Restaurant Week: Helpful or Harmful?
Most of us are familiar with the idea of Restaurant Week. During this week, many restaurants in a given city come together to offer menus at discounted prices. Usually, these meals include a limited selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts and are intended to entice new customers to sample the restaurant’s offerings. What could be bad about offering deals that bring in new customers? As it turns out, Restaurant Week has a lot of perks, but the cons are just as significant.
Let’s start with the positive side of Restaurant Week.
One benefit is that it establishes your business as a part of the community. It shows that you’re ready and willing to welcome new customers into your business. You’ll also get lots of advertising from taking part in Restaurant Week—there are usually websites that list the names of participating restaurants and promote their menus. And, since Restaurant Week is a community event, there are usually ads run on radio and in newspapers. It can also be a way to engage in a good-natured competition with other restaurants in your area by trying to offer the highest quality Restaurant Week menu at the lowest cost. Of course, the most obvious benefit is that Restaurant Week brings in customers. Everyone loves a deal, and Restaurant Week usually extremely cost-effective for customers.
Is it cost-effective for your business?
That’s where the negative side of Restaurant Week comes into play. It’s possible that your restaurant might actually lose money by participating in Restaurant Week. That’s because, if you plan on maintaining the high quality of your food, it might be impossible to drastically slash prices without taking a serious financial hit. Some restaurants go the other direction and decrease the quality of their food in order to make money. However, this is a terrible thing to do if you expect to bring in new customers—if diners eat something subpar at your restaurant, they’re unlikely to come back, no matter how low the price is. And then there’s the question of whether or not Restaurant Week encourages new customers to return even when they like the food. After all, if they’re able to get your most popular pasta dish plus an appetizer and a dessert for $25, why should they come back next week to get the same thing at a significantly higher price that they may not even be able to afford? You also run the risk of offending or turning off your regular customers, many of whom pay the full price for your dishes year-round. In addition, many diners find Restaurant Week menus too restrictive; if they don’t like the entrees you offer, they may decide to not even bother coming in.
Only you can decide if Restaurant Week is a good idea for your restaurant. Can you offer high quality food at a low cost, while still making a profit? Weigh the pros and cons to decide if Restaurant Week will be successful for you.