Why restaurant week?

Restaurant Week ended in New York City last Friday. We at Hog and Rooster hope you took full advantage as we did. With the conclusion of Restaurant Week came questions about it’s history and reason for existence. According to an article by Tim Zagat, co-founder of restaurant week, himself and Joe Baum created the first restaurant week to be a four day event that offered a special prix fixe lunch menu at certain restaurants. The first restaurant week was marketed towards the additional 15,000 reporters in New York City for the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Essentially Restaurant Week was created as a public relations event, with the idea in mind that these reporters would have an excellent lunch and then perhaps even write about it.

Why is Restaurant Week even more prevalent today then it was in 1992? The truth is Restaurant Week is a shot of adrenaline for the restaurants’ sales numbers. The food service industry is very volatile. One day a restaurant can put upwards of $10,000 in its wallet. The next day it can have total sales equal zero. However these ups and downs are cyclical. The cycle obviously varies from city to city and from restaurant to restaurant (ie. even through NYC restaurants are slower in the Summer, those with outdoor seating may be busier than usual). For restaurants, Restaurant Week helps maintain steadier income especially during slow seasons. Restaurant Week also helps maintain steadier tips for employees. Labor is always a big issue in the food service industry. If employees are not getting enough money, they will leave and although it’s fairly easy to fill a position, it’s near impossible to fill that position with the right person.

So why doesn’t every restaurant participate? Nothing in life is all good. The negatives of Restaurant Week are that it does not build a restaurant’s client base, it can add more stress to the kitchen as they have to prepare for two menus, and with discounted dishes if beverage sales do not increase than some restaurants will lose money. Restaurant Week is not for the extremely high end (there is a reason Per Se does not participate). One, restaurants at this level usually, at least should, have enough money behind them that they can take the losses incurred over the slow seasons. Two, the customers that take advantages of these discounts often do not become repeat clients. Restaurant Week is best for the  restaurants that are marketing themselves as everyday eateries. Especially in New York City and other major cities where there are just so many choices, Restaurant Week is an excellent way for a new restaurant to get noticed.

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