Advice: Restaurants

Do you have any advice on how to get a restaurant gig?

I personally have only done a few restaurants, but the ones I did work, I did for years. I began with a small local restaurant and basically went in for dinner one evening. The next time I visited I waited to eat until late in the evening so it wouldn’t be so busy. After my meal I asked to speak to the Manager. When the Manager approached I thanked him for a wonderful evening and complimented his food and service. I gave him my business card and left. The following day I called in the mid-afternoon, following his busy lunch and well before the evening rush. I reminded him of our meeting the evening before and told him I had an idea that might be great for the both of us and asked if he had time to meet me the following day around this time.

When we met I told him a little about my magic and how I believed it could enhance his restaurant and create the illusion of faster service by making people forget about the time. I showed him a few quick effects and offered him a deal. Oh what a deal.

I told manager I would come on one of his busy nights and do two full hours for the price of a dinner for two on another evening and a meal on the show night, following my work. I also explained to him this was a one time offer to give him the opportunity to see how this added value would enhance his patrons dining experience.

The night was a resounding success. I kept a few simple things in mind. I was not the reason they came to the restaurant, I should only approach tables after their orders were taken, I should not over stay my welcome at any given table and the most important rule, I would not take tips. Tips are funds given to servers To Insure Prompt Service. I’m not a server and to take their tips would only make me look less in the eyes of the patrons and especially the servers who rely on those tips to make a living. Many will disagree with me on this particular rule, but it has served me well. I can easily recall dozens of times I thanked a patron for their offer of a tip, but declined it as the management paid me a very high wage to entertain them and in fact if they really wanted to say thanks, they could add those funds to the servers tip as they work far harder than I ever would. The first time a server heard me refuse the tip they quietly took me aside to say thanks. Later that evening when the staff were having coffee that same server told the Manager, I was the best thing to walk through the doors of their restaurant in years!

I made friends with the servers and we worked together to make sure I was at the right place at the right time. I visited table shortly after their orders were taken and was gone just before the appetizers were served. To the patron it seemed like they had just sat down. I did effects that left them scratching their heads and opened a whole new dialogue of conversation for the tables guests.

After the initial audition night I sat down with the Manager and we discussed money. I didn’t want to be in the restaurant for more than a couple of hours an evening. I also only wanted to be there a couple of nights a week. In the end we agreed on a fee of $100 an hour and a certificate for a dinner for every four hours worked. It was the perfect arrangement.

I had selected my restaurant very carefully. I picked one that I liked that was close to my home and had a clientele that would likely host private parties where my services could be used. I also wanted to do bigger shows and for that I knew I needed an agent. To convince an agent to book me over other performers was going to take a little coaxing and what better a way to influence someone than over a free dinner or two at a restaurant that already loved my work and where I could get free meals!

-shawn

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