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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » How to Successfully Book a Restaurant (32 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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mystre71
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martinsburg west virginia
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Quote:
On 2011-08-17 22:28, paymerich wrote:
I know of one restaurant that would close with out its entertainment : HOOTERS!


Hooters, use to have a magi perform there. His name was Joe Cole. Sadly that wasn't me Smile...lol


Best,
Joe Cole
Walk around coin box work check it out here https://www.magicalmystries.com/products
magicalmilton
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you'll find me in Alex's... on the strip
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Having this as a sticky on the top of the forum imply's that this is the most appropriate or accepted standard of practice when it comes to obtaining restaurant gigs... and I'm not sure that this is the case. That not to challenge its efficiency or the efficiency of the thread originator, just that it may be better to, instead, have a sticky that links to a list of methods/threads instead of glorifying one in particular... this does seem to be the precedent in many other parts of the Café and, I suspect, would be far more beneficial.
Christopher Lyle
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Quote:
On 2013-04-07 16:12, magicalmilton wrote:
Having this as a sticky on the top of the forum imply's that this is the most appropriate or accepted standard of practice when it comes to obtaining restaurant gigs... and I'm not sure that this is the case. That not to challenge its efficiency or the efficiency of the thread originator, just that it may be better to, instead, have a sticky that links to a list of methods/threads instead of glorifying one in particular... this does seem to be the precedent in many other parts of the Café and, I suspect, would be far more beneficial.


This is a sticky note b/c so many "newbie's" would come on here and ask the question. I thought having it as a sticky note would prevent that and it has. Also, this entire thread has had quite a few share their methods so it has opened up a great topic for discussion.

I never said that my method was gospel, just that it works for me. It may not work for you or others, but some of the ideas may. Your mileage may vary...
In Mystery,


Christopher Lyle
Magician, Comic, Daredevil, and Balloon Twisting Genius
For a Good Time...CLICK HERE!
nautimike
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South Haven, MI
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I am excited about having all this to read! I am planning on approaching one of two restaurants that I've dined at recently about a gig. During our drinks, I performed a couple magic tricks for my friends/family. At the first restaurant I was watched by a neighboring table, so my second trick I performed for one of the kids at that table (which was watched by a third table). Great feedback from all tables (including mine). The other night I was at another restaurant and did a "cut and restore shoelace" routine which was watched by a large neighboring table that gave me a loud round of applause at the end. It was then that I knew I was ready. I had the smarts to come here first looking for good advice, and I found it! Thanks Chris and everyone else for the advice I needed. I love to entertain, and now if I can get paid to do it, even better!

Mike
Theodore Lawton
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Thanks for all the wonderful information Christopher. I'm really getting to the point of putting this into practice and landing a gig, but I also have business start up concerns. I also asked these questions in Jamie's essays thread, but I would greatly appreciate your input on this aspect of landing the gig.

What do we absolutely HAVE to do when we are first starting our magic business? Do we need a promo pack? Insurance? A business account? Do we need to set aside 33% of all income for taxes? Save receipts? Can you give us a brief outline of the essentials to help us get started with that?

Again, thank you so much for this great thread; it is a great wealth of information for those of us just getting started.
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
link8822
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Quote:
On 2013-02-12 23:04, Christopher Lyle wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-02-12 18:14, Benjamagic wrote:
Thanks so much for this valuable information and tips!! I really appreciate it Smile

By the way, you should write a book on this!


Well for now, my lecture will need to do. It will be available on DVD with my lecture notes by April! Smile


Is the DVD & lecture notes available online anywhere to buy or only at your lectures?
Christopher Lyle
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Currently, I'm still in POST production on the lecture DVD. The footage has been shot, but life keeps getting in the way of focusing on this project. I'm hoping by the year end making it available for stockings. Smile
In Mystery,


Christopher Lyle
Magician, Comic, Daredevil, and Balloon Twisting Genius
For a Good Time...CLICK HERE!
Geoff Williams
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My 2 cents worth:

I recommend you approach the GM/Owner around 2:30pm on a weekday. That is usually the slowest time in most restaurants which should maximize your chances of getting an impromptu meeting with them.

My thoughts regarding tips:
Part 1: I personally try to graciously turn down tips but accept them when the guest insists. If I end up taking a tip, I do an extra effect for them (as payment).
Part 2: If the tip I received is UNDER $10, it ALL goes to the server who is assigned to that particular table. If the tip is OVER $10, I split the tip 50/50 with the server.

The LAST thing you want is a server to see you accepting a tip at their table. Right or wrong, it may be seen as you taking tip money from "their" table. The last thing you want is for there to be any hint of hostility between you and the wait staff (because the wait staff can say mean, nasty stuff to the GM and hasten your departure from that venue).
"Saját légpárnás tele van angolnák."

(Hungarian for "My hovercraft is full of eels")
ku7uk3
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'Charge what you think your worth' - utter nonsence.

I think I'm worth a thousand pound an hour, but I'm not stupid enough to charge that. You charge what the client can afford to pay and what your happy with. You can get this figure by doing several things:

1. You can ask your fellow magician friends how much they charge and take an adverage amount.

2. You pretend to be a potencial client and email all the other magicians in that area (from a new email account) asking for a price. Once you have a guideline, either adverage or undercut them all.

3. Find a magician already working a restaurant in another town and find out how much they charge by asking them or going on forums like this and asking people to pm you what they charge.

4. Find an entertainer (working a restaurant already preferably) in another profession like a clairvoyant, musician or caricaturist. These are your competition but because your in a different profession, they are often more willing to share info with you (If you say your from a different town / city as well, its even easier). Find out their price which you can get by pretending to be a restaurant and asking them for a quote and work around that.

5. Having a good relation with entertainment in different professions can be beneficial in also getting the work, as you can promote each other if the restaurant suggests bringing in other entertainers. No one ever likes to bring in another person in the same profession as they run the risk of being better than you or doing something that upsets the management and gets everyone fired. Suggesting artists in other professions keep your role as magician special to you only.

6. Know the area. Every town has a rich side and a poor side of town. As magicians we are a commodity, so if your trying to sell yourself to the poor side of town, your wasting your time quite frankly. They will take the free night option and never use you again (or worse, say you can do more free nights and hand out your card).

Often I find the best resturants to approach and book you for long stretches are those connected to a hotel. I'll repeat that sentence because its probally the most important thing ive said so far - the resturants that book you for years are those connected to a hotel.
I have had several long term residencies at high fees. The first was a resturant in a hotel in the centre of a major town which was every Sunday afternoon for three hours, and it lasted four years. They also hired a musician (which I will come back to later).
That one ended with a change of managemnet and them trying to reduce costs. The second was the holiday inn near the airport, which I started a month after the previous one ended, again for three hours on a Sunday afternoon in the restaurant. That lasted two years before I ended it as private parties were bringing in more money for me as Sunday afternoon is an in demand period for me. I have had several others but they wernt connected to a hotel so they didn't last as long.

The important things to take away from this when finding the resturant for you is:

1. Pick a resturant connected to a hotel and in a part of town (city centre / airport) where customers are changing on a somewhat regular basis and they need to keep old clients coming back and using them again. don't bother with tiny resturants in the suburbs, and even avoid the family restaurants and they don't offer logetivity in my experience (they only hire you on one-off special occasions). You want to seek out the restaurants near tourism routes or corporate businesses. You only have so much time to market yourself and you only have so many 'free audition night' to offer. Might as well target the places which have the potential to offer better longer lasting, rewarding results.

2. Look for the resturants with a musician. These could be keyboard players or harpist. These are the venues that are use to hiring entertainment and are much easier to sell yourself to as they already have the resources in place to hire one-off artists like yourself.
If you can, find out how much the musician is being paid. This is obviously not something you can easily do, but I knew one or two of them from other gigs and so they were willing to share that info with me. I then knew how much to pitch myself at with that paticular restaurant. Quite often the restaurant will only pay what they are paying the musician so with this info you can find out if its a job even worth pursuing. If the pay is not good enough, you know to look elsewhere instead.
I have heard some family restaurants have musicians working for free (I've never seen this myself, but have heard about it). In which case, these are restaurants you shouldn't even try approaching. Were a high value commodity item so only approach the businesses which see themselves and there staff as much also.

3. Sunday bruch (1-4pm) is the key time that most resturants wanted me for. Some booked me on weeknights but they never lasted more than a few months. The residencies that lasted years were those that were on Sunday brunch.

4. As for working weeknights, the work is there but its not as easy to keep as the volume of customers is simply not there at these times and the pay is less for some reason. There is also more compeition with clairoyants, charaiturist and singers charging less than you at these times. Sunday afternnoons for me at least, seemed to bring in better fees and longer lasting results.


Securing the gig for long term contract

1. Never take tips unless the customer really forces it down your throat. I once had a gig where the client wanted to tip me Ł40 which was a lot of money back then. But he only had a credit card and so I said, thank-you that's okay - Give it to the waitress. He was insistent it goes to me and called the manager of the restaurant over and got him to promise that if he used his credit card and the restaurants machine, that I would get the money. It was flattering, but more problems than it was worth. As all the waitresses and staff members saw how much the tip I was getting was and that they were being upstaged.
I never took tips and asked that they give them to the waitress at the end of the night, so hopefully they understood that this was a one-off occasion, but since waitresses change almost each week, its impossible to predict they all knew that.
Anyway, if your fee is set at a price where tips are not needed. Don't take them. Off course, in America you have a different system there so my advice may not apply to you.

2. Change your tricks each week, and have at least four 'sets' of tricks on you at all times. that's 12 effects on you if not more.
While you may only be performing at one table, the other tables will also be watching you through the corners of their eyes. They will see the tricks you are doing and know the endings before you get to them. If you then go to the next table and perform the exact same effects, you have already lost because they have already seen those tricks and will be looking to catch you out and ruin the endings. If there are ten tables and you do the same three tricks only, by table four you will start hitting some heavy negativity from your audience.
It gets bad reactions from the customers and therefore bad feedback.

3. Another reason to change your tricks regularly is to keep old customers coming back again for more and seeing something new. The whole reason you are there each week is to get customers coming back again and again. If you do the same effects, you are not providing the service which the restaurant hired you for.
Also, if you expect any bookings from that gig, you need to show that you have other tricks in your repetoir so that everyone knows the time they see you, they will see something different.

4. Smile. For the love of god, please smile. It can be as fake as anything, but smiling is contagious and no-matter how bad your feeling - you are the entertainer and you need to smile so that it encourages others to smile. I cannot stress this enough as I have seen some very depressing magicians recently which couldn't even last the table, never mind the night. Most problems magicians have when approaching a table is they take it all too seriously.

5. Have fun with it. Your suppose to be having fun - that's why your in this profession. And like smiling, people will feel that your enjoying yourself and it will spread around. That joy will infect others. If your not enjoying the gig, you will lose it very quickly. If this is a problem for you, find out the cause. Do you need to change your tricks? Are you bringing problems from home to work with you? Did a trick not go as planned and it caught you off-guard? Did a heckler say something that you had no response to?
Whatever the reason, don't spread that negative energy from table to table.

6. Choose the right tricks. Chop cup may get good reactions with your two kicker endings. But the whole routine of 'where is the ball' is insulting to the audience. Your making them look stupid by always getting it wrong and that is something no one likes. You are getting them to hate you very quickly, because you've made them look small and stupid.
Then you have to clear the table to do the trick which doesn't look good and has bad angles with trying to see the small ball through the clutter on he table.
It also has bad angles for the steels because there are people sat at your sides and they can see you steal from the pocket. I know this trick is a favourite for magicians, but think about the venue and decide whether it really is the best effect for this type of environment.
Also, this is a restaurant that follows health and safety codes. No rocky the raccoon and no fire or flash effects. You will be in breach of several safety policies which will get you kicked out the restaurant, never mind coming back the following week. Think about it - flash paper and lighters near alcohol and drunks and in venues with a no-smoking rule.

7. Further to choosing the right tricks, the management will be watching you periodically throughout the night. They will see the same trick many times and have worse viewing angles for seeing for steels. If they catch on to how you do your tricks, you become less impressive to them which can hurt longevity. Choose effects like ring and string which can fool people over again without losing its appeal to management watching from afar is a better choice.

8. Your there to promote the restaurant, not yourself. Don't hand out your business card like its free money. I will not personally hire or recommend any other entertainer who I see begging for work at a gig. At a residency, this kind out stuff is the quickest way to get fired. Only hand out your card if asked for, or if you can find a way to incorporate it within a trick that doesn't look like self promotion. But at all times you work for the restaurant. They have hired you and you represent them and not yourself. To the customers you are staff at that restaurant and it looks bad to everyone if you give them a personal card when your suppose to be staff.

9. Learn about the restaurant. You are staff so you should know where the customers toilets are if they ask you and get a rough idea how long it takes the courses to be cooked. Know where dedicated smoking spots are and move tables to help the waitresses if it looks like they need assistance. If the restaurant has an interesting history like being an old school classroom, talk about it with the guests. It encourages interesting conversation and for the management it shows you are integrating the restaurants history into your performance which looks good.

10. Talk to the other staff members and show them tricks. Find out what the managers and waitress and cooks do for fun and engage in team building activities. Organise a games night if you can and make friends with the staff. It will be better for you when you work along friends and it will improve team morale for everyone and make your importance there even greater. If you continue to isolate yourself from the group dynamic at the restaurant by just being the magician, its easy for them to let you go. But make yourself part of the family and they will back you no matter what.

Stephen Ablett
Ring Tricks, Marketing Magic, Key Project and more!
www.amazingstephen.co.uk
Ken Northridge
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Interesting thoughts Steven. Thanks for contributing to this awesome thread.

I’d like to add two thoughts of my own.

I agree with you about the chop cup. For the life of me I can’t figure out why some many magicians (including some top pros) present this as a ‘Where’s the ball? YOU LOSE!’ routine. I just began doing a chop cup routine this year and decided to present as I am the one who keeps getting it wrong, while all the time its obvious to the audience there’s some awesome magic going on.

Tips is a hotly debate subject here in this forum. I just want to say I like them and always graciously accept them. Sometimes I’ll make it clear they don’t have to and I am being paid by the restaurant. But, I really don’t know any people that give tips when they have no desire to, or really can’t afford to. Who am I to say? If someone gives me money I’m going to assume they are grown up enough to make that decision.

True, it is important to keep harmony with the wait staff. But that can be done in different ways. I am helping the waiters by helping their table have an overall pleasant evening, thereby helping THEIR tip. In fact, I have had waiters share part of their tip with ME!

And I don’t understand the argument that the GM might take offense to accepting tips and it might shorten your stay at the restaurant. Every manager I’ve worked for wants me to accept them and is very happy for me. And it makes me happy too.
ku7uk3
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In the US, I understand the resturant industry is mainly based around giving tips. While here in the uk, its a very different thing. I imagine its different from state to state also. So there can be no set rule for what to do with tips. It depends on where you live and the contact you have with the resturant.
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jay leslie
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It's not, so much, different from state to state as it is from geographical area to geographical area.

For example: I have a friend who worked two nights a week here, on the west coast, and when he moved to the south (bible belt) he hasn't worked a single restaurant or performed at a single party in 6 years. Tips (and work) are also cultural.
link8822
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Hi everyone,

Just wanted to thank you for this well-written topic. So many thoughts & opinions on restaurant gigs & I want to share my own experience of how I landed my first gig.
First of all, I put together a promo folder and called to find out the GM's name. Turns out she was in that day, so I walked in to the restaurant & asked to speak with her about possible entertainment options for the restaurant to which I was told I should speak with the sales manager. They scheduled a time for us to meet 2 weeks later, and then I dropped off my promo folder in person a few days later when the sales manager was in.

In terms of tips, I made it very clear that I would not solicit tips because I am here to help the restaurant make more money. When I my one free trial night, I tried refusing tips but couldn't do so without being rude, plus the manager on duty told me to just take it. At the end of my shift, I wanted to split the tips with the servers but they were a bit surprised & also insisted I keep the tips I earned. I'll admit I felt a bit bad since I wasn't keeping my word, but what could I do?

In retrospect, I realized I completely forget to try the line "Please, the management takes care of me very well & the best tip you can give me is to notify the management how much you enjoyed the performance". I also feel that sharing my tips with the hosts would be a good idea because I don't believe they get tips, even though they would be the ones to introduce me to the customers and/or direct me to lines at the entrance.

Long story short, I ended up getting my very first restaurant gig at 65 an hr plus free meal...however, I would not suggest this price unless you have a decent amount of experience approaching strangers cold. I would also highly suggest Kranzo's "The Gig" booklet & "Real work on Restaurants & Bars" by Sankey. It helped me put my promo folder together, refine my pitch, & choose appropriate material. (just out of curiosity, I noticed someone mentin chop cups...do magicians really perform chop cups at restaurants?? It just seems so out of place to me at a restaurant, but I could be missing something)
Shawn D
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I close my set with Carl Andrews cups an balls at every table I do. Strolling or table hopping. Not out of place at all an great reactions. Hardly takes any room to do. I use mike rogers baseballs an end with bigger balls hacky sack socer ball an a potato.
flavioromano
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Very Useful topic!
I have al ittle problem; I have done a free night for a ristorant owner, he calls me on the busy nights. He says to me "call me sometimes to remember me to do magic nights" but often when I call him, he says "Sorry this evening I have few reservations, call me another time!".
This is very frustrating, because this is a high value restaurant and I get other jobs from it, I would like to be there very often!
wally
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I am a childrens entertainer at the moment, But I am putting a list together for some Adult close up work. is there such a dvd that gives advise on starting in close up. cheers from UK.
1KJ
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Quote:
On Nov 6, 2010, Christopher Lyle wrote:
However...since there are so many food options out there, people also are attracted to novelty. WE are a novelty and must attempt to convince the restaurant that they DO NEED US...even tho' the reality of it all is that they don't.

Christopher


This is a great thread! I very much appreciate the wisdom. I would suggest just a slight shift from the above statement. I don't think we should convince them that they DO NEED US, when you just stated that THEY REALLY DON'T NEED US. I would say that we need to convince them that THEY WOULD BENEFIT FROM US. The bottom line to a restaurant is more revenue. If you can convince them and ultimately prove to them that they get more revenue above and beyond the additional expense, they should be happy.

Given this, I love your idea of "stacking the deck" with friends. You just generated more revenue for the restaurant. I say you should constantly stack the deck. When you are standing in line at the grocery store, give the person behind you and the person in front of you a card to the restaurant and talk about what great food they have, plus a great magic show. Most everyone standing in line at the grocery store on occasion would rather someone cook and serve them.

This was an awesome article about how to get the restaurant gig, but an idea to keep the gig: Get co-branded business cards. The restaurant on one side and your info on the other side. Perhaps the restaurant would even throw in a little incentive, making the card something they would present to get a little something extra. This way, the restaurant can clearly see how you are "stacking the deck".

KJ
tpratt38
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Thanks for all the tips I hope I put this to good use when I move to New Orleans in April 2015.


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ku7uk3
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You make Voodoo Dowells and are moving to New Orleans. Look up the Ghost tour company there, you will have more work with them than you can possibly handle.
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gowenmagic
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I've landed 2 restaurants now just heading out an afternoon armed with business cards, an invisible deck and a well rehearsed pitch and asking for the general manager. The GM is usually there %90 of the time between 4-5 on Thursdays and Fridays.
I work at a breakfast place called Cora's on the weekends and I'm having a trial this Friday at Ricky's all day grill and a third one is looking promising. I'm waiting on a phone call.
I've had to approach about a dozen restaurants to get those. In Canada, most places that have roots in the states are terrified of all of the red tape they have to go through which is a shame because there are some really great places.
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