Over the previous couple of weeks, I've see a lot of bad advice given on the subject of restaurant magic. To hopefully correct much of that misinformation, I've decided to write a series of essays on the subject of restaurant magic. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be delving into this vast subject. Hopefully, by the end of this series, you will have the knowledge that will prepare you for a career in restaurant magic.
In this first essay, I will be discussing a couple subjects in restaurant magic that I've seen brought up quite a bit, as well as a couple of other subjects that people don't completely understand.
When many beginners think of restaurant magic, they think of it as if you're just a performer going from table to table performing magic effects. They are surprised when they are told that this is not so. Being a restaurant magician is much more than just performing magic. You are an ambassador to the restaurant. You are there to make sure the customers are enjoying their dinning experience.
Now you may be wondering what being an ambassador means; what does it entail of you? It is true that you are expected to perform magic for the customers. Besides that though, you are also there to make sure people are having a good time. That sometimes means that you just strike up a quick conversation with a customer (I've found that the elderly prefer this to magic much of the time). You also make sure that they have everything that they need. However, this does not mean that if they need a glass of water, that you go get it for them. You are not part of the wait-staff. Instead, what you would do is inform that tables waiter/waitress that one of their tables are in need of a glass of water (or whatever it may be).
You're also there to make sure that people don't leave. On busy nights, that cooks can get behind. You're there to make sure the customers don't notice this. If they do notice, then they can get upset, and spread negative reviews about the establishment. In the case that the cooks get behind, you are there to distract the customers by entertaining them. Another situation that happens on busy nights is that there is a long wait to get seated. A restaurant doesn't want to see customers leave because they are waiting too long. So, again, you are there to also distract the people waiting to be seated. By entertaining those people, they are more likely to stay as the wait doesn't seem as long. Also, they are enjoying their time.
You are there to make the restaurant look good. By doing so, you make yourself look good. You want people talking about the restaurant in a positive manner, because it also reflects on you. The more people who frequent that restaurant, the more exposure you will get, and in return, the larger potential for additional gigs. So remember, you are an ambassador to the restaurant.
This is a point that is discussed quite often. There are somethings about this issue that must be known though. Some magicians are very talented at a young age. Yet, they still aren't ready for restaurant magic. The reason being; restaurant magic is more difficult then just doing magic. It requires a certain level of maturity, and knowledge on the subject.
It is legal for a young magician to work as an entertainer at a restaurant. Since they are independent contractors, they are not limited by child labor laws. However, just because it's legal, does not mean they should do so, as there are some problems. The first one is that until you are 18, you can't sign a legally binding contract. A contract is a necessary item while working at a restaurant. It saves you from being used and exploited. This matter can be worked around, by involving your parents. If you have make your parent an officer of your company, then they can enter in on the contract on behalf of the company. The point though, you need a legally binding contract, and until you're 18, you can't sign one.
There is also the maturity level. Think about these situations. What would you do if a woman you were performing for decided to breast-feed her infant? What would you do if the woman you were performing for had a very jealous boyfriend who thought you were flirting with his girl, and wanted to beat you for doing so? What would you do if you ended up performing for someone who was drunk, and they got violent? There are many situations that will occur while doing restaurant magic that a child simply won't be able to deal with. With age, comes maturity. And maturity is needed to work successfully in a restaurant.
Then there is knowledge. To study the subject of restaurant magic, it takes a considerable amount of time. You need to know how what restaurants are worth approaching. How to approach those restaurants. How to successfully sell yourself to that restaurant. How to draw up a contract. What effects to perform once you get the job. Etc. There is a lot of knowledge that you need on the subject before you can even consider getting a job as a restaurant magician. It's not just something you can jump into and think you will be a success.
Finally, there is the stereotype that follows children. Now, it may not be fair, but it's there. Younger people are looked at differently. They are seen as a bother. And when they ask if you want to see magic, they are seen as a cute/pest who can do a couple of tricks. For the most part, you simply won't be taken serious. And because of that, restaurants won't be as willing to hire you. You are too much of a risk to that restaurant. Is this stereotype fair? Not for all young people. But it was young people who created this stereotype, and it is unfair to the responsible and mature young people out there.
So, age does matter. But don't let that put you off. Wait until you're 18 before trying to get into restaurant magic. It will make things much easier on you, and it also allows you to learn everything you need before trying to get a job at a restaurant. Until then, there are other venues that you can do.
This is the last topic I will discuss in this essay. In another essay in this series, I will discuss how to successfully cold call a restaurant, but for right now, I want to discuss another subject with cold calling. In my personal opinion, it's a must. It is the most successful way to schedule a meeting with a general manager, and get the job. However, I've seen many younger magicians who tell others to go about this in different ways.
One of the most frequent suggestions I've seen is to go into a restaurant, and just start performing magic for the wait-staff in the hope that they will tell the manager about you. This is a horrible idea. The wait-staff don't have the time to be watching some kids do magic effects. They are busy, and can't be held up at any one table. Otherwise, the restaurant suffers because they will end up being slower and they will get behind. This is not something that a manager will look kindly on. You will be seen as a nuisance and destroy any chance you had at working at that restaurant. Now, there are some exceptions to this rule, but not many. It's a horrible way to approach getting a job at a restaurant.
The other suggestion that I hear often is to simply go to a restaurant and ask to speak with a general manager. This isn't as bad of an idea as the previous one I mentioned. However, it is unprofessional, and you will more than likely end up wasting your time. It's best to call ahead and schedule a meeting with the general manager. Otherwise, you risk wasting your time because they may not be there, they may not have the time to meet with you, or they simply won't want to meet with you. You will also look unprofessional, which will be their first view of you. Again, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, it's not a good idea.
Cold-calling is the best way that I've found to get a job at a restaurant. This way, you can schedule a meeting with the general manager, and you know for sure that they are at least somewhat interested.
Next week, I will discuss the preparation that is required to do before you even consider trying to get a restaurant job. I will build each essay on the previous one, so you have a complete guided to the subject of restaurant magic. But I will also suggest other reading material as well. This week, I just wanted to get some common topics on restaurant magic corrected. Until next time,