Gas prices in northern
While the increase is taking it’s toll on households across the country-especially commuters who in some areas are spending $20.00 per day to get to and from work- the trickle down economy is having a very serious effect on high-end dinner houses.
Fern Glazer wrote an interesting article last week highlighting some of the value-meal tactics that Applebee’s, Chili’s and O’Charley’s were taking in an attempt to firm up the soft business they have experienced over the past year. Value promotions are the heart of the casual concepts’ existence in many areas. In the casual dining business, Applebee’s, Chili’s and O’Charley’s are ardent leaders in the industry with substantial marketing budgets to lure customers to dine. They should be studied.
Many dinner house operators turn a snobbish nose at the value promotion, thinking customers will look down on their establishments once a friendlier priced item appears on their menus. Others feel that a bowl of pasta, priced under an $18.00 entrée fare will change the habits of their diners and will ruin the customers’ taste buds and pocketbooks having them never again order anything in the $25.00 to $30.00 price category.
It’s time for fine dining operators to wake up and smell the hamburgers down the street jumping of Applebee’s grill. A sure sign of competitive success is when an owner leaves at night, pondering how to pay tomorrow’s vendors, and after locking the front door smells the grill down the street spewing fumes of food still being cooked.
Value promotions don’t have to be cheaply presented or marketed. It can be something as simple as a more reasonably priced bowl of pasta. A burger with flair made with Black Angus Beef, or a smaller cut of steak that will attract the Tuesday night diner without having him decide whether to go to dinner or drive to work the next morning.
With no end in sight to the skyrocketing fuel prices it may be time to reevaluate your menu prices and selections. If your atmosphere is comfortable, your service friendly and professional, and your food above average, why not add a few menu items that fit into the mid-week dining out budget. It won’t ruin your customer’s taste buds for expensive food and it may attract a crowd.
Drew Nieporent of Myriad Restaurant Group fame said best. “If you are not doing at least two turns a night, you’re only playing restaurant”.