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October 18, 2007 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I need to find a place for 10-12 co-workers to celebrate a holiday party in DC, but I need to ensure it isn't a sit-down meal.

The problem being certain people have a tendency to dominate conversation if it is a seated situation. Last year was completely ridiculous because a gregarious, arrogant co-worker told stupid, selfish stories all night because he is the kind of person to take advantage of a captive audience.

I would like something where we can rent out a small room of a bar or restaurant that would be standing room only and provide a situation for mingling. I am not a DC native and I only live here a couple days a week, so anything in the city would be helpful. We are legal professionals and would like something "classy". Our office is near the White House, but feel free to suggest anything in the city or suburbs.
posted by rabbitsnake to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't offer you a specific recommendation for DC but in Honolulu, local galleries and museums will host private parties. Classy, standing-room only, stuffed w/ conversation starters.
posted by zanni at 4:59 PM on October 18, 2007

I arranged a dinner for my boss and 10 of his colleagues at:

Restaurant Nora
2132 Florida Avenue N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20008

I didn't go but my boss was pleased with the food and the service. As I recall they had a sit-down dinner but the staff at Nora is responsive to customer inquiries.
posted by Soda-Da at 7:30 PM on October 18, 2007

Have you thought about dealing with the problem directly? As a (recovering? maybe just a little bit recovering?) long talker myself, I can tell you I have never been daunted by the lack of a chair. Most long talkers aren't purposefully taking advantage of other people. They usually don't realize what they're doing. If you talk to these people and let them know their behavior is annoying that might make things a bit awkward for them but better for the crowd as a whole. I know this isn't the point of the question but believe me when I tell you that this will not fix the problem on its own. There will always be someone way to polite to tell the talkative person to shut up, and they will be stuck listening to them, chairs or not.

This is just a gut feeling but I don't think that you will have much luck with galleries or museums in DC. However, I imagine you can explain the situation and nearly any bar or restaurant -- especially the already crowded ones in Adams Morgan -- would be able to convert one of their smaller rooms into a private room by removing the tables and chairs. Worse case scenario they can pile the chairs on the tables and shove them in the corner -- heck, *you* can even do this.

This might be the best solution -- do it yourself. Rent out the room, then move all the tables to the side of the room. Stack up most of the chairs, leave a few out for sitting. Order food that lends itself to eating-while-walking and put this on the table so it's clear that this isn't a sit down meal.

I'm sure most restaurants will give the okay to moving the furniture around if you're renting the room and promise to move it back.

Oh, and seriously. Tell your coworker that they have a problem. They might be angry at you now, but in the long run the will be much, much better people for knowing this about themselves.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:30 PM on October 18, 2007

There are lots of places that do receptions in private dining rooms, particularly if you're a small group that doesn't need too much space. Look for a nice restaurant close to your office to see if they have a private room where they would be willing to host a reception.

The only place where I have ever arranged something like that is at Sam and Harry's, which was nice and upscale, with excellent Hors d'Oeuvres and great service. Fairly pricey, though.
posted by gemmy at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2007

I tend to avoid classy places, so I can't offer much advice (though I can't imagine it'd be hard to find what you describe amid the plethora of classy DC options), but I think Eat Bar might be what you're looking for. It rents out its back room for private parties, and while there are (nice) couches if people feel like sitting, there is lots of standing room for mingling. No real tables in the back room. The food is great. Might not actually be classy enough by legal DC standards, but it is very respectable. It's in Arlington (about half a mile from the Clarendon metro).

Also, Zengo might be an option. I don't know what their policy on seating is, but they are inviting events right now. Larger events, it would seem, but they might be worth a call. Right in the Chinatown/Verizon Center area of DC and really great food. And probably classier than Eat Bar (shhh!).

I would say, though, that one of the classiest and most fun events I ever went to (showing my lack of class here, maybe) was a holiday party held at the Baltimore aquarium for a small consulting firm. It'd definitely be too big for your event; I'm only mentioning it to second what zanni said, if you can find a small gallery to host you. Maybe the Corcoran, if they change the table set up?
posted by sa3z at 4:41 PM on October 19, 2007

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