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$1000 mandatory minimum bill for a large group?

My professional group planned a casual networking social gathering for a Saturday afternoon in August. We contacted a few places in Back Bay / Fenway area to see if they could take an estimated group of 20 people at about 3-4 p.m., thinking it would be a slower time between the Red Sox game and drinks / dinner hour.

One place said yes, but that the group would have to spend $1000. This seemed kind of a steep bite for drinks and light stuff to eat in the middle of the afternoon. I realize this is their own business and they can charge whatever they want, but it seemed a little off-putting.

Is this something that is more of an expectation now for a big group that isn't doing private dining?

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  1. We're you asking for a private room or just reserved space? I haven't had that problem when planning similar things on weekday evenings. Maybe try Back Bay Social Club? I was recently at an event there that I don't think had a minimum.

    1. It may not be worth their while to staff up at an off hour if you're not gonna meet their minimum spend.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Blumie

        ^^^ this sounds most likely to me, actually.

        1. re: Blumie

          Yeah, that makes sense to me as well -- if it's a slow time, you'd expect them to be staffed accordingly, and not to have staff standing around doing nothing. To accommodate a large party, they will probably have to add staff.

        2. wow, seems steep. not sure if you're looking for upscale but my office group recently did a Sox outing. We coupled that with drinks and apps beforehand at Crossroads on the corner of Beacon and Mass Ave. I made arrangements ahead of time for our group of 30, they staffed the upstairs room with one server and one bartender. starting at 4, many of their apps were $3.95, we ordered 5 of each, pitchers of beer, then kept ordering till our $$$ money ran out. (we had charged each attendee $20 bux so had about 600 to spend)we stayed for over 2 hours, were quite full, little tipsy, had a great time , left a $90 tip. there was no charge for the room or anything else, great time. BUT the room is a little divey, lots of TVs, skeeball, darts etc. It made for a really fun afternoon, since it was during the world cup so we did not mind the TVs.

          1. Maybe you should work out a menu list and drink options with the establishment. It would allow them to set a price for you.

            1. I think it's fairly typical for places to ask for a minimum if you want a private room and not pay a room fee. But, $1,000 for 20 people does seem excessive. I think the minimum is usually tied in to the size of the room. Is this a bigger room than you really need? Call around some more.

              4 Replies
              1. re: pemma

                it's $50 pp which i don't think of being all that steep, unless they really are only going to be there for one hour.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    Check your math. $1000, 20 people. I get $50/pp as well, which does seem a bit steep for an hour-long function with drinks and snacks.

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      I did check my math! Which proves how really terrible at math I am. Mea culpa, $50 it is. I agree, that's steep.

                      Though on second thought, I'm not sure the OP means that this is an hour-long event or that they might be there in full swing somewhere around 3 or 4.