by Lisa Grimaldi | April 01, 2006

This checklist was compiled with the assistance of ME Productions (, an event firm based in Pembroke Park, Fla.


  • When selecting dine-around venues, take into account the demographics of the group (age, gender, etc.) as well as the purpose of the event.
  • Work with restaurants that understand group business and have dine-around experience.
  • Make sure the atmosphere of prospective sites corresponds with and complements the group's corporate culture, the event's theme and/or local color.
  • Determine a budget in advance, and find out if prospective participating restaurants can work within those limits.
  • Determine how many restaurants will be needed for the event.
  • Do the venues have private rooms? What is the largest group they can accommodate?
  • Does each venue have the appropriate staffing levels? Can they provide the group with dedicated staff?
  • Decide if an open or cash bar - or a combination of the two - will best suit your needs. Consider limiting drinks to beer and wine if cost is a factor.
  • If the space booked is outdoors, does the restaurant have backup space indoors in the event of inclement weather?
  • In advance, ask attendees to choose (from a list) the type of cuisine or restaurant they prefer for the dine-around; also ask if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. Ensure that the restaurants selected will be able to accommodate these needs.
  • Hold a tasting at each prospective restaurant. Ask the chef about any special menu recommendations for the group.

  • Assign diners to different venues based on their pre-selected cuisine or restaurant preference.
  • Set up a pre-dinner cocktail reception at the headquarters hotel. This gives some food and beverage business to the hotel for that evening and, more importantly, provides attendees with an opportunity for networking before going off to different venues for dinner.
  • Customize the event by providing menus that include one or more of the following components: the client's logo, the meeting's theme or even next year's marketing slogan.
  • To enhance the dining experience, consider adding live music or other entertainment, décor, entry signage, specialty linens and centerpieces with candles.
  • Consider having servers welcome guests with pre-poured libations and hors d'oeuvres.
  • Wines should be chosen well in advance to give the venue time to purchase the selected vintages in ample quantities for your group.
    Proofread all printed menus for errors.
  • If time is an issue, request that restaurant staff pre-set as much as possible in order to expedite food service.

  • Divide event staff into two teams for the dine-around. One team should travel about an hour in advance of the groups to ensure the restaurants are on schedule and tables are properly set with custom menus. The other team should coordinate the transfer from the hotel(s) and escort each group to the selected restaurants.
  • Make sure one staff member is on-site at each restaurant during the event to handle any needs or concerns that might arise. This individual also can assist the group with information on shuttle departures and tips on post-dinner nightspots.