The Delicious Taste of a Discount

April 16, 2011 - 5:56 am 3 Comments

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Restaurant Week. For food connoisseurs and gastronomical enthusiasts alike, these two words are magic to the ears. From Baltimore to San Francisco to Kansas City and all over, participating restaurants feature a prix fixe menu that gives diners’ pockets a small reprieve from the standard prices.

This is the ideal marketing opportunity for restaurants. For one week, the promise of three delicious, discounted courses incites people to put away their pots and pans and eat out for a special meal. And all the kitchens partaking in Restaurant Week are on the same playing field since expenses become irrelevant due to the prix fixe.

During Newport’s delightful week of “less is more”, I noticed specific marketing strategies according to the kind of restaurant in question:

The dependable favorites. Their reasonable prices, well-rounded menu, and comfortable atmosphere make them your standbys. During Restaurant Week, however, the prix fixe is actually higher than the amount you’d typically spend on a sandwich or burger. In order to motivate diners to a) pick their restaurant and b) make selections from the prix fixe menu, the more low-key, family friendly places advertise monumentally generous portions and their nicest entrées for a relatively low cost.

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The quirky spots. Usually have funky décor on the walls like old record covers, large murals, or stuff you’d find at Pier 1 Imports and the dishes consist of unique blends that you’re either going to love or hate. Because it’s undeniably a risk trying unusual food, the more whimsical restaurants use the prix fixe menu to showcase their best offerings in the hopes of attracting a larger clientele. Their marketing technique is to put it all out on the table and hope their diners will respond enthusiastically. Go big or go home.

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The exclusive restaurants. These are the restaurants you go to once in a blue moon. You make a reservation at least a month in advance, dress up considerably more than usual, and enjoy fancy food and impeccable service. But on Restaurant Week, they become – gasp! – affordable. This is the perfect time for glamorous hot spots to host people who wouldn’t usually be able to afford a night of luxury. However, the elite depend on their name to get people in the door; they are less invested in their menu and don’t by any means offer their best selections because, frankly, they don’t need to.

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Despite the type of restaurant and the marketing strategy employed, Restaurant Week is a win-win for all involved. All establishments do everything in their power to make themselves appealing to customers; yet ultimately, it’s out of their hands. The people decide: status over menu, portions over prestige, or innovative, “I hope it’s yummy” cuisine.

For a list of Restaurant Week participants and dates, please visit Open Table.

3 Responses to “The Delicious Taste of a Discount”

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