Choosing the Best Venue in town with the best price with the best options, is a very important decision and one that you don’t want to overlook. You want it to be central to where your guests would be coming from, but you also need to make sure it has the amenities that you are looking for. We have a list of questions you should be asking halls, as well what to look for personally during your visit. Scroll down to start your quest in choosing the best venue!
Figuring out how to set up your hall can be tricky but we have some great tips. Make sure that when you are setting up the tables, they are not all in straight lines like you would see at a bingo hall. Be creative and funky and change it up a bit. Maybe even draw out a layout ahead of time. From experience, we have found that you should have zones for everything: food, games, dance floor, seating area, bar, etc. This makes it easier for your guests to navigate and not miss anything. It also spreads the guests throughout the hall more evenly which will prevent people from feeling closed in and congested. You want people to mingle and walk around rather than stay in one area the whole night.
You should put games like Blackjack, Poker, Roulette and Craps up against the wall so that your guests cannot go beside or behind the dealer and cheat. It is fun to place games like the Jail & Bail in the middle of the room, since it is free standing and will make people notice it. Don’t throw this game in a dark corner – be strategic and place it where people will notice it! A huge dance floor is not needed; you want the attention to be on the games, which is where you make your money. As games start to close at the end of the night around midnight, that is when the dancing may really take off, but probably not before.
When you choose a hall, they may have a bartender who manages their own sale of drinks, or they may allow you to bring in your own drinks and serve it. We would say that for a Fundraiser, people do tend to run their own bars. If your event is more of a Birthday party for example where you have staff waiting on you, entertainment paid for, etc., then have the hall also take care of this. But at Fundraisers, it is common to see the volunteers running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, because the whole point is to make money, and therefore do things yourself! You gotta put in the man hours to see the payoff. Below we will break it down for you, so that you can decide which option suits you best.
Hall Runs Bar
Let us assume that the hall is running the bar, and they charge $4 per drink. You can charge $5 per drink, so that you still make $1 off each beer sold. In most cases the hall runs the bar, so make sure they have a good variety of alcohol in stock. Generally, the hall rental will be much cheaper if they supply the alcohol since this will create more income for the hall. This can save you a ton of headaches as you do not have to worry about purchasing the alcohol in advance, transporting it there, finding people to run the bar with you, ensure they have their Smart Serve, etc.
You Run your Own Bar
If you run your bar instead and charged $5 per drink, the profit is much higher as the beer probably only cost you $2 from the case – however like we mentioned, there is a lot more to it! You have to take into account the cost of straws, beer cups, ice, bartenders, Permit to sell alcohol, etc. Running your own bar will include more work and more initial investment, not to mention liabilities. Make sure that you aware of your city by-laws as well. Have someone you trust serve the drinks who is Smart Served, or you can have a buddy obtain their Smart Serve Certification online for $34.95+tax.
So What does Jack of all Spades Recommend?
Should I run my own bar or get the hall to run the bar? Such a common question we get! If you are expecting a drinking crowd, then you will want to run the bar yourself as the profits are enticing. But if you don’t want the hassle and money might not be your driving force, then have the hall run the bar on your behalf. Your choice!
Here is a a quote from a spokesperson representing the AGCO (Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario):
“If someone wants to have a party, the private event [Special Occasions Permit] allows them to serve alcohol at a location where there is no permit. …Alcohol can be sold, but not to make a profit, or it can be served at no charge. Because the event is private, it cannot be advertised. …If the facility does have a permit …the event may be advertised, and alcohol may be sold at a profit since it’s being served by trained staff.”
In this article, she was also quoted saying:
A public event with a special occasion permit, often run by a charity, not for profit organization or religious group, can advertise and profit from the sale of alcohol, with the intent of putting the proceeds back into the community for projects or programs. However, a buck and doe falls under the category of private event, where no advertising is allowed and alcohol isn’t meant to be a money maker.
We have heard some say that the AGCO recommends that when it comes to alcohol sales, permit holders can’t make a profit. Instead, permit holders will have to come up with an expense sheet outlining how their alcohol revenue will ONLY cover their expenses.
Once you narrow down a few halls to go check out after making the phone calls and getting your answers, now it is time to see them in person. Let us help you decide which Hall to Rent, now that you have done all your preliminary research.
Make sure that you get a tour of their kitchen.. You can tell a lot about the place judging by the cleanliness of the hall’s food preparation area. Everything must appear clean and organized, do not be afraid to open a fridge or two. Ask for references from previous events catered by this hall if you are using their catering services.
Also check out their bathrooms, as this speaks volumes. Is there soap and paper towels in both the men’s and women’s washrooms? Do the washrooms look and smell clean? It seems obvious, but many people forget to look for these things. You want your guests to feel welcome, have some good food, and feel like they are in a clean environment so that they will stay alllllll night and spends lottttts of money!
Some halls have different sized rooms to choose from. The hall has to make sure that they obey all fire codes and their hall will accommodate your party size, so be honest with your number of guests you expect to come. You want your guests to feel comfortable in the room, and when a room of 100 people feels like 20, then your room is too big, and people will be less likely to go play games or dance since they will feel too self-conscious. On the other hand, when the room is filled with 20 people but it feels like 100, then the room is too small, and people will feel closed in and will not want to stay and keep spending money.
Take the hall’s advice, as they will know by experience what room may be most suitable for you. Remember, if a hall holds 200, you should be okay if your expected number of guests is 250, as many guests will only stay a couple of hours and some may not come at all. Go with your gut instinct, and choose a location that is central to where the majority of your guests will travel to. Don’t choose a remote location just because it was cheap. You will lose out big time if it is not convenient.
Now that you have your date and number of guests in mind, it is time to choose a hall. Luckily we have compiled a list of questions to ask Halls, to keep you organized. Keep in mind that if you have many out-of-town guests that you expect to come, you will want to pick a location that is easily accessible from highways, and possibly close to a hotel. If you have guests scattered from Toronto to Niagara, pick an in-between location so that you can hopefully maximize your turnout. Don’t pick some that are super remote, because you want to be a convenient location.
Once you know what part of town you are looking at, start Googling for local places! Start making calls or emails, ask for recommendations on Facebook or other social media to get people’s input, and ensure to ask these questions.