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Best restaurants in SF for 120-person wedding reception dinner and dance party?

Hey Chowhounds,

My fiancé and I are looking to get married in SF (or within walking distance of an Oakland BART station) and great food is a priority for us, so we're considering buying out a restaurant for the dinner reception and dance party. We would love your ideas, thoughts and advice on restaurants that might work well for our reception.

We'll be having 110–120 people and want a dance party at the same venue with a dance floor and amplified music. We'd like to keep the total cost for location, food, alcohol and rentals below $14,000 with tax and tip included.

We like the look and feel of Outerlands, Plow, Haven, Gracias Madre, Piccino, Plant Cafe, Greens and Foreign Cinema. Obviously, some of these restaurants are well above our budget (or can't fit 120 people), but hopefully they give you a sense of our desired look and feel of the restaurant.

What restaurants come to mind for you, and what advice do you have for us?

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  1. You might want to look into The Lodge in The Presidio. They do fully catered events and I'm pretty sure they have the tech setup and backline, plus dance floor space, etc. Maybe contact Bix also. They should be able to accommodate large capacity and the space is beautiful. That would seem like a fun option; great cocktails and good food as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: OliverB

      Thanks Oliver! Are you referring to The Log Cabin in The Presidio or something else? We've looked at The Log Cabin and want to get more detailed pricing soon.

      As for Bix, according to their page on cvent.com, they can only seat 100 people and I'm guessing that doesn't include a dance floor. So, unfortunately, it won't work for our setup.

      1. re: LukeRB

        Sorry for the late response; haven't been around much lately. Yes, the log cabin in The Presidio is indeed what I was referring to. It's a really beautiful venue with rich history and unbeatable surroundings. I've always wanted to throw a party there myself! :)

        http://www.presidio.gov/venues/Pages/...

        There's plenty of good photos on Google Images to flip through. I have no clue what kind of ballpark we're talking for rental fee but it's often used as a wedding or engagement venue and I'm pretty sure it's operate by the city or state so I'm willing to bet it's somewhat reasonable as far as these things go. Personally, it'd be my first pick; even if it meant being a bit more thrifty with regards to catering.

        1. re: LukeRB

          Here you go:

          http://www.presidio.gov/venues/Docume...

          Rental fee isn't bad at all, only $3,300 if you do it on a weekday. It's going to the Fed since it's Nat'l Park land, probably pays upkeep and preservation so it's a good cause.

      2. I went to a smaller private event (about 50) at Foreign Cinema last weekend and the quality of the food and service really impressed me. It's also a fun place. I can imagine that it would work well for you, though I don't know about the price.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Glencora

          I second Foreign Cinema, but I don't know how large a party they can fit.

          Le Colonial has a dance floor/dj at night and private rooms for dinner. You could rent out the whole second floor? I've been to a wedding there, but not sure what the details of the arrangement were.

          I know people have had receptions at Beretta but I don't know if there was dancing involved.

          Family friends have had weddings at Yank Sing.

          The problem with that big a party is that may restaurants will require to buy it out, unless it's a day when they're normally closed, it will be a lot of $$$$.

          1. re: Glencora

            While we love Foreign Cinema's food, space, decor and service (though it can be over-the-top at times), it is well out of our price range. For those curious, Foreign Cinema can fit between 175 and 350 people seated (depending on the area you rent) and the cost of having your reception there is $35,000 + tax, 20% service fee and $1,000 facility fee (so $46,465+ total). Foreign Cinema's officially off our list…

              1. re: LukeRB

                You may have to take a long hard look at what you are trying to do. If, it's a restaurant they will want a full buy out if it's a Friday or Saturday night. A full buyout for a space that can acommodate 175 guests (so you can have a dance floor) and is normally 50 pp x 3 seatings per night is 26250. That's just for the food.

                So you are either looking for a cheaper restaurant that is say $20 pp or you are looking for a restaurant in the Bay Area that is at half capacity on Friday and Saturday nights (which is probably not a good/popular restaurant).

                That leaves ethnic food or some sad restaurant that makes it's money off events.
                Or is so huge that it can accommodate 120 people plus dance floor and still have full seatings on a Fri or Sat.

                Have you looked at renting out all of Press in SF?

                If you do find something, please do share as many have come to this board with the exact same problem.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  You make a great point that this is a tough feat—our research thus far has shown us that. That said, we have promising inroads on a few places and are hopeful we'll find a place that fits our look, feel and flow while being in our budget.

                  We're estimating a dance floor for 60 people (only a portion of people are dancing at any time) will take up the area of three 8-person tables, so we'll need a place that fits ~150 seated; We're also considering places that have two separate areas flanking to the "dance floor."

                  We want a place with great layout/flow, good food and acceptable decor; The areas we predict we'll have the best chance of finding such a place are in lesser-known / sub-tier neighborhoods in SF (or Oakland).

                  I've looked into Press Club, and have yet to hear back on pricing; If I had to guess, the price is going to be steep / out of our price range. [UPDATE] Heard back from Press Club: Total = $28,000+ for 3-hour full buy-out with food, wine, beer and rentals. Ya…that's definitely out ;)

                  I'll definitely keep you posted on what we find out and what we decide to do. In the meantime, does anyone have experience with (or knowledge of) the costs of hosting a seated reception or doing a buy-out at Greens, Dosa on Fillmore, Bocanova, or Plant Cafe Organic on Embarcadero?

            1. Hi

              What day of the week and what time of year are you looking for.
              Not a restaurant but I will throw out the Golden Gate yacht Club. Fairly reasonably prices and good catering.

              Also check out http://www.sfpdv.com/buyouts.html

              1 Reply
              1. re: smatbrat

                Thanks for the suggestion of Golden Gate Yacht Club, as well as for the link to SFPDV! We've scoured SFPDV already and will look into GG Yacht Club.

              2. As an update, we've narrowed our search area to within SF or accessible via short-walk from a ferry terminal (e.g. Sausalito, Tiburon, Larkspur, Alameda, Jack London Square, etc.). Any more ideas and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

                1 Reply
                1. re: LukeRB

                  Farmshop, tho it is likely pricey as well. Bar Boce might be fun. I don't know enough about Jack London, but look around there. Oakland will be less $

                2. I was at the StrEAT food park last night for the La Cocina event, and one of the facilities people was telling me you can rent out the park for weddings, etc. It is not formal, and def funky, but may be a good alternative. Live music is ok there and it would be catered by food trucks.

                  just one more idea to throw out there.
                  Tho overall i think something like the Cabin or the GGYC is going to be the best budget option for you

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: smatbrat

                    Right there are a decent amount of options for not restaurants. It 's that it needs to be a restaurant space that is a constraint. Catering FYI in the Bay Area can be very expensive unless doing food trucks. Indian or Mexican.