sometimes I truly wonder who is answering the phone/email, is it Sara the disgruntled hostess or is it the maitre d' who has so little common sense?
What would the right answers be?
"We're not typically open on (day of week here), would you be willing to consider another day of the week?" - Don't make me work for it, offer me suggestions to spend money at your establishment. Worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work out, but at least you tried.
"We can open the restaurant for a food and beverage minimum of $10,000, plus a gratuity of 15%. We will need an advance deposit of 50%." - Set your terms. There's a point where you WILL open, right? You don't know my budget, so hit me with your terms and let me decide. You might be really happy to find out what I can work with.
And if you really, truly will not open for a large event, don't just say "we're closed" or "no." Thank me for my interest, recommend another local restaurant that you know accommodates large groups, and/or give me some sort of explanation (religious reasons, a commitment to staff, AA meeting, whatever it is), this will go a LONG way to getting me to recommend your restaurant for an impromptu dinner (remember those 60 people I was bringing with me?) for another night or to try it myself when I'm in the area. A flat no gets you checked out of my list. For good.
Vent over. :)