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Understanding The Cost Of Your Family Gathering Meal

Here is a question our staff members get sometimes: why are the family gathering events so expensive?

Probably what most people are saying with this question is they wish LiveWorkPlay had a magical ability to make the cost of hosting an event with a meal more affordable (we do not have that ability, we certainly wish that we could do that).

But in case you might believe that either LiveWorkPlay or the Preston Event Centre is “charing too much” we have done some work to clear that up. The first thing to know is that LiveWorkPlay loses money on these events. We have continued to offer them because our community enjoys them and it is a unique opportunity for all the different parts of the LiveWorkPlay community to come together: members, clients, volunteers, staff, family members, board members, partners, and others!

In terms of the cost, we have done some research. Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa is routinely ranked in the Top 5 of Ottawa Cheap Eats. This is just one example, but it’s a good one because they offer very similar menu items. Here’s what we found out in terms of what it would cost for a comparable meal to what we get at Preston Event Centre.

  • $12 Small Caesar Salad with romaine, croutons, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.
  • $23 Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken with steamed vegetables and choice of potatoes.
  • $10 Chocolate Cake
  • $3 Coffee
  • $6 Tax
  • $8 Tip


Note: for $62 per person at Elgin Street Diner there are no table linens and most importantly, no banquet hall, no PA system, no place to hang up our coats, no place to mingle, and no way to have awards, news broadcasts, and definitely no room for 200 people.

We receive a very similar menu from Preston Event Centre for a total of $69 per person including the event space, linens, and all other fees and charges. The food itself is billed at $50 per person (plus tax and gratuity). As you can see, the cost is almost identical to what it would cost in one of the cheapest diners in the city. This isn’t a challenge to go hunting around for a cheaper example. We are just explaining that there’s nothing “expensive” about what LiveWorkPlay is charging, or what Preston Event Centre is charging. In both cases, it’s actually a bargain, even if it we can all agree that $55 is a lot of money for many people. That is why we also have special discounts for those who truly cannot afford to pay full price.

Don’t forget that your ticket price also includes the event registration (there are always fees for that which we cannot control) and staff time (it is not so easy to do a seating plan for 150 or more people) none of which is being passed on to our event attendees.

In sharing this information we are are not suggesting that those who have difficulty finding the money for these events are going to be able to better afford their ticket.

What we are hoping in sharing this information is that everyone can agree that complaining about the cost is not helpful to anyone, because there isn’t a better option, we really do enjoy these events together, and there’s nothing any of us can do about the cost, since we already have the best deal in town.