We bought out a restaurant. It was great. They’ll give you a minimum spend for the use of the room, because you have to buy enough food, and drink, to make it worthwhile for them to give you exclusive access.
The host pays for the meal; you can do a cash bar, open bar, drinks served with courses, however you would like to handle the beverages. I suggest having a drink served with each course, plus the champagne toast, and probably a cocktail before dinner. Though, there is no rule that you have to provide all that, but then you are looking at giving everyone 3-4 drinks, and you can negotiate good prices on them with the restaurant, because they’ll know exactly what drinks are going to be made, so what they have to bring in extra of, and get the exact right amounts, etc. The first quote we got per drink was for doubles, and was (1) too high and (2) with an open bar, too much alcohol in one glass, and could lead to people miscounting their own drinks. Most drinks you buy at a bar are more than a single, so that’s something to be aware of.
If yuo povide people 3+ drinks, that is entirely adequate, and as much as an average person would drink over the course of an evening. You ca allow them to simply order from the bar (and pay) if they want more drinks than that.<br /><br />
If you come in under your minimum spend at the end of the night, (say, if you did an open bar, and lft room) then you have to pay the minimum anyway. The place we found was a ridiculously low $3000 for a a Saturday night – the outgoing owner gave us that quote, and I think it may have actually been him sticking it to his former partner, who was kind of a giant flake, and totally unreliable, and impossible to do business with. That was for the whole restaurant, though.
The minimums will, of course, be lower on week nights, than weekend nights. If a restaurant tries to charge a fee for the space itself, in addition to the minimum, that’s not normally the way it works, so they might be trying to get extra cash from someone who doesn’t know the drill, or sometimes it’s that they don’t really like doing it, so they set their fees really high so that, if they do it, they make more than they normally would. In the end, it’s their space, and they can set up whatever fee structure they want, and they won’t budge, you have to decide if what they’re asking is worth it for the space, but knowing the common practice can help you negotiate. I don’t expect, though, that there would be a fee for a private room at a restaurant; where we had our rehearsal dinner (private room) there wasn’t even a minimum – it basically is just extra diners, and they expect you’re buying dinner and a drink for everyone, so it’s worth it.
We found we needed to be very clear about a couple of thing, such as making sure the waitstaff was dressed *ahem* appropriately.