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Apr 17, 2007 08:50 AM

Surprise! B-day in SJ/Palo Alto area

Hello Everyone,

I'm new to the boards and I am hoping I can get some good advice here. I am wanting to throw a surprise b-day "party" (he's turning 30) at a restaurant in the Santa Clara/San Jose/Palo Alto/Sunnyvale-ish area. I am hoping to get 20-30 people to come. I was originally thinking of doing it at Hotel Valencia in Santana Row, but I worry only because they are a little pricey and some people might not come because of it. Anyone know of good restaurant that would be kind to a group that big in the area?

Also - not food related but about etiquette:

When you invite people for such a gathering, is it assumed that they pay for themselves? I definitely can't afford that myself, but how would I say to people that you pay for your own dinner? I don't want to be tacky....

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  1. Hotel Valencia will cost you a minimum of $50/pp. I've never eaten there but my hairstylist had her wedding there and she said it was good. Another good alternative is Paragon in the hotel Montgomery (SJ). They offer a group menu starting at $35/pp but that's not including drinks/tax/tips. I've been to a couple of functions there and I know they can deal with large groups well.

    Unless you have friends with money, I suggest you try somewhere like BJ's Brewery. The group menu is very affordable and most people like pizzas and beers. If the party is before 7 pm during happy hour, I believe they hugely discount drinks.

    As to your etiquette question, I would state on the party invite that it is a no-host party. If you decide on the more expensive places like Hotel Valencia I would add on the invite that the estimated cost would be X dollars per person. This way you can let people decide if they want to come or not. In any case, you should be prepared to pay extra for the people who come "with not enough money".

    1. I think it depends on how you want to do it. Either you split the bill with the whole group or you have everyone pay their own meal and pitch in for the birthday boy/girl.
      I have found that if you want to feed a large group with not so much money then family style tends to be cheaper.

      Also, what type of food are you looking for?

      I have had some birthday dinners with around 20 people at Krung Thai on Winchester. They have been no more than $20 (including tax & tip) per person and we ate a lot. Last time it was $16 for about 14 peple and that was also pitching in for my meal so I didn't have to pay.
      I have attended birthday parties at PF Changs ($16-22 per person) and Bucca ($12-18) per person (depending on the number of dishes you order.) I have also gone to Vung Tau with a large group but the person had pre-ordered and I knew going into it it was going to be $22 per person.

      I recently saw large groups at Sonoma Chicken Coop in Campbell. In one group, the people ordered and paid at the counter. In the other, they had menus at the tables and the food was brought to them. I'm sure you can call them to find out what woud work.

      I recommend having alcohol on a seperate bill or having them pay the waitress directly. Figuring out who drank how much is stressful and it's not fair to split that evenly if some people aren't drinking.

      I have never put in the invitation that it was a no-host party but I guess with my group of friends it's assumed that we all pitch in. That sounds like a good idea though if that's what you are worried about.

      1. i agree.. with what everyone said so far... just tell them.. it's more tacky to have people come and not expect to pay... by the time you reach that age, people should be old enough to decide if they can afford to come. and no need to beat around the bush either, i have found that by that age, everyone pretty much wants things straightforward....

        buca's is fun... depending on what night you go, hukilau in palo alto is fun (but sometimes they don't accept reservations because depending on what band is playing), ming's in palo alto has a private room and i've been to a couple of private parties there that have been affordable.. you would probably have to set your own menu before you go and then get the pricing, then you can tell people how much to bring... there's also thai orchid in campbell that you may be able to request the private room in the back. i've been to a baby shower there and it was fine. of course, people will be at separate tables if you have this many people.... i also know that gordon biersch has what you are looking for... my friend's gf reserved a party there and had us order from a set menu.. but i thought the price was a little too much for what they were giving us.. i think it was like $40 with unlimited beer, but i'm not a beer person and i didn't like the preset menu choices, so i don't believe we went.... make sure you speak to the catering people at whatever restaurant they choose (if they have).

        you can also limit your party to your bf's closest friends if 20-30 people is too much and just have the rest meet up for drinks (and maybe even dessert like at melting pot) somewhere else....

        1 Reply
        1. re: kinipela

          I really appreciate your replies. I have to say - I feel kind of tacky making people pay for themselves, but I think the big 30 is a big deal and my BF has ever had a big bday and I think he's been disappointed by that - that's why I want to go to a "nicer" place, but you are all right - I don't want to make people pay out of their nose for it, because then nobody will come!!

          I am in kind of a tough spot, b/c he is very picky (he hates PF Chang's and Buca with a passion - so those are out). He makes it hard. ;). I will keep doing research, but I wanted to thank you all for your input - MUCH appreciated!!!