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Oct 21, 2007 11:43 PM

Cheap 60 People Luncheon Location Needed

I'm looking for a place to host my mom's 60th birthday. It's not until next March, but I need to figure out now if this is something I'll be able to afford.

I'd like to invite 60 people, but if this ends up being impossible with my budget, then I'll scale it down.

Now for the bad part, the budget. I'd really like to keep it below $2000, total-tip drinks everything. That's why this is a lunch thing.

I've searched the boards and internet and have come up with a few options.

Dim Sum-which would be fine. But has anyone ever been to a dim sum private party for that many people? Was it a good experience? Do you feel like you were offered enough food? I'm worried some people might get screwed by being skipped or something. Also, how are you charged?

Castaway-I saw on their website that they have a Saturday Brunch! Score! Since there will be kids there, I thought this would be great! Has anyone been to a function there?

I wouldn't even mind renting out a location and getting it catered. I'll totally pick up tables on my own and set the room up. I'm considering the Infusion Gallery, but I think all these things will add up and I'll be over budget.

Ideally I'd love to do it on a boat/cruise. But that's impossible-even though the party would be a few hours.

I don't care about location-OC, LA, Westside, whatever-I'm open to any suggestions! Age range will be people from 80 y/o to 0 y/o. (So ample parking would be nice for the people who need the handicap spots). Type of food, doesn't really matter. Mexican or italian would work too. But we're an asian family and I'm thinking the elders would prefer asian.

I look forward to your recommendations!


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  1. You can definitely do lunch dim sum for that many people! My mom did a lunch at 888 Seafood for 40, and we had plenty of room for at least two more tables. They have a back room; call and talk to the manager and see what he can do. He might ask you to come towards the beginning or the end of dim sum service, but for a group of 60 I think he'd appreciate the business.

    We ordered some things ahead to make sure the table would get enough food, then alternated between asking the servers for things to be brought to all tables and letting each table pick as carts came and went. There is also the option to mix dim sum item with family style big plates of food. Very affordable on your budget, since it's hard to eat more than $25 a person at dim sum unless you go absolutely nuts with the seafood!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      Hi again. So I'm doing the math, and it looks like as long as you stay under $33 you can invite 60 people. So let's say $30/pp to give you a little wiggle room. That's about $24 a head plus tax and roughly 20% tip. You have a lot of choices! As long as you pick a lunch spot with a lot of $10-15 choices, assuming everyone gets even a $10 drink you'll be okay.

      How about Il Fornaio? I know it's a chain, and not exactly exciting, but the various branches are lovely, able to accomodate 60, have friendly service, and the food is palatable to most people. We took my fiance's parents and they loved it, especially the bolognese and the arugula prosciutto pizza. We spent about $25 a head for entrees, coffee, juice, no dessert, and had enough leftovers for another person.

      Even Jar is doable, though it would be a little harder. I like Jack N' Jill's and the portions are enormous, but the space is too small.

      Wherever you end up, you should consider at least some pre-ordering to get a sense of your budget. If you do Chinese, just order banquet tables ahead of time in the $200/table of ten range. If you do Western, perhaps have the restaurant print up a shortened menu of entree choices you can afford.

      1. re: Pei

        Wow! Thanks for crunching the numbers for me!

        I checked out Jar, but I think it might be a little too much. Il Fornaio looks great. I especially love the lunch buffet they have, although I wish pizza was an option. But I'm sure I could work something out with the manager. If I go the Italian route I was looking into C&O, I read a lot of threads where people recommended that place for big parties. But Il Fornaio is great because they have an AV outlet for some entertainment I have planned.

        1. re: bigtums

          I would do Il Fornaio 100% over C&O, especially for an older person's birthday. The space is more elegant, the service more professional, and the food more refined and prettily plated. C&O is great for a casual family meal, or even a rowdy party, but if it were my mom's birthday I would go IF. Maggiano's might also work, I believe they have rooms upstairs.

          1. re: Pei

            I have to say Maggiano's is nice because people who drive all far can go shop after so it's not a total waste to make the drive. Big plus, they have a cheap brunch buffet. We may have a winner!

            1. re: bigtums

              Same with Il Fornaio! One's in Old Town Pasadena, the other is near Rodeo Drive.

              1. re: Pei

                There's one a couple of blocks from 3rd St Promenade too.

    2. Instead of Dim Sum, do Chinese family style. ABC, CBS, NBC any of the bigger places in China town should be able to help you out, heck even Won Kok has that huge back room. If you are able to be really flexable with your time, like come early say 9 AM or when they slow up, maybe 1:30 or 2.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Burger Boy

        I think 9am is a little too early because I'll have people coming from as far as San Diego and Chino Hills. Then my mom lives in Marina Del Ray so people will be coming from the west side too. I think family style chinese will be my last resort. I'm going to have to choose some place that will knock her socks off, she's kind of got a refined palate. Sure, she wants her carnitas taco every now and then, but for something like this I might have to do better than that. We usually do family style chinese for yearly special occasions like holidays, graduations, and birthdays (non 60 y/o celebration birthdays). If you know of an AWESOME chinese restaurant that would be great-but I'm sure the cost will be higher too. The grandparents live in Monterey Park so we hit up the places around there a lot.

        1. re: bigtums

          The Castaways could be very nice for a celebration like that. They have a number of private rooms too. The food won't light your fire, but this occasion isn't about the food, is it? Not to say it's bad, it's just okay.

          1. re: compucook

            I see. Would you be able to compare it to the other suggestions like Maggiano's? Il Fornaio?

            1. re: compucook

              Eeew, Castaways has horrible food.
              Even way back in the late 80's, when I was in high school, and had to go there on a prom date, I thought the food was vile...then again, I had gone to Valentino for Junior prom so maybe I'm spoiled....Hell, Pickwick Bowl has better food than Castaways...great view, food, not worth it.

            2. re: bigtums

              Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park would be a great choice for a family-style Chinese banquet. We were able to have an awesome 11 course dinner for a little more than $200/table (10 persons per table).

              1. re: raytamsgv

                But Elite is so small, we'd end up taking most of the restaurant. That's too bad because I've had some amazing dishes there.

                1. re: bigtums

                  You still should be able to reserve six tables. The atrium (or whatever the new addition to the building is called) holds four tables alone. My guess is that the main part of the restaurant would hold at least twelve tables.

              2. re: bigtums

                Talk to 26 Beach, they have a slow time from 2-5 usually and I know they will cut you a deal, everyone wins! They give you a time limit, just like most places. The food is great and if you do it at 2:00 they still serve breakfast. Great french toasts, Burgers & salads, if you stick to that you should be around $13-$18 with drinks, you could even do a nice dessert and come in under your budget!

            3. 1. The Summit House is a restaurant in OC that does a lot of wedding and other events. It's v. pretty - the food isn't earth shattering but the atmosphere and service are great.

              2. For vietnamese food that is semi authentic in a nice atmosphere, check out S restaurant. The food is not expensive compared to western restaurants.
              S Restaurant
              545 Westminster Mall Dr.

              3. Brodard Chateau is a v. pretty VNese restaurant that is not expensive - although I've never been there for a banquet or organized party event. You may want to check them out if you're looking for Asian food in a pretty atmosphere.

              2 Replies
              1. re: annabananaoc

                i LOVE the Summit House! i've been to 3 events there. each time, the food was excellent! nice atmosphere. i think your mom would love it there! it's in fullerton near CSUF.

                1. re: fatnoodles

                  I like the Summit house too, but I think it's going to be way out of my budget. Bummer.

              2. More ideas for you:

                Descanso Gardens - I attended a really pretty bridal shower here and I think it would so lovely for your mom's 60th b-day. This would also give the guests something to do if they come early or want to hang out afterwards. You can do a breakfast buffet for $18/pp (I think it's catered by Patina).

                1. Napa Valley Grille might work.

                  Chaya Venice

                  La Cachette would be perfect, but may be too expensive... You could call and see if they'd work with you to accommodate your price range.

                  Could also rent at the Olympic Collection and cater---did it for my sweet 16 umpteen years ago.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    I think it will be very hard to rent a space and cater for 60 for under $2000! I've been talking to a few places about catering a lunch for 20, and the price is already over a thousand. Of course, I'm also talking about renting linens and plates, but I'm not looking at renting a space or having as many as 60 guests.

                    1. re: Emme

                      You couldn't do La Cachette for 60 people at a total budget of 2000 (incl. tax, tip, etc.) Heck, you could barely do La Cachette with that budget for 20 people.

                      The restaurant could make like Mary Lou Retton and still probably couldn't bend over backwards far enough to accommodate.

                      Chaya Venice might also be problematic budget-wise as well.