Prepping for New Years' Eve party at bar or restaurant

Launching a successful New Years’ Eve party doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning, coordination and resiliency to make it through the late night. But the reward is worth it: several bars and restaurants count on the champagne soaked celebration to help them start the new year on the right financial foot.

That said, there are several places where things can go wrong if you don’t put in the work beforehand. You certainly don’t want to end up in the red after your first big event of the year. Here are some tips to make sure the New Years’ party goes smoothly at your bar or restaurant:

Estimate the size of the crowd
If it’s your first time hosting a New Years’ Eve bash, this first tip may be difficult. It’s important though because it will determine how much food to order, how much liquor to stock and how many employees to staff. One way to get an estimate may be to ask people to RSVP. If possible, send them to a special page on your website and just ask them to send an email with the number of guests they expect to bring.

Keep the staff feeling good
Naturally, you always want to take care of the staff but it may be extra important during a New Years’ Eve party given the longer hours and a, presumably, larger crowd of hungry and thirsty partygoers. It may be good to provide bottled water in different locations around your establishment. Another idea is to have a special bathroom or even a port-a-potty set aside for the staff to use in case the regular restrooms are filled with customers. If it’s not possible, then have a plan in place for when a staff member needs to dash out somewhere to go relieve themselves. Perhaps have enough staff working so that one person can cover for another while they’re gone.

After the party, it may be a nice idea to provide thank you cards with a small cash gift to demonstrate your appreciation to the staff members. It’s a great way to express gratitude and it lets the staff know how much they are appreciated.

Order enough menu materials
If you know approximately how many people will attend the party, you can plan the menu appropriately. It may be a good idea to prep a menu that can be made in advance. Some chefs also advocate for a smaller, limited menu that has only a few items in comparison to the regular menu at your restaurant.

Similarly, you can create a drink menu for your bar that has a limited number of specialty cocktails to be ordered on New Years’ Eve. This will hopefully relieve some pressure from the bartenders to allow them to serve more drinks in less time.

One more tip to fit into this one is that you may be able to put in these special drink and menu items into your restaurant point of sale so that they can be quickly added to a check with minimal button pushing. In other words, set them up so that the server can quickly order an item using a special key. It will help get the ticket to the kitchen or bar that much faster.

Hire extra security if needed
It probably goes without saying but the extra alcohol combined with the larger than usual crowd can lead to some messy situations. Broadly speaking, it’s a general rule of thumb to hire one to one-and-a-half security people for every 100 patrons at an over-30 establishment. The ratio increases to two security persons for every 100 patrons at an under-30 type of establishment. Of course, you can always hire more security if you just want to have them around to help with other tasks such as controlling access at alternate entryways to your property or clearing the path to the bathroom if it gets too crowded.

The most important goal of security is to keep customers safe so that they can enjoy themselves. After all, everyone wants to usher in the new year safely and have a memorable time doing it.

With any luck, these partygoers will have such a great time that they’ll be back at your bar or restaurant next year for more of the same.

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