I would have to agree with Paddy here. You really need to practice your magic before you really get a paying gig. I am a part-time professional magician and I work a very upscale restaurant out by the beach. I cover for a magician friend of mine when he has a double booking. (I have a full-time profession working for an architect....the magic is just additional fun and additional income when I get it.) I could, of course, pursue more restaurant gigs, but family is first so I prefer to spend my free time with them.
Back on topic. I started doing magic when I was waiting tables at a local restaurant. I bought Scotch and Soda and did the trick when I dropped the check off at a table. My tips went up immediately! I gradually added additional effects when I could. This is how I built up my repetoire. If you are seriously interested in doing restaurant magic, here are a few tips and suggestions:
1. Make sure the effect packs small but plays big. As someone mentioned before, you have to carry all this stuff on you to do walk-around. Some people wear a small fanny pack that enables you to carry multiple decks of cards, a few packet tricks, a thumbtip or two, etc. I have streamlined my routines and now wear a jacket at the restaurant I perform in so I leave the pack at home and just carry stuff around in my pockets in the jacket. I can easily carry 3 decks of cards, a few packet tricks, sponge balls, thumb tips, a color-changing scarf, coins and a Raven.
2. Put together a routine. Don't just do a random set of tricks. Have some sort of storyline or patter or something that leads from one effect into the other. The effects should also build as you go.
3. Do something very visual when you first approach a table. I tend to greet tables with a large red silk scarf in my hand. I very politely say "Excuse me, but I just got here and found this beautiful red silk scarf and wondered if any of the ladies at the table had dropped it." Of course, they always so no, so I immediately change the color of the scarf to blue and ask the question again. This always gets a great reaction and really warms the people up. I then introduce myself as the house magician and inquire as to how their visit has been so far. I will only then proceed to ask if they would like to see more magic...which they always do.
4. Do a few effects and then move on. Don't perform every single trick you own just because a table reacts well. There are many other guests at the restaurant that deserve to see you as well. Do a short routine after your introduction, finish the routine, thank the guests and tell them you hope to see them again and then move on. It is far better to leave the guests wanting more than to wear out a welcome. If they want more, they are more likely to come back to the restaurant to see you again. This is good for both you and the restaurant.
5. Be polite! This can't be stressed enough! Always maintain the utmost of professionalism - even if someone at a table is being rude. Nothing will get you fired faster than an irate guest that tells a manager how you swore at them or got into a major argument and ruined their dinner experience. I think you get the idea. Just always keep it professional. Bottom line.
6. Don't encourage the heckler. Now some magicians will disagree with me on this one, but I know many who follow this same guideline...if you have someone that is really being obnoxious, insulting, turning over or grabbing cards from you, or a number of other uncalled for disruptions, calmly say thank you to the table and move on. Pick up your things and head to another table. This comes from experience. Its just not worth it folks! Some will tell you that handling a heckler or really fooling him makes you a better magician. Baloney. It just makes you "feel" like a better magician because you "pulled one over on him." Sorry, but that's not why I do magic. I do magic to make people smile, laugh and really enjoy themselves. If one person doesn't want to be happy, then fine. The rest can enjoy the magic. If, however, that grumpy or heckling person becomes disruptive and doesn't allow me to entertain the others, then I will simply pack up and leave. Believe me, I've tried the other way and I still feel like something wasn't right...even after convincing the heckler that I could do something he didn't know about. Feel free to disagree...this is just personal preference.
Anyway, these are just a few of the suggestions I came up with after doing table-side magic for approximately 10 years now. Feel free to reply or PM me if you have any specific questions or thoughts about what I've mentioned.
Oh, a couple other suggestions for those of you trying to break into the restaurant field...your tips and amount of pay will be reflective of the type of environment you are in. I'll explain......Pizza Hut = small wage, low tips (in my experience) Upscale restaurant where people dress nicely = higher wage, big tips (also based on experience.)
This is of course a generalization, but you get the idea. Typically people that have a lot of money and go to upscale or fancy restaurants tend to tip a house performer much better than the family with kids out for a quick bite at McD's or a Bennigans restaurant. I'm not trying to be discriminatory by any means...I'm just saying what I've seen typically happen. So, with those ideas in mind..you can select the kind of restaurant you want to work in and then proceed accordingly. Of course, if you are going to work in a fancy restaurant, YOU yourself need to look the part and also have the skill level to match. You can't be a newbie with a couple half-decent packet tricks and expect to work a nice restaurant. You need to really practice, work out routines, perform a lot for the experience and really get comfortable with your material so it is second nature for you. Seriously, practice for friends, family, anyone who will watch.
Well, I've gone on enough for now. If anyone is still reading...thanks! And I hope something I've said will be helpful.