So, let’s say you run a gallery and you’re hosting a reception for the opening night of a new exhibition. You’re expecting 100 or so people, most of whom will be friends and family of the artist, some legit art lovers, plus some people you’re pretty certain are there only for the food.
What do you serve without cheating the people who came for the art, without catering (literally) to the people who just came there for the food?
Here are my ideas:
1. No buffet. Keep the food out back and serve cater-waiter style at opportune monents. Be prepared to pivot to another direction when the moocher approaches.
2. Small buffet, refilled often. Just a few plates, sparsely filled. Convey a sense of scarcity.Better yet, start out your opening with some empty plates that are smudged with a little food, to look like someone already wiped you out.
3. VIP room for VIP guests. The strip clubs do it, why not you. Get a velvet rope and establish a more generous setting for your favored guests. Glance pityingly from the VIP room at your moocher as he or she surveys the plate of Oreos while you munch on mini-crabcakes.
4. Secret openings. Your opening is invitation only. If someone you’ve never witnessed over-grazing at the buffet shows up, let them in anyway. But now you can turn away the moochers with impunity.
5. Direct the moochers to the art and force them to talk intelligently about it. Especially effective if their mouths are full. Sample script: “So you like the art? I see you here at every opening. You must really like art!”
Next week: How to stock the bar.