What Makes a New York Event Better Than The Next, Part 1: Service

Whether it’s a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Cocktail Reception, Gala Dinner or Wedding in New York, there are certain elements that ensure that your event will stand out from the rest. Herbert Rose has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues, and is now Director Emeritus at Guastavino’s and 583 Park Avenue. Over the next few weeks the patriarch of The Rose Family will share his commentary on the factors that make an event stand out from the crowd. This week: Service

When hosting an event, the single most important element is service. Not just the quality of service, but more specifically, the quantity. In Manhattan, all of the top venues draw from a very similar labor pool. That means that the front of house staff, the bartenders, waiters, captains, checkroom attendants, even the unseen porters, tend to be equally talented across the board. The key to providing a great experience for you guests is to have the highest staff-to-guest ratio possible. The more staff you have working at your event, the more pampered and cared for your guests will feel. No one wants to wait to check their coat, wait on line for a drink, be served half a table at a time or search longingly for hor d’oeuvres. Unfortunately, a quality staff is expensive and is the first place where many venues will begin to cut corners.

Almost all hotels are bound by the union contract agreement, which specifies what the staff-to-guest ratio must be. Unfortunately for the guests, this ratio is designed to guarantee the incomes union members, not to provided guests with adequate service. Ironically, this means that the venues that cost the most, hotels, provide the fewest number of servers. Even if you are willing to pay for more, the union contract will prevent you from getting what you’ve paid for.

Even if you’re not dealing with a union situation, you cannot assume that you will get the proper level of staffing. Before booking a venue, ask exactly how many guests each server will be responsible for, how many captains will be in attendance and how many bartenders will be mixing drinks. At 583 Park Avenue and Guastavino’s, we use 1 waiter for every 5 guests. That is double or triple the industry standard because we feel so strongly that this is the single most important way that we can distinguish our event venue from the competition. Believe me, it makes a huge difference.

A footnote: It is always important that venue staff be properly uniformed. Not makeshift outfits but tailored, well-fitting uniforms that bespeak of professionalism. Hotels do better on this than many independent venues, but at Rose Group venues, we make an even bigger commitment to wardrobe than the top New York hotels.

Please bear in mind that, as a host, you may not notice how many waiters there are or how easy it was to find a drink. As your guests leave they will tell you that it was the BEST Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Reception, Dinner or Wedding they have ever been to. That’s when you’ll know that you made the right choice.

Herbert Rose is Director Emeritus at Guastavino’s and 583 Park Avenue. He has over 40 years of experience as Director of Catering at New York’s finest venues. Future commentaries will include cuisine, temperature, music, décor, and timeline.

Have a question for Herbert? Contact Us today and he will be happy to address it in a future post.