Can I get a turkey sandvich over here while the comic is doing a set?
July 22, 2019 4:01 PM   Subscribe

I work at a restaurant with a large banquet room upstairs, and in the summer time we do comedy shows up there every Wednesday and some Saturdays. We are having a devil of a time deciding how, if at all, to let people order food up there...

Doors are at 8pm, show starts at nine, our kitchen closes at ten. Doing a la carte service up there in the dark has proved problematic, encouraging ticket holders to come early, dine in the bistro, then go to the show has not worked (and some nights the bistro is busy enough so we can't really do that) and we are toying with a limited menu or a cocktail hour up there with app stations and adding a charge to the ticket price so we get paid for the food we push out. My question is two fold: Have you ever done food service for a comedy show situation like this and if so how, and what is the norm for comedy shows, is waiter service expected or allowed while the comics are performing? How is it done at professional comedy clubs, and also at venues that just host "comedy night" every so often?
posted by vrakatar to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
hmm. I go to professional comedy shows semi-regularly. These are clubs where people are sitting at tables watching a stage at the front... the servers circulate busily before the show, getting orders. They seem to bring those orders out during the opening acts, if there was a food order. If it was just drinks it comes fairly fast, often before the show begins or during the MC's opener.

When they bring it, you can order a second round. They'll bring that out, as discreetly as they can. But they don't circulate asking for more after that, and I don't think they're moving around during the main act.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:07 PM on July 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Less dark?
posted by amtho at 4:09 PM on July 22, 2019

Definitely a limited menu, with a heavy press to take orders and get the food out before the main act takes the stage, and little to no service during the main act. I don't think I've ever been to a club with more than 5 menu items to choose from, even if it's attached to a restaurant that has a much bigger menu.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:28 PM on July 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

Went to a way-oversold show in a cramped space just a few months ago, and here's how they did it. Everybody ordered at the bar when they let us in en masse. We all got our drinks and all food orders came with those number signs you see at casual joints. So, no ordering from the table, and no table service, just bar service. Think one of those stress tests on Bar Rescue, but it really only lasts an hour. Pitchers/wine bottles were popular because you can get those out and that's enough for most groups to last a show. It was a limited menu, I assume just the stuff they could fire and get out as quickly as possible. As a result, everybody got their food before the main act came on. Oh, and like BlahLaLa said, kitchen's closed when the main act comes on, but the bar stayed open for drinks until 15 mins or so before the end.
posted by General Malaise at 4:36 PM on July 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

there is a bartender up there for drinks, with a good set up for beer wine and basic drinks. Kitchen is downstairs and no dumbwaiter or service stairway, everything has to go up the front stairs. I shall go now
posted by vrakatar at 4:40 PM on July 22, 2019

What General Malaise said - I have seen that sort of system work at the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH, which is a music venue. You get there, rush for a table when they open the doors about 45 minutes before showtime. A server comes and gets your food order. You get the number on a stick at your table. The food order comes out shortly before showtime (or early in 1st set). For drinks you go to the bar yourself. I believe they also used to assign your food bill to the bar tab using your table number; they had some system so you didn't need to get two checks. I bet they would be happy to describe it to you if you called up.

The other place that does something sorta like this Club Passim in Cambridge. Can't remember the exact method there.

Good luck, sounds fun!
posted by Miko at 4:47 PM on July 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, I should have noted: the food was delivered by servers, but orders were not taken by servers. The bartender didn't deliver food.
posted by General Malaise at 5:12 PM on July 22, 2019

I don't work at this venue, but I periodically attend shows at a local dinner theatre that hosts comedy as well as plays (regular and over-the-top melodramas). Dinner service opens an hour an a half before the main show, and they take orders at your table, and bring the food and drinks to you.

It's been a while since we've been, so I'm a bit hazy but I think during the melodramas, which have two intermissions, they take orders for desserts/drinks before the show to be served at the first intermission and drop checks at the second. The menu is limited, but not as limited as some of the venues mentioned above--it's online if you want to check the link. We're going this weekend, so if I remember I'll come back and clarify what they do.
posted by telophase at 6:47 PM on July 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

A dinner theater I love has a similar situation - restaurant downstairs, theater upstairs. People order and pay at the counter downstairs if they are going to the show, and then are given an orange traffic cone with a reflector number on it. Servers bring you your food during the show quickly and quietly - if you want more during the show, you have to go back downstairs to order.
posted by thelastpolarbear at 8:21 PM on July 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

If I were you I would wrap up a selection of sandwiches and sell them at the bar for an easy price, like 5 or 10 dollars (depending how upscale your place is). 2 or 3 selections like turkey, ham, vegetarian and then they are gone when they are gone.

You could sell them at the bar, or as the patrons come in for the show, like peanut vendors at the ball game.
posted by CathyG at 11:03 AM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older Recommendations for Psychiatric Centers at San...   |   Where to find streaming video of Shakespeare plays... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments