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Restaurant Week- is it broken? (continued from Boston board)

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Restaurant Week- is it broken? (continued from Boston board)

Chris VR | Feb 15, 2006 05:04 PM

MC Slim JB said:

"There's a broader Restaurant Week issue that makes me distrust the whole thing as a diner.

I like to think RW should be used to show off the restaurant's chops at a discounted price, with prix fixe being used to minimize margin impact. The aim should be to expose a wider audience to what the chef can do, in the hope they'll return for the regular, full-priced menu.

The way I mostly see RW being conducted is as a for-profit swindle, with sub-standard food being served. It's bad for the servers (they work harder than usual for reduced receipts and lower tips -- many of them loathe RW) and turns off a lot of potential future customers. I think this is a mistake, but a growing number of RW participants seem to do it this way.

Maybe the whole thing is broken: perhaps RW has been ruined by hordes of diners who *only* visit a place during RW, and never return, defeating the "loss leader" rationale. Maybe that has spurred the "Let's milk the rubes" mentality that I largely see from RW restaurateurs."

I'm not in the restaurant biz so I don't understand the politics of special promotional Restaurant Weeks, but it seems to me that restaurants who don't want to deal with the hordes of people should just bypass restaurant week. I would think the "let's milk the rubes" mentiality MC Slim JB refers to above does a lot more harm to the restaurants than good. The customers end up pissed off, the waitstaff gets screwed on tips, and the kitchen staff gets completely slammed. Sure, some places seem to approach these promo weeks in the spirit in which they're meant- a great marketing opportunity to get butts in seats to introduce them to what you can do at a lower price point. But the majority (based on my experience, and reading years of reports on Chowhound's many regional board) seem to miss the entire point. I can't imagine the money they bring in (for reduced costs menus) is much of an improvement on a standard week's receipts.

Is there some kind of behind the scenes pressure to participate? Or what?

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