Many times while entertaining, severs will approach you and inform you that a customer is having a birthday or anniversary and they would like you to entertain their table. I always ask the servers “How far they are into their meal? Did they just sit down or are they getting ready to leave?” The answer to these questions will determine how fast I need to attend to their request. I thank the server and let them know I will get to them in due time. I want to control my work pattern and not allow the servers to dictate my schedule. The server has learned that if the customer is happy, they can improve their tips. Servers are not concerned about other customers in the restaurant, just theirs.
When I start my shift, I always ask the servers if they have any parties and, if they do, how far into their meal have they gone? Some servers will quickly say “My party is killing me; they’ve been here all day already. We need to get them out of here.” Others will say “they have just started and not everyone is here”. I look around the room and quickly determine who needs entertainment ASAP. I have learned that it is better to please many individual people then to worry about one big party. As I’ve told many owners, I would rather make sure I entertain the restaurant’s regular and new customers immediately, and then get to the big party of out-of-towers. At most of these “big” birthday or anniversary parties, you will see a pattern. There is usually one family member who is either a regular to the restaurant or lives in the neighborhood and has chosen this restaurant because of its location. Everyone else in the group is often from out of town, infrequently visits to the restaurant or will never come to the restaurant again. If I choose to entertain the big party first; I can upset regulars and first time customers by getting bogged down at the party and neglecting their tables. I also let the wait staff and the party knows that I’m here for the customers and not just their party. If they want to, they can hire me for their next event.
On busy days, let the party know that you only have time for the birthday child. And if time allows, you will come back. The goal as a restaurant entertainer is to entertain the restaurant, not one individual party. I find it is best to do a show rather than a one-on-one form of entertainment. If you can do a show, make something special for the birthday child and smaller things for their friends. I find as a Balloon Artist it is quicker to do balloon hats than individual balloons. Face Painters can decorate the face of the birthday child making simple designs for the guest. Character Artists can draw a group picture as a birthday gift instead of individual drawings. Magicians can use the birthday child in a routine. Make the event special and different from your normal routine and the customer will appreciate your efforts and reward you accordingly.