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Banquet dinner for 150


sara
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Hi Philly!

I'm helping to organize a dinner associated with the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, which is being held in Philly in August (Yeah-I get to come home!!). We have 150 coming, and need a place that meets the following criteria:

Good food (including good options for vegetarians)

Not too expensive (good value, anyway), meaning no more than $50/per, without alcohol

Not too noisy, i.e. maybe carpeted

Located within walking distance from the marriott at 12th & market

No strong preference here, but not BYO might be easier.

I have already thought of the many Asian options (Pho Xe Lua, Vietnam, Lee How Fook, Rangoon), but we had this dinner last year at a Chinese place in San Francisco. So any non-Asian ideas would be greatly appreciated. I think we might be able to go a bit further out in terms of location, if public transportation were able to get us there.

Thanks in advance!

Sara

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Carman's if they can eat in shifts. :biggrin:

150 is a lot of people. There's always Sansom Street Oyster House, if only we knew someone with connections. Also the new Smoked Joint might have the space or Tequilla.

Welcome back if only for a few days.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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Carman's if they can eat in shifts.  :biggrin:

150 is a lot of people.  There's always Sansom Street Oyster House, if only we knew someone with connections.  Also the new Smoked Joint might have the space or Tequilla.

Welcome back if only for a few days.

We lose on the carpeted floors and I'm sure we can't possibly do 150. 100 maybe, but 150 would be tight for anything other than standing cocktails and pickup munchies and incredibly loud. And it would require a complete buyout of the restaurant for that evening which would instantly take this out of budget.

But thanks for thinking of me...

Other suggestions might include the previously mentioned ones or even renting a venue and having the event catered. The University Museum is a great venue, the Mummers Museum on Washingotn Avenue is an exceeding cool locale with lots of Philly "fla-vah", the Philadelphia Zoo has a few rentable areas, Fairmount Park has Japanese Gardens and other locales. Even the Convention Center and the Train shed of Reading Terminal are available for parties. There's a boatload of possibilities. If only we knew someone with catering connections, you might have better luck getting a more realistic idea for a budget...

Herb???

Nonetheless I hope you get to stop by and say hello while you're back!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm going to say that no non-Chinese restaurant in town can accomodate 150 for a dinner.

Even those that may want to because of the slow August business just don't have the system in place.

And the only Chinese restaurants that I'd think can accomodate that group would be the larger ones that are seldom talked about on Egullet (Tai Lake, Ocean Harbor, Golden Phoenix, Jade Harbor), as opposed to Vietnam, Xe Lua, LHF, etc., because they are the ones that host larger banquets for the Chinese community.

But that's a moot point, because for diversity's sake the ASA is looking for something non-Asian, or at least non-Chinese.

But I'd speculate that few non-Chinese restaurants anywhere in the US can accomodate 150 for a sitdown dinner for the same reasons that few non-Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia can accomodate for a sitdown dinner.

Most restaurants can't support that kind of infrastructure.

The above mentioned particular Chinese restaurants do because:

Chinatowns are self-sustaining communities, with residents supporting the area businesses, with the additional revenue provided by non-residents just adding busineses

More specifically in this case, 99% of the area's Chinese population has their weddings, christenings, New Year's parties, etc. in these restaurants, as opposed to the special events for the rest of the population spread out over the entire metro area.

Chinatowns are in the oldest parts of American cities, with most buildings at minimum 30 years old, thus ensuring lower property values, property taxes, etc. for the businesses

But none of that is any more than background to the discussion at hand.

I think you do have to make it a catered event.

I do think $50pp is an interesting figure to try and work with, but it can work depending on your expectations.

First let me speak to my own self-interest:

if you do make it a catered event, let me bid on it.

I do think we are more likely to be able to provide good value for you on that budget than others because of our particular business situation, which I can discuss further some other time.

Okay, that said, if you do a catered event, you have to choose between a hotel's special event space or a site with off-premise catering provided.

A hotel is probably more likely to have carpeting. It probably will be more conveniently located to the Marriott and will provide alcohol. It will also provide anywhere from rubber chicken food to above average food. I haven't heard yet about hotels providing good vegetarian options, just like I haven't heard yet about the majority of restaurants providing good vegetarian options. And I'd guess that the per person cost at a hotel would come in above $50pp.

A unique site will have more to ooh and ahh at, and the caterer will probably have more customized food available, also increasing the likelhood that the vegetarian options will be more appetizing.

Most good caterers have about 50%-75% of the menus composed of standard items with the rest customized to fit the client and the event. Some caterers will have trouble with the $50pp price limit, some will not.

I'll wait to address specific venues until Sara has commented further.

I'm still trying to think about restaurants that would be able to accomodate.

Sara, how's Madison? Have you had co-organized a large Egullet gathering with Cusina yet?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Herb--Thanks for the catering thoughts...but we've had this dinner in a restaurant in every other city for dozens of years...this is our first time having ASA in Philly, and I really want them to be impressed with our restaurants; and not be told we couldn't find one big enough for them. (I know that's not really a flaw, but could be perceived as one). So keep thinking guys!

Madison is great--no Egullet events tho, I'm on the tenure track!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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The Reading Terminal Market does special events, and catering I believe. I don't know any details, but you could check www.readingterminalmarket.org for information. I'm sure they'd have contact numbers on their site. Good luck!

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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The Reading Terminal Market does special events, and catering I believe.  I don't know any details, but you could check www.readingterminalmarket.org for information. I'm sure they'd have contact numbers on their site.  Good luck!

Neat idea! They charge $2000 for the location, I don't think we can swing that unless they can cater for $25/head. But this is where I should've done my wedding. :biggrin:

Edited by sara (log)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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but we've had this dinner in a restaurant in every other city for dozens of years...this is our first time having ASA in Philly, and I really want them to be impressed with our restaurants; and not be told we couldn't find one big enough for them.

Madison is great--no Egullet events tho, I'm on the tenure track!

Sara, I think that's great, and as I said, I'll keep on thinking and trying to prove myself wrong, but I'm not optimistic.

Glad you're enjoying Madison. Tenure-track is always nice.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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There are a few restuarants that I can think of that can probably accommodate a group that size... A restaurant with good food is whole 'nother sandwich. And near 12th & Market? That's really a stretch. I'll throw out some ideas based on space and maybe it will jog someone else's memory on the perfect place for Sara.

Best idea I can think of is Moshulu - enough space and fairly good food.

City Tavern can also do large groups for a price. Don't know what that would be though? The Philadelphia colonial theme would be fun for out-of-towners, but I do think it is over-priced for the mediocre food. Although had some foodie friends who went there this weekend (not sure why?) and loved most of their meal.

Jazz clubs such as Warmdaddy's or Zanzibar Blue could probably accommodate. Again, we're talking space here (and acoustic space at that) but not food.

I think Davio's would probably have the space and is sort of in your neighborhood, but lacks atmosphere.

Going down hill... Plough & the Stars.

"Love and cook with reckless abandon" - Dalai Lama

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What is the name of that Cuban (is it Cuban?) place on Girard that used to be Las Tapas?? That might be big enough. Or has anyone been to Samba? I'm willing to venture farther away from the Mariott if I must...

By the way, just to make this thread more useful for people in the future, here is a list I found on Open Table

Open Table Banquet List

Edited by sara (log)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Best idea I can think of is Moshulu - enough space and fairly good food.

Anyone been back to Moshulu since Tim's departure??

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I think Moshulu is your best choice actually if you're commited to doing it in a restaurant.

The party would fit, and they can probably do a 3 course, 2 choice per course menu.

Salad / soup, chicken / salmon / vegetarian, ice cream / cake.

The portiion size I'd expect to be smaller than your normal order, but that's okay.

It can be done for $50. Might be tough to include tax and tip in that though.

I knew there was a restaurant that I might be leaving out!! :wub:

I sincerely doubt Warmdaddy's or ZB could accomodate you.

Never been in Davio's so I can't comment.

Sara, are you referring to Las Viejos de San Juan, or something to that effect?

Hmm, if my memory of the room is correct, Samba might have the space.

Its menu would definitely come in under $50, including tax and tip.

That said, I don't remember if they'd have enough tables, and I don't know if renting them would work for them.

I don't know that I'd take tour groups there, but I suppose there's a first time for everything.

Of course, these other restaurants begs the question:

Would that $50pp include the price of a bus rental? In the case of Samba, I believe it can.

Edited by herbacidal (log)

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi

It appears Bistro St. Tropez and Patou can both accomodate us. Any thoughts on either? Which is nicer? Is the food better at one or the other?

Thanks!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Hi

It appears Bistro St. Tropez and Patou can both accomodate us.  Any thoughts on either?  Which is nicer?  Is the food better at one or the other?

Thanks!

The food at Bistro St. Tropez is wildly inconsistent for a regular diner. I have attended two separate private functions there and the food was fine, quite good in fact. Perhaps they perform better when it's a set menu rather than random orders coming in off a larger menu?

I've been told Patou is very nice but haven't seen the space or eaten there yet. It's the same chef in both places.

Since most of these folks are from out of town, I'd go with Bistro St. Tropez for the gorgeous view over the Schuykill. It's pretty spectacular at night.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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In the last few years, I've heard from all kinds of people that the food at St. Tropez has at the very least gone downhill, or at least is less consistently good than it was previously.

As far as size, if they say they can accomodate you, I suppose that's good.

Ideally, have a local ASA member check the space on your behalf so that they can be sure BST can really accomodate you.

Your ideas of enough space and theirs might not be the same.

Patou can definitely accomodate you. I should have thought of that.

They currently have a promotion that's geared towards their bar crowd on Fridays I think; I don't know when it starts and ends, but if it's going to be on the same day, then be careful.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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