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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.

              2. I'd give Church a call. They are far enough off the path you could get decent food and drinks for much less.

                1. Was it The Hawthorne? They have a pretty high base price, $1000 for 20 people is a bit much.

                  1. Depends on the venue. I'd pass on $40/head plus tax and gratuity at The Cask or Jerry Remy's or Sweet Caroline's, but at The Hawthorne, $10 per person per 15 minutes for drinks and snacks is getting off cheap.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      I agree with Slim. At $12 per drink and the bar snacks being $8-15 each, $50 per person seems fine. Also, if it is The Hawthorne, they usually open at 5 pm, so for a 3-4 pm party they would have to get the bar ready earlier (which is normally happening during that hour), and they'd probably have to have staff come in earlier as well.

                    2. Seems pretty standard to me, for a weekend event. I've planned family parties in CT about the same size for a similar amount. $50pp including drinks isn't that steep for central Boston.

                      1. Bartender, server, add'l cook, busser, dishwasher; if it is a dead time for the house they would need to schedule staff. $50.00/plus tip seems fair unless it is being held at MacDonald's............

                        1. Out with the damn restaurant!