Low-key parties hurting restaurants

By Brandon Bartlett - bio | email
Posted by Melissa Greathouse - email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - 'Tis the season for holiday parties, but for many companies this year it will be more of a casual get-together.

Chances are your company Christmas party won't be the same this year.

Businesses are scaling back, and that's not good news for restaurants and caterers who depend on those parties helping their bottom line.

"If we don't have parties, our employees don't get paid," says Chris Neikirk of the Bauerhaus.

The Bauerhaus in Darmstadt has been headquarters for many company Christmas parties. Some businesses book this room years in advance, but with a bad economy this year most companies are looking at ways to cut back. For many this year that means the expensive office party.

"We've had a few that have opted to cancel the party altogether," Neikirk says.

And for the companies still holding a party chances are it won't be as elaborate as in years past.

"We've had a few companies that are looking to maximize their dollars," says Neikirk. "Where they used to maybe do the open bar, now they're only doing one or two drink tickets. Where they used to do jumbo shrimp cocktail for appetizers, they're now doing cheese and fruit."

"Overall, I think our holiday parties are down about eight percent," says Sonya Gray of Biaggi's.

Biaggi's offers two party rooms. And even though many companies have already booked those rooms for their holiday get-togethers restaurant managers say it looks as though they too will be a victim to a slower than usual holiday season.

"We have had cancellations. When we have people that don't get the number of people to come as they thought they originally would, they will call and cancel," Gray says.

Some companies are even choosing to hold their parties at work, meaning without renting out a location. Their only expense would be a catered meal.

"A lot of companies also have us deliver to them," says Ryan Wolf of Wolf's BBQ. "That's a big part of our business."

And many restaurants are still trying to attract companies by offering a less expensive meal, meaning ham and not prime rib.